K and I took a glorious early summer trip to France: half in the Alps and half on the shores of the Mediterranean.
We hiked up snowy mountains, descended cliffs into turquoise waters, made unfamiliar dishes like poulet noir in unfamiliar convection ovens, and lived the high life watching the sun set over Marseille. We also shared a baguette and a pain au chocolat every day with our “expresso.” First things first.
Our trip took us to Paris, Chamonix, Nice, La Ciotat, and Marseille. We went with a budget, taking only a small backpack each and cooking most of our meals. I even got to refresh my manual driving skills! Hello, tiny alleys with many cars! My personal favorite? Les îles du Frioul, a short ferry from Marseille, with many beautiful inlets (calanques) for swimming in the teal limestone waters. Just beware the seagulls.
Baldy sits [presides] at 10,064 feet. It’s the highest point in LA County, and the highest point in the San Gabriel Mountains. It’s also within Angeles National Forest.
At the summit
K and I met up from our northern and southern residences [now swapped] to hike this awesome mountain together in November 2015. I’m pretty sure we did the Mount Baldy loop trail amounting to 11.3 miles round trip, but there are many different paths you can take. I know we passed under a ski lift and felt super proud that we were using our legs to power us up the incline! If you take the ski lift, the total round trip to the summit is 6.6 miles.
On the Backbone
One of the coolest parts of the trail is the DEVIL’S BACKBONE, a narrow section of ridgeline that’s super-steep on either side. I couldn’t take my eyes off the ground [pretty overwhelming!], and I wouldn’t want to hike this with any snow. So sheer!
Looking down on the Devil’s Backbone
Our way down the mountain was full of epic granite…
East Camino Cielo snakes along the Santa Ynez Mountains in Santa Barbara. Up here, there are great views of the ocean and, to the north, Lake Cachuma.
Along this road lies a short trail to Knapp’s Castle, originally built as a mountain lodge in the 1900s by George Owen Knapp. In 1940, the mansion was purchased by Francis Holden to live in with opera singer Lotte Lehmann. A few weeks later, however, it burned down in a forest fire. The stone ruins remain today.
A rope swing transforms the place into a playground!
Morning rays of light hitting the Santa Ynez Mountains
This is a fairly popular place to watch sunrise/sunset, so it was a bit crowded when I arrived (despite my empty photos). Made it a little less spooky!
The grad school gang got back together again for some camping, hiking, and hot springs fun in October 2015. There were some cold nights and some pretty sad views of the drought impacts on Huntington Lake, but warm and sunny times with friends. The lake is nestled in the Sierra National Forest, south of the Kaiser Wilderness.
Looking south towards the eastern edge of Huntington Lake
Matching our autumnal experience of the bare lake bed
We hiked up to College Rock on the north side of the lake, about a 5 mile R/T. The rock took some tricky scrambles to get up to, and it sure was windy at the top! We could see some storms hit the other peaks and a bit of snow, so we booked it downhill after that.
Hiking to College Rock
Not pictured: a dreamy evening stroll around the dry lake bed, attempts to cross little rivulets using wood and rocks, trekking to Mono Hot Springs for some warm baths (with little red worms), boys skipping rocks and spending much time trying to jump and balance on a tall tree stump :)