November 22, 2017

**WARNING: This is a REALLY LONG POST so I suggest skimming if you’re easily bored…or stare at this funny meme that I’m about to show you!**

 

 

 

Image result for unicorn meme

Without further ado, enjoy!

 

Maaaan..if there’s one thing I love to do on my birthday, it’s hiking. So what better way to celebrate my birthday the birthday week than thru-hiking Backbone Trail in the Santa Monica mountains. Plus, it’s the closest mountain from home so why not?

Before I go on, I didn’t go backpacking like the Trans-Catalina Trail. Instead, I divided the hikes into sections so that whenever I have days off, I would hike from the start to finish (or wherever I left off).

Here’s my Backbone thru-hike experience from start to finish:

Day 1: Ray Miller Trailhead to Danielson Ranch (10/20/17)

Feeling ever so drowsy, I woke up at 5 am in the morning, packed up my belongings and headed over to pick up my friend, George, who will thru-hike Backbone Trail with me for two days (this was the initial plan). We drove through scarce traffic along the I-10, 405 and 101 towards Ventura.

After exiting the freeway, we come across Thousand Oaks and then the mountains where we enjoyed the fresh, crisp, and less-smoggy air of Ventura County. We parked the car at Mishe Mokwa trailhead, hoping to return by tomorrow afternoon.

After waiting patiently for one of my co-workers (Mike) to pick me up, we lost connection from our phones for a bit. This left us feeling very nervous thinking maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.

So our plan B was to either use Uber or Lyft (which we did). Luckily, a Lyft driver picked us up and dropped us off at Ray Miller Trailhead at Point Mugu State Park.

We started our hike going uphill and enjoying the beautiful views of the ocean, up until we reached the half-way point (Overlook Trail).

I can see the Pacific Ocean from all the way up here!

So basically, the trail divides into two sections and they both take you to Danielson Ranch, but one of them is the “true” Backbone Trail (if that makes any sense). The other trail cuts off most sections of the Backbone Trail.

We technically went the right way until I started having doubts whether we were on the right trail or not. We probably made it only a mile past and later headed to the wrong trail (which I’m not too proud of). 

However, we did reach Danielson Ranch after a looong, arduous hike down Fireline Rd. and back up Sycamore Canyon where we dodged mountain bikers along the way. I noticed that George was started to feel irritated and tired so I tried talking to him to hopefully get the negative thoughts out of his mind. I’m not going to lie, but I felt disappointed that we went the wrong way and there’s no turning back either, especially with the 30 lb. packs we were carrying on.

Actually, George was doing far worse as he doesn’t have a backpacking pack. So how does he carry his sleeping bag? By holding it in his arms. Poor guy…

Then all of a sudden, George started complaining about having a stomach pain. SHIET! We were in the middle of the goddamn trail with no WiFi so there was nothing we could do other than keep truckin’.

After two hours of constant walking, we finally made it to Danielson Ranch where we met a ranger. I told him about my friend’s stomach issues and he told me he’d give us a ride out of the park. I asked my friend if he’ll be okay to which he said, “Yes.” That was a horrible mistake.

The ranger drove off with a mountain biker, never to be seen again.

We unpacked our stuff and ate lunch. The 100 degree weather was a nightmare as we were sweating our asses off.

Poor George

To make matters worse, George complained he needed a cold drink. But being such a dumbass, I was a horrible friend and slept in my hammock for two hours while my friend was suffering. Dammit Soo. Why are you sooooooo stupid? Why?

After I woke up from my comfortable beauty nap, we tried walking to the ranger’s house. We rang the doorbell and nothing happened. We assumed nobody was home so we waited it out for about twenty minutes.

Then, we gave up.

George still kept complaining about his stomach problem so we waited to see if we could find someone who can give us a ride back to Mishe Mokwa. Yeah I know. I should’ve told the ranger earlier to give us a ride, but it’s all part of the learning experience.

We asked a fellow camper if they can contact the rangers, to which they did. Turns out, the camper is a Conservation Corps employee and her name is Desiree. She gave us a ride to the top of some mountain (don’t know the name) where she contacted Ranger Greer.

Twenty minutes later, Ranger Greer gave George and me a ride back to Mishe Mokwa, leaving both of us feeling somewhat relieved. This was definitely a learning experience for me and I can’t wait to see what happens the next time I come back.

I know George already gave up. I can tell. But I hope George learned something out of this trip as well.

Anyhoo, we drove out of the mountains and stopped at the nearest gas station to get ourselves a nice, refreshing drink. Then, we headed home where I took a week off to recover before hitting the trail again.

Day 2: Sycamore Canyon to Danielson Ranch via Wood Canyon Vista (10/25/17)

This is my continuation of hiking the “true” Backbone Trail via Wood Canyon Vista. I started maybe around 1:30 pm as I hiked from Sycamore Canyon and slogged my way up Fireline Rd.

The weather today was hella brutal and hiking in the heat was probably the dumbest idea ever. I got soooo dehydrated that I took more than a ten minute break, drinking almost all my water in the process. Plus, I had to find a shade to cool off or else I would’ve suffered a heat stroke.

I waited for maybe about twenty minutes under the shade of trees until I reached the half-way point (Overlook Trail). Once I reached the half-way point, I felt better for a bit before the heat started to slow me down again. I took another long break, resting under lots of thick brushes and making small-talk with fellow day-hikers/mountain bikers. One of the passing mountain bikers was concerned about me and wanted to call the rangers, but I reassured him that I’ll be okay as long as the weather starts cooling down. I probably waited for another hour until it was around 4 pm.

Once I regained my strength, I pushed myself to Wood Canyon Vista. Thankfully, Wood Canyon Vista was smooth-sailing the rest of the way as it’s all completely downhill for another 1.8 miles. Once I completed the trail, I headed back down through Sycamore Canyon, watching the skies change from light to mildly dark. Luckily, there were water pumps along the trail so I did not hesitate to refill my water as the coolness of the ocean breeze whizzed by.

An airplane flying across the indigo sky.

Ahhh~~~the weather never felt better as I power-walked back to the car. Once I reached my car at the campsite, I saw what looked to be a parking ticket or something. Honestly, I was wayyy too tired and out of it to really feel anxious or whatnot. Luckily, this was only a notice to park my car at the day-use next time.

Day 3: Mishe Mokwa to Sycamore Canyon (10/28/17)

The day started off pretty good. I finally met up with a designated driver, Ranger Tim and his wife, who drove me to Mishe Mokwa to continue Backbone Trail. But first, Ranger Tim and I drove to Sycamore Canyon Trailhead parking lot where I dropped off my car.

Next, Ranger Tim drove the windy road all the way to Mishe Mokwa parking lot where he dropped me off near the start of the trailhead. Thus, I started my loooong day of hiking. The trail wasn’t the easiest at first since the hills were soooo steep and almost endless to the point I was completely exhausted even during the start of the hike. Can you believe it hasn’t even been an hour? Arrghhh…I blame myself for not eating breakfast

Now, the Backbone Trail has a short side trail where you can hike to Sandstone Peak, the highest point in the Santa Monica Mountains (which I did). I’ve previously hike Sandstone Peak about three years ago and remember how popular and crowded the hike was. Today, there was noone on the trail but myself and to me, that’s always the best part of the hike: COMPLETE SOLITUDE.

The views from Sandstone Peak

After Sandstone Peak, I continued along Backbone Trail where the trail meets up with Mishe Mokwa again. There were small side trails leading to other vista points (i.e. Inspiration Point), but I didn’t bother hiking any of them because I honestly had a long way to go and was already starting to feel tired.

So I kept going…

After many long hours of anticipation, I finally started walking downhill along Chamberlain Trail. The only bad news was the weather was still brutally hot, but not as bad as the last hike. Not before long, I saw a really cool, split rock along the side of the trail (Chamberlain Rock) and decided to go check it out

It didn’t take me long until I was back in Point Mugu State Park on Old Boney Trail where I power-walked the rest of the way downhill. That was also where my foot started to get hotspots and blisters, which made the hike a little bit unbearable. The last leg of the hike was Blue Canyon Trail and from what Ranger Tim told me, during the spring, the creeks were full of water. Sadly now, the creeks are all dried-up making it look more like a desert wasteland…

After Blue Canyon, I was finally back in Danielson Ranch where I quickly refilled my half-empty water bottle.

After a looong water and snack break under the shade of the trees, I pulled myself together and hiked the relentless 5 miles (via Sycamore Canyon) back to the parking lot.

Day 4: Encinal Canyon to Mishe Mokwa (10/29/17)

The night before, I contacted Big Mike to arrange a meetup at Neptune’s Net. Keeping my hopes up, I called Big Mike to confirm if he’s still gonna meetup at the exact location. No response.

“Shit,” I thought. “This is bad!”

I probably called more than seven times even leaving a text message saying I’m on my way to still no response. I gave up after the ninth phone call and instead headed to Encinal Canyon to start my hike.

It was around 6 am. I was freezing cold and feeling miserable with only a t-shirt and jeans on (typical LA gal here). The journey wasn’t half-bad even though it started off with an incline. After passing a couple miles, I crossed a road to continue Backbone.

Continuing Backbone, I heard lots of people murmuring in the distance. And they were fast. I can tell. Turns out, they were mountain bikers and they all greeted me with a smile and a hello. It was not before long until I reached Etz Metoy Motorway which felt like hell since there was no shade, leaving me completely vulnerable to the SoCal heat. Plus, the incline felt like walking up a ton of stairs (no joke).

The only positive side though: I was LITERALLY on top of the CLOUDS!!!

After completing Etz Metoy, I was back onto Backbone Trail via Yerba Buena Rd. From there, my previous blisters from a few days ago started acting up. It was soooo painful to the point I thought the blisters were soon about to pop. So, I took a quick break, taking off my shoes and socks to let my poor foot breathe.

You can’t really see the blisters but it’s there.

I checked my phone to see if I got any response from Big Mike. Turns out, he was at Neptune’s Net at the exact time. I was pissed. I thought, “Why didn’t he just answer the goddamn phone!” I was fuming since I have to hike the 10 miles back to my car once I reach Mishe Mokwa.

Oh well, I had no other choice perhaps…

It wasn’t long until I continued my long trek down Yerba Buena Rd. to Mulholland Hwy which I crossed, yet, another road to get to the other side of Backbone.

From there, the trail was, yet again, another incline. Yerba Buena Rd. wasn’t a miserable experience though since the trail wasn’t very steep. I kept going and going until I found myself at Mishe Mokwa around 2 pm.

I took a long break before contemplating whether or not I should ask random hikers for a ride. I didn’t because I just couldn’t bring myself to do it…

Why Soo why????

Anyways so I tortuously walked back onto Yerba Buena Rd. (the main road), hoping to god I don’t get run over by crazy LA drivers.

I called Tim to let him know I reached Mishe Mokwa and that I’m okay. He then told me that Big Mike was waiting for an hour at Neptune’s Net and why I wasn’t there. I explained calmly that I thought he was asleep or something. I asked Tim that I needed a ride and he got real mad at me, saying he can’t since he’s working (and so does Big Mike). I told them I’ll think of a way to get back to my car. I mean ten miles doesn’t sound too shabby, right? Naaaaaaah…

So I sticked out my thumb, hoping some good samaritan would pick me up and take me to my car. After four miserable fails of drivers not givin’ a shit (they clearly saw me), I was about to give up.

As the fifth car was coming my way, I put my thumb up, hoping they’d stop. The car pulls over. SUCCESS!!!!

I wasted no time and threw my belongings in the car. Turns out, the drivers (let’s call them A and B) were actually Backbone thru-hikers and they saw me on the trail by myself. As we were driving back to my car, another car stops us and a woman asks out of the blue if A and B picked up a solo female hiker.

Then, she saw me and looked relieved. I knew they were talking about me as soon as they said solo female.

She thanked A and B and went about her way. A and B dropped me off to Encinal Canyon parking lot and I thanked them for their generosity. What’s surprising is that those kind drivers are LA locals. Who would’ve thought LA locals are super friendly?

Day 5: Tapia Park Traihead to Encinal Canyon (11/8/17)

Around 2:45 am, I woke up to my alarm clock blaring on my phone. The night before, I contacted Big Mike and he agreed to drop me off at Tapia Park as long as we meet at Neptune’s Net around 5 am. I hastily ate breakfast, got ready and headed out the door around 4 am.

Driving to get to Neptune’s Net wasn’t a problem since rush hour hasn’t even started yet. I arrived at the meet-up spot around 4:48 am, waiting anxiously for Big Mike to arrive. I texted him to confirm he’s still on his way and to my surprise, he responded quickly. So, we dropped off my car at Encinal Canyon parking lot and he dropped me off at Tapia Park parking lot. SUCCESS!

The sun hasn’t even rose yet, but I was still able to see in the dark despite not having a flashlight or headlamp. The trail was a steep uphill via Mesa Peak Motorway but I managed to power-walk it even though I was out of breath at times. Soon enough, I saw the colorful skies from a distance 💛.

Around 2 or 3 miles, I saw an empty picnic table where I took a quick 5-minute break. Even though I ate breakfast, I was starting to feel hungry again so I ate raspberries and bananas as snacks.

After munching on fresh fruits, I continued the hike with the incredible views of the Pacific Ocean and fancy houses standing on top of a huge hill from afar. About 5 miles of continuous walking, I made my way up to Corral Canyon (this trail happens to be on a huge rock) around 9:35 am and this was my favorite part of the hike.

Why you ask?

Because I got to see some unique-colored rocks and its formations, an arch, and what I like to call “rock art” all at once. 

If you look closely, you can see the rock crop circle under the huge boulders. I didn’t bother to get a close-up shot because I was feeling too lazy.

I didn’t get to explore Corral Canyon Cave aka “Jim Morrison’s Cave” (any Doors fans out there?) since the trailhead has been closed off. Here’s an article for those interested.

Anyhoo, I passed Corral Canyon parking lot (which was closed off as well) and continued Backbone via Latigo Canyon. This was a laid-back, easy trail which I power-walked most of the way before trekking uphill to the Latigo Canyon parking lot. But before that, there was a neat little spot under a huge shade of trees where I took another quick snack and water break.

Of course, I had to cross the road to continue Backbone Trail via Kanan Traihead. This was very similar to Latigo Canyon as the trail started downhill, was flat for a couple of miles, and then turned uphill for the rest of the trek. For the duration of the hike, the views were incredible and a part of me couldn’t believe this was SoCal. Plus, I had a quick chat with a guy who used to mountain bike this trail for over 30 years.

Seriously…this doesn’t look like SoCal at all. Don’t you agree?

BUT, I had just one problem…

I had to go number 2. And it was REALLY BAD!!!

Having no other choice, I tried to dig up a hole using a tiny stick just off the trail. Of course that was a HUGE FAIL. I couldn’t hold it anymore so I just went despite not digging 6 inches of cathole. The worst part was I had to mix dirt and my shit and it left a huge mess on my clothes and hands.

YUP…I had shit on my hands and clothes and my backpack for the rest of the hike.

And not even 30 minutes later, I was at Newton Canyon parking lot which HAS a restroom. Lesson learned…I guess…

I rested at the bench under the huge “Backbone Trail” sign on top of it. I was once again feeling hungry so I took out the container full of raspberries and chopped bananas. I really wish I brought a hand sanitizer, but luckily I had a Plan B.

Picking up a stick, I used it as a pokey stick to pick up the mushy fruits. SUCCESS!!!

Afterwards, I continued another long stretch of downhills, flats, and uphills before reaching Zuma Ridge Motorway. From there, I started to feel very tired. My legs and back were starting to get sore as my body started to cool down.

But the journey wasn’t over yet. I had to continue up Backbone Trail via Trancas Canyon Rd. and make my way up to Encinal Canyon Rd back to my car. In my mind, this hike felt endless. But in reality, it wasn’t.

I slogged my way up Trancas Canyon before the trail went downhill and flat once again. Along the route, I saw a plaque dedicated to the creation of Backbone Trail. Thanks Arnold Schwarzenegger and Betty Weider for your contributions!

As I continued my trek, I heard a bell ringing from a distance. Turns out, this bell was coming from an oncoming mountain biker who greeted me with a hello. I was too tired to say hello back so I kept on going.

Eventually, I crossed three bridges along a dried-up creek and not before long, I was almost at Encinal Canyon.

The only thing that was holding me back for a little bit was the steep uphill. So I took in-between water breaks (whenever I was REALLY tired) and then continued the last stretch of incline back onto Encinal Rd.

In my mind I was screaming, “WHOOOOHOOOOO!” as I was walking towards my car. But in reality, I barely managed to holler with my out-of-breath and useless voice.

In total, I hiked about 19.1 miles which was one of my longest trek since Mount Whitney.

Day 6: Tapia Trailhead to Trippet Ranch (11/10/17)

The day started off miserably cold as Ranger Tim dropped me off to my destination. As I looked through my phone trying to locate the start of the trail, I came to the conclusion that I had to walk to Piuma Rd. to find the trail.

As I walked by, the surroundings looked and felt different. I don’t really know how to explain it when I was at that exact moment, but I didn’t feel like I was in SoCal anymore. The whole highway was enveloped with dense trees and shrubbery, the boulders were almost non-existent, and the air smelled less…uhh…smoggy (LA peeps know what I mean).

After passing couple of private properties, I found myself trudging uphill, feeling exhausted as ever. I took a look off the ground to look outward into the open and my god, the views blew me away!

 

As I continue up the never-ending uphills and switchbacks, I finally saw a different change in scenery: boulders.

I started feeling a bit motivated again so I climbed on top of one of the boulders and ate some snacks. I relaxed for about 10 minutes enjoying the panoramic views of houses, trailers, greeneries, a satellite tower and mountains.

After a soothing and much-needed break, I headed back down the boulder onto the rocky stairs, leading me to an apex of Saddle Peak.

I finally starting going downhill to what looks like a water tank.

By now, I was at Lois Ewen Overlook which also led to the infamous, abandoned Microwave Tower built as part of the NIKE missile defense program during the cold war. Unfortunately, the abandoned tower was heavily gated and is now under private property so there was no way in hell I could go near it.

BUMMER…

Disappointed, I continued hiking Backbone Trail starting uphill and back downhill. Upon descending, I managed to take photos of the tower from above.

I was now at Hondo Canyon Trail and from hiking for many hours, I needed another break. Plus, my foot started to feel extremely sore and my body started aching pretty badly. I came across a huge flat boulder just off the trail with a huge dropoff of the greeneries down below.

That was going to be my bed for another few minutes. So I laid down like I was at the beach and took a small nap under the sun.

My temporary bed for the day

After I woke up from my little slumber, I headed back down the switchbacks until I found myself back into SoCal reality.

Desert.            Brown.            Dry.          Exposed.

As I was almost out of Hondo Canyon, I see a lone woman stopped dead in her tracks. Then I hear it,” SSSSSSSSSSS.

She told me she thinks it’s a rattlesnake. I didn’t want to risk getting near it either so we tried to see if we can throw a rock to maybe scare it? Nope. Thankfully, we were pretty far enough to be at a safe distance, but we weren’t sure if we kept moving forward if the snake or whatever it is next to the brush will lunge or attack us.

I decided I had enough. I walked over to the other side of the brush ways off the trail at a pretty safe distance so if this “snake” was to lunge at me, it would most likely miss. The lady followed closely behind me. I could still hear the “SSSSSS,” but thankfully we made it safely out of the canyon. The lady thanked me since she was terrified of snakes. We then went about our separate ways.

I was back onto Old Topanga Highway and I jaywalked across the street to the other side to continue Backbone. As I ascended up the hill, I found a nice bench to kick back and relax. I kept going until I reached another water tower and Topanga Elementary School.

Once I was at Henry Ridge Mtwy, I was pretty lost as there were multiple trails on each side leading to one place or the other. The trail was not well-marked here and so I had to use my phone with limited connection to find the right trail.

The screen of the trails were super blurry, revealing nothing but lines and this was where I had to kinda take a risk. I think I found myself backtracking three times before realizing that some trails didn’t go anywhere so by then, I was completely burnt out.

So I retraced my steps and found myself back on Henry Mtwy again. I kept going up that road, hoping the sign will pop up and thankfully it did. All I had to do was not wander off the side of the path (silly me).

By then, the connection on my phone started to get better and I was able to find Backbone Trail in amidst the chaos. I was back onto Topanga Canyon Rd. where I had to cross, yet again, another street and this was more crowded than the last. So I broke into a sprint to the other side of the road, back to the trail which led to Dead Horse Trail.

Finally, I was back at Topanga State Park at the parking lot. But this was Dead Horse parking lot not Trippet Ranch and I had another mile to hike so I decided it’s best to give my body a bit of a break before continuing on. Plus, I had a LOOOONG day…

After climbing the last stretch of the trail and getting deeper into the underbrushes, I felt more at peace. The air was cool, I started seeing fellow hikers, and the sound of the birds chirping has never felt better. Time seemed to pass so quickly because by now, I was already back at Trippet Ranch.

With my phone completely dead, I couldn’t call Ranger Tim to let him know I was okay. But, I can rest assured since I only have one more day to complete the whole 67 mile, or in my case 90 miles, of trekking through the Santa Monica Mountains.

Day 7: Trippet Ranch to Will Rogers State Park (11/11/17)

The last day…finally…

I started the hike around 8 am heading to Musch Camp. The weather was cool and cloudy making this trek a bit easy, hopefully if my foot isn’t killin’ me. After crossing two bridges and passing through dry creeks and meadows, I finally arrived at Musch Camp. I breathed a sigh of relief after seeing that there’s an “actual” bathroom in a primitive campsite, not a port-o-potty. So I took a quick break.

Then, I kept truckin’ on heading to Eagle Rock which was ridiculously steep and took forever (in my opinion). In reality , it was less than 3 miles.

Once I made it to Eagle Rock, I couldn’t help but climb the huge rock. I even took a long break, making sure to rest my achy, sore foot and staying hydrated throughout this adventure. And I gotta say the views were TOTALLY WORTH IT!

After spending 20 minutes basking in the views, I continued the long stretch of hiking to Will Rogers. To get there, I kept going on a fire road past Eagle Rock until the trail merged at The Hub.

From there, I followed the trail using my Google Map until I came across a Backbone Trail sign.

That was Rogers Rd. and so I kept following the trail which was a mix of hills and flats. There were many mountain bikers passing by, making this a real pain to move to the side especially if this was a narrow trail.

After long hours of going uphill, downhill and back to flats, I realized I was pretty close to Will Rogers  State Park.

How do I know? Cuz I can see the city from all the way here.

 

I kept going as I made my way through the thicket of trees and shrubs.At long last,  I found myself at the Lone Oak Tree where I took a quick photo and left. Honestly, I was pretty antsy and just wanted to finish the hike and get it over with rather than take more breaks.

Afterwards, I found myself almost at the end of the trail when I saw Chicken Ridge Bridge from the other side. I was feeling pretty ecstatic that moment. But if I had to be honest, I would’ve ran to get there. The only thing holding me back was my whole body was aching and tired so I was pretty much slogging my way there.

Before Chicken Ridge Bridge, I came across an interesting tree with a tiny Buddha statue, hair clip, football, and lots of coins. I call this tree “The Giving Tree.” 

And no sooner after passing The Giving Tree, I finally made it to Chicken Ridge Bridge. I almost had the views to myself until I saw a family walk towards it (bummer…). But that also means no selfies (which I don’t really do).

Anyhoo, I pushed the last few miles and finished Backbone at last. So now the trail ends up either at Inspiration Point or back to the Will Rogers State Park parking lot. I chose the latter since I’ve already hiked up to Inspiration Point many times. Here is a photo of my previous hike:

No sooner than 30 minutes, I come across an acquaintance and we start chatting about how we’re doing and stuff. Turns out, he comes here everyday just to hike up Chicken Ridge Bridge and do yoga. He’s currently trying to hold a world record for climbing Chicken Ridge Bridge as many times as he can  which makes sense.

We got each other’s contact info in case we wanted to hike together and then we parted ways. I finally reached the ranger’s office and Ranger Tim congratulated me for completing all 67 (well…90 miles) of thru-hiking. He drove me back to my car which was parked at Trippet.

Usually after an accomplishment I reward myself with beer, but I was too tired to celebrate and immediately passed out after coming home. So the next day, I ate Souplantation with my brother and my friend, Emily, as a “late” reward.

By the way, here is a fun little video that gives you a glimpse of what it’s like to section hike Backbone Trail. Enjoy.

Lessons Learned and Tips on Future Preparation

1. Always plan ahead. This was my first mistake and I took this trail for granted for the most part. Plan out your gear, what you need to bring and what not to bring, etc. Are you going backpacking or day-hiking? Are you planning on going solo or with a partner? Have you arranged a ride or plan on taking Uber/Lyft once you completed the trail? These are important in order to make sure you have a great thru-hike or any future backpacking trip adventure.

2. Always check the weather. This was another mistake I made but given the time constraint and wanting to get this hike over with, its understandable. If you do end up hiking in hot, rainy, or any extreme weather conditions, just make sure you have a turnaround time. But in SoCal usually weather isn’t always THAT extreme, but heat stroke can happen. So always stay hydrated and stay in the shade to cool off from the heat until your able to keep going. It’s better safe than sorry.

3. If you are backpacking Backbone Trail, make sure to water-cache in some areas. Between Danielson Ranch and Tapia, you won’t find any water so it’s best to hide it somewhere where you’ll remember either in a parking spot or behind some bushes/trees. And think of it like a fun scavenger hunt to keep yourself off boredom if the trail feels like forever.

4. I mentioned this before and I’ll say it again…

STAY HYDRATED! Since this is a strenuous hike, it’s likely you’ll be dehydrated even if the weather is cold. Also, make sure to keep up on carbs. Eat fruits, pasta, anything to give you energy so that you don’t end up torturing yourself especially on long treks.

5. Bring a map if you can! I know we have technology at our fingertips so it’s more accessible to finding your location through GoogleMaps. But what if your phone dies? Not unless you’re a human GPS, Backbone Trail can get pretty confusing to find especially at Point Mugu State Park and Topanga State Park so I highly recommend you bring a map or buy one from each state park for less than $10. Thankfully Ranger Tim had an map of Point Mugu so I was able to locate the trail despite getting lost at first try.

6. Lastly, always expect the unexpected. Let me explain. If it comes down to anything really (i.e. mountain lion encounter, hiking injuries, getting lost, etc.), always be mentally prepared. If you have a partner, GREAT! But if you’re solo-hiking, just know how to handle the situation. Remember it’s all about planning ahead (refer to #1).

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