Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Experience the Magic of the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks in October

For those of you looking for fun outdoor activities for the family in the month of October at the Irvine Ranch National Landmark, you might want to check out some of the following events

Experience the Magic of the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks in October
Free Seasonal Festive Programs for Families in the Great Outdoors

ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. (September 25, 2015) – This Halloween season families are invited to explore the great outdoors and experience the magic of the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks in October.  Discover unique historical tales about the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks. Each month, a different culture and celebration is highlighted with an outdoor program presented in multiple languages. 

On Saturday, October 10 at 6 p.m. experience the Mexican celebration, Día de los Muertos in the natural beauty of Black Star Canyon.

Explore the wild canyons and hidden foothills of Black Star Canyon on Friday, October 16 from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Enjoy a slow-paced hike to explore Orange County’s beautiful wild canyons and hidden foothills as you hear stories from how the geology was formed underfoot to tales of the plants and animals that call these protected habitats home.

On Saturday, October 17 from 10 .m. to 12 p.m. visit Limestone Canyon Nature Preserve to discover the bones of animals and learn about how they are similar or different to human bones. Young hikers will have the opportunity to examine an owl pellet for real animal’s bones, paint a unique bone creation and go on a bone dig like a real paleontologist to learn all about bones. The activities will take place in the Augustine staging area with plenty of fun activities. 

On Friday, October 23 at 5:30 p.m., bring the whole family to Limestone Canyon Nature Preserve to get to know the flying mammal, the bat. Hear fascinating tales of the creature and take a guided tour out towards a popular bat roosting location to watch as the nighttime wonders start their evening adventures.

Saturday, October 24 returns to Limestone Canyon Nature Preserve for a family friendly full moon hike to Agua Chinon. Beginning at 5 p.m., an easy pace will allow time to enjoy the surrounding sights and sounds of night and the breathtaking view of the full moon.

On Halloween, Saturday, October 31, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Irvine Ranch Conservancy in partnership with OC Parks is pleased to host the annual Halloween Zoo-Tacular! Bring the family to see the animals of the OC Zoo while they receive treat-filled pumpkins throughout the day. Enjoy fun activities including trick-or-treating, spooky crafts, a scavenger hunt and festive games. The first 100 children, ages 12 and under, to arrive in Halloween costumes receive a free gift.  

Visit for more information and to register for free today.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Acorn Day October 3 at O'Neill Regional Park

For those of you looking for fun outdoor activities for the family, you might want to check out Acorn Day at O'Neill Regional Park:


(Trabuco Canyon, Calif.) – Come celebrate Acorn Day under the oaks at O’Neill Regional Park Saturday, Oct. 3 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  The free, family-friendly day of excitement and learning offers activities for every age: free crafts for kids, a live butterfly enclosure, active games, face painting, live music, nature exhibits, oak tree planting and ukulele lessons for kids.

One hour, beginner-level guided nature hikes to the water tower will be offered at 9 and 10 a.m. 

Presentations throughout the day include Journeys to the Past, Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary, Inside the Outdoors, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Reserve K-9 Program, the Hummingbird Story and a live butterfly release at 2:30 p.m. by Western Monarch Guardians. 

Participants include OC Trails, the Helena Modjeska Foundation, Tree of Life Nursery, Orange County Fire Watch, OC Parks, Earthroots Field School, the Saddleback Area Historical Society, Western Bluebird Society, Saddleback Canyon Riders, SHARE Mountain Bike Club, Southwestern Field Herping Associates, and the Institute for Wildlife Studies and more. 

October 4 – Acorn Day
10 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Cost: Free
Parking: Free
Location: O’Neill Regional Park
Address: 30892 Trabuco Canyon Road
Contact: (949) 923-2260,

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Hiking Mt. San Gorgonio (Via the Vivian Creek Trail)

As part of our training to hike to the top of Mt. Whitney in 2015, we climbed Mt. San Gorgonio via the Vivian Creek Trail. Myself and two buddies from work, Bryan and Dustin, made the climb the two weekends before the Lake Fire broke out in that area. A hike to the summit of Mt. San Gorgonio, via the Vivian Creek Trail, is one of Southern California's monster hikes and is great for training for a Mt. Whitney climb. Mt. San Gorgonio, at an elevation of 11,502 feet, is the tallest peak in Southern California and is a must do hike for any Southern California Hiker.

Directions to Trailhead: To get to the Vivian Creek Trailhead, from Orange County, take the 91 freeway east towards Riverside. Stay on the 91 freeway which eventually becomes the 215 freeway. The 215 freeway eventually intersects with Interstate 10. At the 215 freeway and Interstate 10 interchange, take Interstate 10 heading East toward Palm Springs. Exit from interstate 10 on University which is in the city of Redlands. Make a left on University and follow University (You will pass through Redlands University) until you meet Highway 38. Make a right on Highway 38 going toward the San Bernardino Mountains. In several miles you will pass the Mill Creek Ranger Station (Where you obtain the additional wilderness permit if you have not gotten it early), continue on up into the San Bernardino National Forest. Several miles pass the Mill Creek Ranger station, you will make a right at Forest Falls Road. At the very end of Forest Falls Road is where the trailhead begins at 6,080 feet. There are several parking lots at the trailhead (A Forest Adventure Pass is needed as well as a Wilderness Permit for the San Gorgornio Wilderness).

Description of Hike: To day hike or overnight backpack in the San Gorgonio Wilderness, you must have an additional wilderness permit (The Permit is Free), in addition to the Forest Adventure Pass. You can Follow this link for the permit. The link will direct you to the wilderness permit application. You can obtain the additional wilderness permit early from the Mill Creek Ranger Station which is the easiest way, or you will have to stop at the Mill Creek Ranger Station before you go hiking. Each trail has a set quota for the number of hikers allowed on each hiking trail in the San Gorgonio Wilderness and once the quota is reached the National Forest Service does not issue more wilderness permits for the hiking trail. That is why we recommend you get your wilderness permit early. You can obtain a permit 90 days before your hike in the San Gorgonio Wilderness. We did see a ranger checking for permits when we did one of our two hikes in June of 2015.

Mt. San Gorgonio is located in the San Gorgonio Wilderness (58,968 Acres). The Vivian Creek Trail is the shortest and steepest route to the summit of Mt. San Gorgonio. The total length of the hike is approximately 16 miles roundtrip with a 5,600 foot elevation gain. We used this hike as a training hike for Mt. Whitney and hiking to the summit in one day. For those hikers/backpackers looking to enjoy the experience more, backpacking is the definitely way to go. Backpacking on the mountain and spending multiple days on the mountain allows you the time to really enjoy the beauty of this hike. Ashley and I would recommend camping at the High Creek Camp or the Halfway Camp if you are going to be spending multiple nights on your hike to Mt. San Gorgonio via the Vivian Creek Trail.

One and two-tenths miles from the trailhead is Vivian Creek Camp (7,100 ft.). Campsites are located up slope to the right of the trail after reaching the stream: one is halfway up the slope, and the other is at the top of the slope (There is no camping within 200 feet of the trail or creek). One and three-tenths miles from Vivian Creek Camp is Halfway Camp (8,100 ft.). Water is obtained from the creek approximately 200 yards before camp. Two and three-tenths miles further is High Creek Camp (9,200 ft.). Water is also available at the high creek camp. The summit of San Gorgonio (11,502 ft) is 3 miles beyond High Creek Camp. For Current Water Conditions on Mt. San Gorgonio and water levels in the streams click Here to go to the San Gorgonio Wilderness Association's website.

The Vivian Creek Trail is a very popular hiking trail to take to the summit of Mt. San Gorgonio and you will likely see other hikers on the trail as well as tents in the campsites. We saw multiple groups of hikers while on our two hikes in June 2015. The trail is well maintained and is usually in good condition. This hike is very strenuous and only fit hikers should hike to the summit of Mt. San Gorgonio. It is a good idea to train on other hikes in preparation for Mt. San Gorgonio. A list of good training hikes is below.

Further Thoughts: Our group used this as a training hike for our upcoming Mt. Whitney hike. We did this hike twice in June 2015, but only made the summit once out of the two hikes, due to altitude issues. Our group was amazing to see how dry this area was. I have been hiking in this area for a number of years and have never seen the area so dry, due to the continuing drought in Southern California. This is an amazing training hike for anyone looking to hike to the top of Mt. Whitney and is one of the toughest hikes to do in one day in all of Southern California.

We were prepared for the hike with plenty of water and supplies. During our hikes, we had great weather, that even bordered on the edge of being too warm on one of our two hikes. For a majority of the hike we were rewarded with sweeping views of Southern California. One of the steepest portions of the hike to the top of Mt. San Gorgonio on the Vivian Creek Trail is in the first mile and a half after you cross the river near the beginning of the trailhead. The really steep portion ends once you reach Vivian Creek Camp. This is always one of the most difficult sections of the hike. If you want an idea of the current weather and conditions of the San Gorgonio Wilderness, click Here for a live webcam of Mt. San Gorgonio courtesy of During the summer months, always be on the watch for thunderstorms. June is usually a little early for the summer monsoon season, but anything can happen in this area. While on our hikes we had dark clouds that developed, but they never turned into thunderstorms.

Most of the year, there is plenty of water to filter along sections of the Vivian Creek Trail. However, during some summer and fall months, there may not be as much water in the springs/streams as compared to other years. Water information is provided by the San Gorgonio Wilderness Association. We filtered our water from the creek at high creek camp. It is always a great idea to bring your water filter with you on this hike. Everyone from our group would attest, the most deceptive part about this hike is the false summit that is present on the hike. Just remember when you appear to be getting near the summit, you have a little bit further than you think. Our entire group made the summit and spent about an hour at the top soaking in the views!

Rating: Elevation Gain: 5,600 ft. (Strenuous), Distance: 16 Miles Roundtrip (Strenuous), Note: be on the watch for Altitude sickness since the height of Mt. San Gorgonio is 11,502 ft.

Time to Complete Hike: 7.5 - 10 hours.

Good Training Hikes: Mt. Baden-Powell, Mt. San Jacinto, Saddleback Mountain,Cucamonga Peak, Mt. Baldy.


South Fork Loop (August 2014)

Mt. San Gorgonio (Via the South Fork Trail, June 2015)(This Post)

Friday, September 18, 2015

Everest Movie Trailer

For those of you that are avid readers of anything Everest, or high altitude climbing, we are sure that you will want to see the new Everest movie that came out this week. Ashley and I saw the movie this Friday evening and were glad we did.  We give the movie high reviews, not just its amazing cinematography, but also for its heroic and tragic portrayal of the 1996 Everest disaster. It has been several years since either Ashley or I read the book Into Thin Air, but we believe this movie was every bit as good and it fits in line with our recollection of Jon Krakauer's book. The movie is well done and is worth seeing on the big screen. For those of you that have not scene the trailer, here it is for you.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Autum Harvest Festival And Haunt At Heritage Hill


(Lake Forest, Calif.) – Heritage Hill Historical Park offers fall fun for all ages at the family-friendly Autumn Harvest Festival Oct. 10 and the eighth annual Haunt at Heritage Hill for serious scares Oct. 16 and 17.

Join us for Autumn Harvest Festival, the ultimate Halloween adventure at Heritage Hill Historical Park. The park will once again be decorated for the fall season as an adventure-filled festival. Enjoy exciting attractions throughout the park, including: Legends of Oz, Department of Jurassic Parks & Recreation, Adventures of Indiana Jones, Tikis, Tides, and Tales, Gotham City Laser Tag, and the Lake Forest All-Star Glow Party. The adventure continues with trick or treat stations, game booths, face painting, balloon artist, princesses, and the costume parade on stage. Come ready in costume with trick or treat bag in hand as the adventure takes you to places beyond your imagination! 

Dare to be a part of the eighth annual Haunt at Heritage Hill as the park is once again transformed into a haunted adventure. This Halloween teen/adult event will include: the Haunt at Heritage Hill Maze, The Joker’s Sideshow Maze, two scare zones, fortune telling, photo booth, DJ with light show, screenings of classic horror movies, and many other scary surprises!  Feel free to join in the fun and come dressed as your favorite character or in your best costume, but please no masks. Be the first in the know and get the inside scoop by going to.  Be ready to have fun, be ready to be scared, be ready to laugh, and be ready to scream!

Heritage Hill Historical Park
25151 Serrano Road, Lake Forest, CA 92630
(949) 923-2230 or (949) 461-3450

October 10 – Autumn Harvest Festival
4 - 9 p.m.
Event Cost: $5 per person ages 3 and up; Fees for attractions and games range from $.25 to $1
Parking: FREE
(Recommended for all ages)

October 16 & 17 – Haunt at Heritage Hill
6 – 10 p.m.
Event Cost: $8 per person
Parking: FREE
(Recommended for 12 years and up)