Water Filtration in the Outdoors

Let’s start out by saying, you must always filter water when you’re getting it from an outdoor source. Streams, lakes, rivers, pooled water, creeks or any other place you can think of requires proper filtration before being able to drink safely.

Water in most places has some form of parasite presence, and although many of these won’t cause any permanent or long-term damage, they will cause short-term issues which could lead to other problems.

Now we know that you need to treat water, which methods are the most effective… There are many different types of filtration systems available nowadays, pens that use ultra-violet light to kill bacteria, tablets you drop in a water bottle, water bottles with filtration as you drink and systems that pump water through a filter and out into a ready container. My favorite, based solely on personal preference is the type that has a separate filter such as this Katadyn (the kind I carry).

Here are some other examples, something else that does play into what you should carry will be weight and duration of your trip. Check these products out for yourself, try some and see what works best for you.

Bottle Style Filtration: Katadyn MyBottle Water Purifier
Light Pen: SteriPEN Adventurer Opti Water Purifier
List of options: REI Water Filtration Options

Always remember that the type and length of your trip will determine what you should carry with you, the longer the trip, the more weight conscious you’ll need to be. Also things like if you have water sources available along the route, you wouldn’t want to carry a heavy water filtration system if you’ll be packing in most of your water to begin with.

Hope these were helpful!

Top 5 Southern California Backpacking and Camping Trips for Fall

Fall is here and winter is approaching, time to start planning trips closer to home! The temperatures are right (at least in Southern California areas), so I thought I’d put together a list of the top 5 Southern California destinations.

Anza Borrego
What can be said about Anza Borrego that I haven’t already said, it’s one of my favorite places and lucky for Southern Californians it’s one of the easiest trips to make. No reservations are needed, unlimited roads to take and you can hike, camp or backpack anywhere you please. Everything from Mud Caves, streams, canyons and every eco-system from deserts to mountains. Anza Borrego ia located off the 8 freeway from San Diego or from the 78 off the 15 if you’re heading in from the north through Temecula. From San Diego the trip is only an hour or two (depending on where you go) and from Los Angeles the trip is about 3 hours. Check out the Anza Borrego State Park website for more info on where to plan your trip (it’s the largest state park in the country so there are hundreds of options!)

Joshua Tree National Park
Another Southern California local spot that has great camping and backpacking opportunities with plenty of options for every adventurer. This local spot is a rock climbers paradise with plenty of top rope and bouldering options, check with the Joshua Tree National Park website for details and locations on campgrounds (backpacking wilderness permits are also available).

Channel Islands – Santa Cruz Island
Channel Islands is located off the Ventura Coast and can be accessed from Santa Barbara or Ventura by way of a boat charter (about $60-$70). There is one main charter company running trips everyday but I’m sure more exist, I linked the one I’ve used above. We went last year around Christmas to the Santa Cruz Island, one of eight islands and is one of five that is included as part of the Channel Islands National Park. They have 4 backcountry sites available year-round on Santa Cruz Island and offers some of the best scenery I’ve seen. The sunset is amazing and with only 4 sites available on the backpacker sites, you’ll be almost guaranteed a private beach to hike to and relax on during the day.

Santa Rosa/San Jacinto Wilderness
Santa Cruz/San Jacinto mountains are located just southwest of Palm Springs. It’s an easy drive form San Diego or Los Angeles and offers numerous opportunities for camping, hiking and sightseeing. Much of the land is managed by BLM and has plenty of information on their website. One famous hike done in this area is the Cactus to Clouds hike, starting at the bottom on the desert floor and hiking to the top of a 10,000 foot peak. Definitely not for the faint of heart, more options are available for the less physical types of trips.

Catalina
Catalina is perfectly located for all of Southern California, not too far for anyone to make this a weekend trip. Like Channel Islands, this trip is only accessible by way of a boat charter. The island features wild Bison, fox, birds and plenty of other wildlife to see while hiking. You can get backcountry and hiking permits and have a wild experience all with ocean views.

Havasupai Falls Hike and Campground Review Grand Canyon

I can summarize the Havasupai Falls Hike and Campground in one sentence (or less), the most amazing place I’ve ever been.

The end…

But, in the interest of letting you know what to expect, I’ll give you some details.

From San Diego the drive is about 9 hours, give or take. You head up like you’d be going to Vegas, straight up the 15 freeway until you hit the 41 toward Needles. Take the 41 east for a few hours until you reach Kingman, Az. When you hit Kingman you’ll take the 66 to Hualapai Highway 18 (only one way you can go). On the 18 be very careful of the wildlife, it’s everywhere. Horses, cows, giant rabbits, deer and plenty of others. All of which stay pretty close to the road.

Once you reach the parking lot (exactly 60 miles on highway 18), park and let the hike begin. We arrived in the parking lot about 11:00pm and slept (or tried to) in the car. In the morning it seemed like many people drove out Friday night and stayed in their cars as well.

Starting the hike toward the village of Supai you immediately begin a steep decent into the canyon.

Hualapai Hilltop Starting the Hike View

Hualapai Hilltop Starting the Hike View

Once you start hiking down, it’ll only take about 30 minutes before you hit the canyon floor. Most of the hike is pretty much downhill (hint: cut your toenails, they’ll be jammed into your shoes the entire hike in). On the way in we saw tons of wild horses (as well as packs of mules and horses flying by)

Wild Horses in the Grand Canyon on Havasupai Hike

Wild Horses in the Grand Canyon on Havasupai Hike

You’ll see plenty of amazing canyon walls and sandy washes.

Grand Canyon walls on the way to Supai

Grand Canyon walls on the way to Supai

Plenty of amazing plants and flowers.

Flowers in the Grand Canyon on the way to Supai

Flowers in the Grand Canyon on the way to Supai

Signs you’ll see on the way down (and it’s really marked, don’t worry about that woman in the 70’s you heard about getting lost – it’s much better now)

Supai Campground and Hualapai Hilltop sign in the Grand Canyon

Supai Campground and Hualapai Hilltop sign in the Grand Canyon

Then once you get past the main chunk of the hike, the magic begins!

Navajo Falls in the Grand Canyon at Supai

Navajo Falls in the Grand Canyon at Supai

The first set of falls you see are Navajo Falls (and probably my favorite). It looks like you’ve walked into an amusement park, something completely staged and beyond what words could describe. The hike you made to get it in makes the feeling that much sweeter.

Once you pull yourself away from Navajo Falls, you’ll come around down a hill to the most popular falls Havasu Falls.

Havasu Falls in the Grand Canyon at Supai

Havasu Falls in the Grand Canyon at Supai

You’ll pass Havasu Falls (maybe after a swim, or come back later to swim like we did), then you’ll come to the actual campground.

Campground at Supai Indian Reservation

Campground at Supai Indian Reservation

One picture is a view from our camp spot, right on an amazing blue-green river. Be sure when you get in the campground, don’t settle on your site too early. If you keep going, there are tons of spots. Everything is first come first serve so you won’t have an assigned spot. There are over one hundred sites so take your time.

After setting up camp we went back to Havasu Falls to take in the scene and do some swimming.

Swimming below Havasu Falls in the Grand Canyon

Swimming below Havasu Falls in the Grand Canyon

After swimming for a while we thought it’s time to check out the other falls, the next falls were about 2 miles down the trail… Mooney Falls. This fall was about 200 feet, taller than Niagara Falls.

Mooney Falls in the Grand Canyon at Supai

Mooney Falls in the Grand Canyon at Supai

The first site of the falls is breath-taking.

Descend at your own risk sign at Mooney Falls at Supai

Descend at your own risk sign at Mooney Falls at Supai

Coming through the crazy descent at Mooney Falls at Supai

Coming through the crazy descent at Mooney Falls at Supai

Mooney Falls in the Grand Canyon at Supai

Mooney Falls in the Grand Canyon at Supai

Be careful on your way down, the descend at your own risk sign is serious business. Once you start down the trail to Mooney Falls the trail becomes steep cliff side. There are thick wires drilled in the cliff side but with the spray coming off the falls it gets pretty sketchy. We definitely thought a few times about what have we just got in to?.?.

One secret, I can’t giveaway the exact location (unless you ask) but there’s a secret grotto underneath one of the waterfalls, you can swim into the grotto and relax from under the falls.

All in all, best trip and experience of my life. I’ll leave you with some photos, hope you enjoyed it as much as I have!

Tree in the Grand Canyon

Tree in the Grand Canyon


Walking through the village of Supai

Walking through the village of Supai


Rock pillars in Supai Grand Canyon

Rock pillars in Supai Grand Canyon


Stream through the campground at Supai

Stream through the campground at Supai


View from below Havasu Falls in the Grand Canyon

View from below Havasu Falls in the Grand Canyon


Navajo Falls

Navajo Falls


Tree in the grand canyon

Tree in the grand canyon


Rock formations in the Grand Canyon

Rock formations in the Grand Canyon


View from the top rim of the Grand Canyon at Havasupai Indian Reservation

View from the top rim of the Grand Canyon at Havasupai Indian Reservation

San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve – North County San Diego Hiking

There are unlimited trails and hiking opportunities in San Diego County, the San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve is a beautiful mix of coastal marshland with unparalleled ocean views. There are some magical sights and sounds to take in while hiking the reserve, below are some shots from our trip through the area. Beware, there are some areas that are off limits to hikers and we advise visitors to obey all posted signs as these help keep protected resources intact for future generations to enjoy.

Entrance to the Mushroom Caves

Mushroom Caves Lizard

Mushroom Caves View

Mushroom Caves in SD

Domelands Anza Borrego Hike

Domelands Anza Borrego

Domelands Anza Borrego, unlimited space and hidden treasures waiting around every corner.

Perfection up every hill, around every bend, through each slot canyon and over dry waterfalls. Wind blown caves, indian pictographs and water forged slots are just a small piece of what you’ll enjoy on this hike.

One thing I realized on this hike, it’s not for the beginning hiker. If going on this hike, you need to know what you’re doing and if not, you need to go with someone who knows the area.

You’ll see some of the most beautiful scenery with some very secluded and peaceful wilderness, so much so, I’m going to let the pictures speak to and describe the experience.

Domelands Slot Canyon Anza Borrego
Shot from a slot canyon out in the Domelands Anza Borrego

Domelands Anza Borrego sky through a slot canyon
Looking at the sky through a crack in a slot canyon

Domelands Anza Borrego rays of sunshine in a slot canyon
Ray of sunshine coming through a slot canyon

Slot Canyon at Domelands Anza Borrego
Another slot canyon shot

Walking through a canyon in the Domelands
Walking through a slot canyon in the Domelands

Domelands Indian Pictographs in Anza Borrego
Indian Pictographs out in the Domelands

Domelands Wash Canyon
The power of water has carved tons of canyons just like this

Domelands Seashell Walls
Many of the rock formations you see at the Domelands are made of compacted seashells like this one

Domelands Anza Borrego First Sighting
First View of the Domelands coming into sight

Domelands Anza Borrego Wind Arch
Wind and water carved arch

Domelands
Top of the hill shot coming into the Domelands

De Luz Santa Margarita Trail

A great section of the Santa Margarita River is located in North County San Diego in a rural area of Fallbrook called De Luz.  This is a very scenic hike which features the Santa Margarita River twisting and turning its way through boulder sections and is outlined by Oak trees and Willows.  This trail offers year-round exploring as the main trail is covered by the shade of the countless Oak trees and boulders.  You will also find many alternate trails that lead up the hillsides or down to the water where there are spots to lounge or play in the water with your kids and/or dogs.

To access the trailhead, take Mission Road (in Fallbrook) to Pico Avenue.  Pico turns into De Luz Road which will take you through some twists and turns that leads to a fork.  Take the fork to the right to take Sandia Creek Road for another mile or so.  There will be a large dirt parking lot on your right just before the river crossing, park here.

De Luz Santa Margarita Trail

Trailhead

De Luz Santa Margarita Trail

The first half mile of the trail features some rocky, slippery sections that hug the side of the steep slope.  These are fun sections as you can take multiple routes but you must be careful making your way around.  The beautiful trail continues and rises a bit above the river, giving way to a mystical image of the trail’s surroundings.  Be careful of poison oak alongside the trail and also keep your eye out for edible elderberries in the summer and chickweed in the cooler months.
De Luz Santa Margarita Trail

Start of trail

De Luz Santa Margarita Trail

Fun Trail Section

The trail is pretty well-marked so just keep your eyes out for the trail signs unless you want to follow one of the various trails that leads to the water or in another direction.  At about 2.5 miles there is a fork which you can take to the left to follow Willow Glen Trail, or to the right which will lead you to a shaded area where you can relax on the rocks and enjoy the sounds of the water.  It is about 5 miles round trip to here, or you can continue through for another mile (3.5 miles) which will lead you to Willow Glen Road where you can leave or meet a vehicle.

De Luz Santa Margarita Trail

De Luz Santa Margarita Trail

De Luz Santa Margarita Trail

This trail is also great for running as it is flat with very little elevation gain and provides a lot of shade.  It is also great for a nice hike by yourself, with children, pets, of if you are feeling lucky with your fishing pole.  Take advantage of the many outdoor areas that North County has to offer!  As always, leave no trace, only footprints.

Winter Camping Gear

Living in San Diego County makes camping a year-round activity because of our warm climate and great conditions.  Winter time can get a bit chilly in our deserts and mountains, but nothing compared to most wilderness areas across the states.  Don’t let the colder temperatures keep you from your adventures in the winter time!  Here are a few items to keep you warmer on your trips:

Layering.  Bringing layers is key to keeping you warm on those cold nights around the campfire and in your tent.  Wool and synthetics are great options because they retain heat and help you stay comfortable.  Thermals are also a great idea for insulation to build your layers with.  A nice down jacket is your best option to go on top of your layers and it is also light and compactable if you’re backpacking.

Your extremities are going to be your biggest priority which are your hands, feet, and head.  There are tons of choices in gloves these days such as synthetics, cloth, and leather.  Make sure to pick a glove that fits your needs and is not too bulky so you can still perform your needed tasks.  Wool socks are your best option to keep you warm and dry.  25% of your body heat escapes through your head so make sure to wear a nice beanie or maybe even something that covers your face as well.

Some of the latest technology for heat retaining gear is the omni-tech products and material.  The omni-heat material contains a reflective inside layer of silver dots that reflects your body heat back to you, retaining your own body heat.  The outside layer is waterproof and the inside is very breathable which keeps you dry on the inside as well.  This is great for keeping warm in cold conditions, staying dry, and even staying cool in warmer conditions.

Winter Camping Gear

Outside of omni-heat jacket

Winter Camping Gear

Inside of omni-heat jacket

Lastly, make sure to keep yourself warm during bedtime by sleeping on a pad which will provide insulation from the cold ground.  Using liners in your sleeping bag will also increase temperature and keep you warm.

We all know that this time of year gets very cold (even here in Southern California) but don’t let that keep you from getting out of the city.  Use these tips on keeping warm and enjoy yourself this winter!