Tag Archives: hiking

Weekend Escape to Big Bear Lake

“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny space you occupy in the world.” – Gustave Flaubert

With my hubby and I both home last weekend with nothing on the agenda, we decided to  take a road trip to a place we’d never visited before: Big Bear Lake. Located in the San Bernardino Mountains about 2 1/2 hours away from our house in San Diego’s North County, Big Bear Lake is a popular destination known for its winter ski slopes as well as summertime water sports.  
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My hubby had brought up the idea of camping in the area mid-last week. However, all of the campsites at the lakeside campground I wanted to stay at were already reserved. Plus fires aren’t currently allowed there because of the extremely dry conditions and high fire danger, and that’s kind of my favorite part of camping, so we decided to leave the pup home and go for a long day trip to Big Bear instead. We headed out bright and early on Saturday morning, with breakfast on-the-go:

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Road trip breakfast: Siggi’s yogurt, Van’s cocoa cereal, blueberries, Blue Diamond almonds and dried bananas

Like much of California, the trip to Big Bear was a gorgeous ride. The town is named after the Grizzly bears that inhabit the area, which I was kind of hoping to spot while we were there (within a safe distance), but no such luck!
Big Bear grizzly bear

Once we got into the area, we popped into the Big Bear Discovery Center to obtain a parking pass and get further info about the trail we wanted to hike: Cougar Crest – Bertha Peak. After researching the trails in the Big Bear area, this one seemed to be the best half-day hike for us. The hike is about 7 miles from the trailhead, and pretty soon after you start hiking, the views are beautiful: lots of trees and green, and a nice view of Big Bear Lake and surrounding mountains!  Big Bear-2The hike had a nice steady incline a lot of the time. We were happy that it wasn’t too steep because both A and I felt a little short of breath from the elevation, which we aren’t used to! Big Bear Lake sits at around 7,000 feet in elevation.Big Bear-1

The Cougar Crest Trail ends at the juncture of the world-famous Pacific Crest Trail, known as the PCT. This was kind of cool for us because we watched the movie Wild recently, the non-fiction movie starring Reese Witherspoon about a woman who hikes 1,100 miles of the PCT in hopes of finding herself and getting a fresh start. The movie itself was just okay, but being a hiker, I was intrigued at the movie’s concept. The PCT runs all the way down from Mexico up to Canada!

PCT sign

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Clevenger Canyon North Hike [Weekend Recap]

Hi friends!

How was your weekend? My weekend unofficially kicked off with a fun blogger meet up in the Little Italy section of San Diego. I had been wanting to meet up with Laura from Sprint 2 the Table since she moved into the area a few months ago, and blogger friends of hers Lucie and Meghan were in town visiting last week, so I had the chance to meet all three of these ladies. Prep Kitchen blogger meet up

So what do healthy living bloggers do when they get together? If we aren’t meeting for a workout, we usually eat, drink, and chat away (as was the case)! Even though I worked on Friday, Thursday night felt like the unofficial start to my weekend.

My actual weekend started off with Friday evening shenanigans at a nearby park with my dingo. It had been raining that morning and was a crisp air, dreary kind of day, but I decided that we’d get outside anyways for some exercise…
Calavera Preserve rainy hiking

Going to a park when the weather isn’t great is kind of fun because there’s no one around. The trails were muddy and Harley ran around getting herself dirty, while I hit the trails with her doing exercises like walking squats, jump squats and high knees. This is the kind of stuff you can do when you have the entire park to yourself! We both got a workout in and I found the weather change kind of soul soothing – plus we need rain here badly!

Other weekend fun included finding the cutest farm just a few minutes away from my house, where the owner was happy to chat with me about what he’s growing, the history of the family farm, and what he’s picking soon (strawberries and tomatoes!)…  Couple Berry Farm Stand

…some kitchen experimenting, which resulted in one successful recipe, and one recipe fail: pb and jelly bar recipe fail

These peanut butter & jelly oatmeal bars tasted great, but the texture just came out too crumbly. I may bake a few apples and crumble the bars on top since they didn’t exactly turn out like bars that I can grab on-the-go. Ahh well, you win some and you lose some!

And then there was my Sunday morning Mother’s Day hike with my little family. We ventured out to the countryside, just about 40 minutes away, to explore a new hiking spot: Clevenger Canyon-9I first heard about this hike when checking out a hiking book that covers trails within 60 miles of San Diego. Not surprisingly, I’ve already done most of the hikes that are moderate to difficult, but I jotted down a few that I hadn’t done before, and Clevenger Canyon was one of them.

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Hiking to Potato Chip Rock [2015 Edition]

Hi friends!

Hope that you had a great weekend. I’ve been back to the work grind on this Monday and have been busy, busy, busy! But I’m popping in to recap the highlight of my weekend with you guys: hiking to Potato Chip Rock!

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My cousin Michelle and I have been talking about getting together for a hike excursion for awhile, and set a date for last Saturday. She drove down from where she lives in Long Beach to stay the night at my place on Friday, and Saturday morning we set out to the Lake Poway Recreational Reserve.

Lake Poway

I hiked to Potato Chip Rock once before with my hubby 2+ years ago (recap here <– throwback post!), so I was able to reference my blog post beforehand to jog my memory about the hike and see how long it took me the first time, as well as how I described the hike being difficulty-wise. Bloggers, do any of you reference your blog to remember details of things you’ve done before too? I seem to do it pretty often! It’s particularly helpful if I can’t remember the name of a restaurant or something, but know I mentioned it on the blog when I traveled to a certain place, or something along those lines.

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We began the hike a little before 10 AM. The Mount Woodson trail was pretty crowded with hikers, with everyone from older people with walking sticks to trail runners, dogs and younger kids alike. It was a gorgeous day, with the temperature hitting around 80 degrees. The sun felt really strong and hot, but luckily there was a nice breeze going most of the time.

Mount Woodson-2

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Cedar Creek Falls Hike Recap

“Climb mountains not so that the world can see you, but so you can see the world.”

Happy Friday!

Any fun Super Bowl or weekend plans? Speaking of the weekend, today I’m hopping back a few weekends to talk about where I spent part of my MLK Jr. holiday:

Cedar Creek Falls

When I found out that both my hubby and I had no plans for the Monday holiday I had off, I decided that it’d be a great day to try a new hiking trail in the area. Since Southern Cali has gotten a good amount of rain recently (well, for here at least!), I thought it’d be cool to check out a waterfall hike. We decided to head out to the Cedar Creek Falls Trail – a hiking spot located in a town called Ramona about an hour from my house.

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Date Night in Carlsbad {Weekend Recap}

Hi friends!

I hope that you all had a wonderful weekend. My long weekend was a great one, and here were some of its highlights:

Carlsbad beach

I kicked off my weekend with a walk along the beach with my little family. I had planned on getting an at-home workout in afterwards, but wound up not feeling like it at all. Most of the time when I’m feeling this way I just push through an exercise session, but once in a blue moon I just skip it – especially when I’ve worked out every other day that week as was the case on Friday night. 
banana bread

Instead of working out I baked banana bread, read blogs, made white broccoli pizza and watched a movie…..and it was fabulous.

white broccoli pizza

Saturday morning I met up with a few other women for a hike at Torrey Pines State Beach. It was a perfect day weather-wise, and the views aren’t too shabby, as you can see below!

Torrey Pines

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I hadn’t been to Torrey Pines in awhile because it’s a bit of a drive from my house, and more importantly, because the park doesn’t allow dogs. Hiker traffic is heavy, which I usually steer away from on trails, but it’s so gorgeous walking along the coast, so I was glad that I got the chance to spend the morning there.

Torrey Pines-3

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Embracing What is | Monserate Mountain Hike Recap

Hiking is one of my favorite ways to clear my head, enjoy nature and practice mindfulness. I always consider it time well spent as I’m trekking up a mountain, feeling the breeze, and taking in the scenery, and every time I reach the peak, I do so with a grateful heart.John Muir quote


However, just as with everything in life, sometimes hikes don’t go exactly as planned. This was the case last weekend, when I set out to try hiking a new trail: Monserate Mountain in the nearby town of Fallbrook.

Sometimes when hikes don’t go exactly as planned, it’s because I get lost while I’m actually hiking; other times I get lost trying to get to the trail itself. The latter was the case last Saturday.  Monseate Mountain-1

One of the challenges of finding new hikes is figuring out how to actually get there, since I find that addresses to trail heads aren’t specified a lot of the time – especially since I usually find out trail info via hiking forums. Oh, and I have no sense of direction either, so that never works to my advantage.

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Hiking & Camping on Catalina Island

Happy October!

Tomorrow marks 5 years since I married my man. Normally I’m not huge on anniversary celebrations, but since 5 years feels like a milestone, I wanted to commemorate the occasion by doing something memorable and fun together.

Instead of going on a relaxing weekend getaway to wine country or something obviously romantic like most normal couples probably do, us nuts decided to embark on what turned out to be the toughest endurance challenge of my life hiking around Catalina Island. Buckle up for this long weekend recap friends – it was most definitely an adventure with a roller coaster of emotions!
Catalina harbor

Catalina is a gorgeous little island off the coast of SoCal that has this sort of Mediterranean vibe to it. I visited there for the first time earlier this year with my mom for just a day trip, and wanted to go back with A to show him this cool place.

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Returning to My Favorite Farmers’ Market: Little Italy Mercato

Hi there!

Hope that you had a great weekend. I was more than ready for the weekend on Friday, and I kicked off my 2 days off with a hike at my favorite trail area with my hubby and this maniac…

Harley hiking 9.19

We hiked for a bit under 2 hours, and it felt so nice to be out in nature after a long week!

Yoga pose 9.19

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My New Favorite Hiking Spot: Elfin Forest

Meet my new favorite place to go hiking:Elfin Forest-20

When I moved back to San Diego County a few months ago, it was funny because although I was back in a general area that I had lived in before, I’m 45 minutes north from where I had lived prior. It has been like learning the ins and outs of a whole new place, although the area is familiar. Elfin Forest-4

One of the first things I started searching for in my new area was new favorite hiking spots. After all, hiking is one of my favorite things to do. It’s not only a way that I get exercise and exercise my dog, it’s also a meditative practice for me. It’s a way that I process things and clear my head. Often, I start off a hike with a dilemma or just something that I’m contemplating, and by the time I get back in my car, I’ve resolved it.

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Escondido’s Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve has become one of the areas that I frequently hike around, and it’s no doubt my favorite spot that I’ve found nearby thus far. I’ve gone with my hubby and brought my cousin hiking there once as well, but usually it’s just Harley girl and me hitting the trails.

Elfin Forest hiking

Harley’s a pretty hilarious hiker. She gets super excited with every man, woman, child, and animal she sees. She runs around like a maniac. Sometimes she lays down in the shade to cool off for a second whenever she possibly can, but most often she’s a ball of energy. Seen below, she’s climbing up rocks to get to a piece of pizza crust that someone left behind.

Side note: Who eats pizza while they’re hiking?  

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It has become a ritual for hiking to be my workout of the day on mostly every Friday afternoon/evening. I find it to be a great way to kick off the weekend on a healthy and relaxing note.

Elfin Forest-2

The Elfin Forest Reserve is operated by a municipal water district, because the area has a huge dam and reservoir that services residents in the area, holding 8 BILLION gallons of water. The reservoir is no joke right?

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Elfin Forest has lots of different hikes to choose from, but to get to any of them, you first hike up the Way Up Trail (about 1.5 miles of hiking). After you get to the height of that and are in sight of the dam, there are a bunch of different ways that you can hike. Some of them are short trails that link up to other short trails, and others are longer ones. For instance, there’s an Equine Incline Loop Trail that’s 2.6 miles around. I honestly don’t pay too much attention to the signs, and usually just hike around in whatever direction I feel like, or whichever way Harley ventures to if she’s running around in front of me.

Elfin Forest-12

Speaking of Harley running around loose, the park allows dogs off the leash during the week once you get up towards the top of the Way Up Trail….

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Whether Harley is under “effective voice control” as specified is quite debatable – she’s more under selective hearing voice control – but I always let her off the leash to run free. She’s pretty good with staying close to me without me saying much at all, unless there’s another dog, in which case she totally disregards me and does what she wants. What can I say, she has a mind of her own!

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In all honesty, if we’re hiking somewhere and there aren’t a lot of people around, I let Harley off her leash regardless if it’s allowed or not, but it’s nice that the park officially gives your permission to do so. She’s a curious, energetic pup – she likes to run, then stop, then explore and sniff, then lay down for a sec, then turn around and see how close I am, then sprint again – and it’s a lot easier to hike without having her on a leash.

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The park has a bunch of picnic areas and overlook spots, which I’m a fan of. It gives us space to take a water break and chill out for a moment while taking in the scenery.

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The other night Harley and I went for an evening hike. The weather was perfect, there were only a handful of people on the trails, and the atmosphere was just so calm.

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Because I was enjoying myself so much, we hiked a little longer than planned. When we were about 15 minutes from getting back to my car, horns started blaring and the ranger got on a megaphone speaker to warn hikers that the park was about to close and our cars would be towed if not moved in time. We got back just in time to scoot out of there before sunset. So, a word to anyone whose planning on hiking there, make sure that you plan your route accordingly. That would not be fun to come back from a relaxing workout to an empty parking lot wondering where your car went!
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I know that I’ll be visiting Elfin Forest many, many more times. I’ve probably said it a million times, but hiking is definitely my favorite outdoor workout!

What’s your favorite way to get exercise outdoors? 

PS – Harley usually refuses to look at my phone when I try to take a picture, so my hiking puppy selfies usually turn out like this…. 🙂
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