Love of Hiking

My love of hiking springs from early childhood in Arizona where I hiked with my brothers near Camelback Mountain in Phoenix and later in the wilderness outside Wickenburg. Hiking opportunities were few while I was in college, but the latent interest never went away. After moving to Orange County, California, in 1972 I bought a pair of boots, found a hiking buddy, and climbed Santiago Peak (Saddleback) a couple times. Then those boots were pushed to the back of the closet while I raised a family and pursued a career. After retiring in 2002 I got yet another pair of boots and again began exploring the hills of Orange County, with the goals of returning to Santiago Peak, and maybe Mt San Antonio (Old Baldy). I started with the Sierra Club but the big breakthrough came when I discovered the Orange County Hiking Club and the Hiking OC Club at www.meetup.com  in 2010. Since then I’ve been hiking twice per week locally and going on adventures at more distant venues once or twice per year.  I am now an Organizer with OCHC, leading one hike per week, and another hike with another club or hiking buddies. All of my early goals have been reached, and in addition I’ve backpacked in the Grand Canyon and Hiked the John Muir and Mist Trails Yosemite. Some of these hikes are described below.

Where’s Ed Hiking?

Click here to see where I’m hiking today!

Local Hikes

Sitton Peak (10/14/2014)

JR, Kathy,  Ed, and our frind from Scotland Derek hiked to Sitton peak October 14, 2014. The trailhead is about 100 feet or so before  the Candy Store as you travel east on the Ortega Highway. There is a Cleveland National Forest parking lot (National Forest Adventure Pass or Golden Age Passport required) across the highway from the Candy Store. Crossing the highway is dangerous, especially in the weekday morning traffic.

The hike is about 10 miles with 2100 feet total ascent. It took us 5 1/2 hours total. This is a tough hike, especially the last part up tot he peak itself. It’s quite steep with loose gravel on hard rock, making it all too easy to slip. Ask me how I know! But views are great and you’re hiking in near wilderness. The day we hiked we saw no one else, going in or coming out.

Click here for photos 

Click here for GPS track

Live Oak Trail (5/2/2014)

Live Oak Trail is in O’Neill Regional Park, paralleling  Live Oak Canyon Rd., in south Orange County. For this hike we join the trail at its north end at a small residential neighborhood off of El Toro Rd. just north of Glenn Ranch Rd. From there the trail heads off to the east at a gentle incline. The first point of interest is Vista Point shortly after reaching the ridge. The view offers perhaps the best view of south Orange County short of Santiago which looms in the east. On a clear day you can see Catalina Island to the west. Sighting tubes point you to other landmarks.

After taking in the view we retreat from Vista Point and continue on Live Oak, which soon comes to a fork . Here Coyote Canyon Trail drops off to the east while Live Oak continues south for a bit time on the ridge. Either will lead to our destination, the main entrance to O’Neill still about 2.5 miles away.  If it’s going to be a warm day we opt for continuing on Live Oak so we can return on the more shady Coyote. The whole hike is about 6.4 miles with about 1300 feet total ascent. Takes about 3 hours including our rest at Vista Point and lunch at a shady picnic table near the park entrance.

Garmin Track: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/492144213

Photo album: http://efsowell.us/Photo%20Albums/Live%20Oak%20Trail/

O’Neill Regional Park webpage: http://ocparks.com/parks/oneill/


Wood Canyon/Car Wreck (4/29/2014)

This is a 7.5 mile, tough hike in Wood Canyon/Aliso Canyon Regional Park, Orange County, CA. We started at the Top of the World, aka Alta Laguna Park, accessed from PCH in Laguna Beach. We took the broad, mostly descending West Ridge Trail north, then took Cholla down to the Woods Canyon Trail. A long hike along the flat canyon floor brought us to a turn-off to the west to Dripping Cave. After resting at the then NOT Dripping Cave (this was late April of a dry year), we continued on the same trail to where it joined Mathis. After a very short segment of Mathis the infamous Car Wreck Trail forks off to the left. According to the Park map it’s Oak Grove Trail at first, apparently till you get to the wreckage of what looks to be a ’50 Ford coupe. Pretty hard to see how it got there as the closest roadway is the West Ridge Trail far to the west. One day I’ll get the history of it. After passing the wreckage the trail becomes rough and steep… somewhat of a rock scramble. Eventually we were back on the West Ridge which we followed back to the cars. It took us about 3 hours including breaks.

Photos: http://efsowell.us/Photo%20Albums/Car%20Wreck/

Garmin track: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/490398665

Park map: http://ocparks.com/civicax/filebank/blobdload.aspx?BlobID=21141


Whiting Ranch (most recently 4/18/2014)

I host this hike or a variation about once per month with the Orange County Hiking Club at www.meetup.com . If you are a member (joining is free) you can see it at the link below. We meet up in the commercial center at the corner of Portola Parkway and Glenn Ranch Road in south Orange County, CA.  We leave the parking lot and follow the path under Portola to the Whiting Ranch Park entrance. We then follow the broad Serrano Rd to where Dreaded Hill Trail splits off,  taking the Dreaded Hill Trail (left),  regrouping at Four Corners. From there we follow Mustard Trail to  Billy Goat. After regrouping again at Four Corners  we take Cactus, Santiago Ranch, Sleepy Hollow, and Serrano Cow Trail to Serrano Rd, taking us back to the cars. The hike takes approximately 2 1/2 hours and covers roughly 7 miles, with total ascent of about 1300 feet. Since we hike as a group, the actual time varies depending on the group. After our hike we reward ourselves with good conversation and a cup of coffee/tea at Starbucks at the meetup point. Variations include the addition of Red Rock Canyon, adding about 1 1/2 miles. With this variation we sometimes do the loop through Four Corners in reverse, so that we go down Dreaded Hill rather than up.

Meetup.com link: http://www.meetup.com/OC-HIKING-com/events/176848102/

Photos: http://efsowell.us/Photo%20Albums/Whiting%20Ranch/

Garmin Track: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/482950175

Peters Canyon

Peters Canyon, at the juncture of Orange, Tustin, & Santa Ana, is easily accessible to  the major  population centers of north Orange County, which probably accounts for it being the most popular local hiking venue. It’s a narrow County Park about 3 miles long immediately west of Jamboree, a couple miles south of Chapman. The trails allow a wide range of hikes. Since December 2011 I’ve been hosting a hike here called “Pete’s & Peets” on Friday mornings, succeeding  Organizer Karin W who started it. I still do the hike, but now only once per month. We meet up at the south entrance on Peters Canyon Rd. at Silverado Terrace, Tustin, CA. This hike is 7 miles with a total ascent of about 1200 feet, covered with a moving average speed of about 3 miles per hour, making it an Intermediate level hike.

Afterwards, those who have time go to a nearby Peets for coffee and conversation.

Meetup.com link to a recent hike: http://www.meetup.com/OC-HIKING-com/events/199903432/

Photos: http://efsowell.us/Photo%20Albums/PetersCanyon/index.html

Garmin track: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/628799458


More Ambitious Hikes & Adventures

Havasupai 10/24/2014-10/27/2014

JR, Kathy, Jon & Ed hiked into the Grand Canyon on October 24, 2014 for a 4 day/3 night stay at the Lodge in Supai, AZ, the capital of the Havasupai Tribe Reservation. We did day hikes downstream  to Navaho, Havasu, Mooney & Beaver Falls, and upstream to Havasu Springs.

We left Orange County, CA at 7:00AM on 10/24 and took the I-15 to Barstow,  the I-40 to Kingman, then Route 66 to Peach Springs where we stayed at the Hualapai Lodge. Seven miles east of the Hualapai Lodge is the turn-off onto Indian Highway 18, which in 66 miles took us to the trailhead at Hualapai Hilltop. Here’s the link to a BTW, Hualapai Hilltop isn’t on MapQuest or most in-car navigators and it’s hard to find a good estimate of time to drive from Peach Springs to the trailhead. For the record, it took us about 1 hour and 20 minutes to get from the Hualapai Lodge to Hualapai Hilltop. We checked or duffels with the Havasupai lady at the pack-animal shed and headed down the Hualapai Trail at at 9:10AM. Four hours and 40 minutes later we were in Supai. We registered and checked in at the Lodge and our duffels arrived not long afterward.

The second day we did the marathon 4-fall hike: Navaho, Havasu, Mooney & Beaver. We left Supai at about 9AM and got back at about 5PM and we were moving most of the time. The toughest part is down and up the cliff at Mooney, but the frequent creek crossings and other difficult passages make the Mooney to Beaver a significant challenge too. The third day was more relaxed, saving our energy for the hike out the following day. After breakfast JR & Ed did an exploration of Havasu Creek upstream from Supai to it’s source, Havasu Springs. We all met up for swimming at Navaho in the afternoon. All told, we hiked about 30 miles in our 4-day stay.

Pleas click on the Photo album below for a more complete description of our adventure. It’s broken into several sub-albums so you can see what you’re interested in if you don’t have time to view the whole thing. Also, all sub-albums and photos have captions so you know what you’re looking at.

Photos of our hike  Click here 

More information and links of possible interest:

Distances which may be of interest if you’re planning to go:
Hualapai Hilltop to Supai……………..8 miles / 13 kilometers
Supai to Navaho Falls 1.5 miles / 2.5 kilometers
Supai to campground………………….2 miles / 3 kilometers
Hualapai Hilltop to campground….10 miles / 16 kilometers
Campground to Mooney Falls…….0.5 miles / 0.8 kilometers
Moony Falls to Beaver………………… 3 Miles/4.8 kilometers
Mooney Falls to Colorado River……..8 miles / 13 kilometers


We planned to eat most of our meals in the Tribal Café, but we brought trail snacks and some freeze dried breakfasts and dinners in case the café wasn’t open. Turned out we ate only a couple meals in the Café. It was was pretty good though. One night we had Supai burgers and Supai tacos at the Sinyella Market hand-out window. What makes them “Supai” is fry-bread is used instead of conventional buns and tortillas. Not bad, except the frybread tends to fall apart.

Map of the area: Click here
Havasupai website: Click here

GPS Tracks:
Hilltop to Supai
Supai to Mooney Falls
Supai to Havasu Springs
Supai to Navaho Falls
Supai to Hilltop

Mt San Jacinto 4/14/2014

Starting at the Upper Tram terminal we hiked west  past the ranger station, Long Valley and Round Valley to Wellman’s Divide, then north past Jean’s Peak, and Miller Peak. This was all good trail but with snow patches that increased with altitude. The final approach to San Jacinto Peak was 0.3 miles north, with the last portion being more  boulder scramble than hike. We followed approximately the same route back. It was about 11 miles round trip and took about 7 hours including rest breaks.
Photos: http://efsowell.us/Photo%20Albums/Mt%20San%20Jacinto%202014/
Garmin Track: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/481025104

Santiago Peak, February 2014

OC Hiking buddy JR Davis and I were accompanied by Leo Reed, a Brit whom we met in the Grand Canyon, and his son Rob. The hike is almost 15 miles with 3800 feet total ascent. It took us almost 8 hours. Santiago Peak is often called Saddleback, a term which would more appropriately refer to a view of Santiago and nearby Modjeska Peak from some parts of Orange County.
Photos: http://efsowell.us/Photo%20Albums/Santiago%20Peak%20February%202014/
Garmin track: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/447728349

Grand Canyon, November 2013

For decades I’d wanted to do the classic South Kaibab/Bright Angel hike. In 2010 I ventured a short distance down the Bright Angel, just far enough to know I wasn’t ready for a hike to the bottom. After a few years of regular hiking I was finally able to do a Canyon hike — Havasupai in May  2012. Then, finally,  I got to do the real thing… all the way to  The River, camping, and the hike out. the whole thing along with four hiking buddies. We arrived a day early so we could drop off our camping gear at the mule barn in the Village and spent the night at Maswik Lodge. On November 15th we caught the first shuttle to the South Kaibab trailhead and started down at about 7:45AM. After a 5 hour hike we arrived on wobbly knees at Bright Angel Campground where we spent 3 nights. Months earlier we had arranged for sack lunches and dinners at nearby Phantom Ranch so our only campground cooking was heating water for coffee and instant oatmeal. The next day we hiked to Ribbon Falls (about 15 miles round trip) and the next day did the much shorter River Trail. The next morning we were up before dawn to break camp and get our gear to the mule barn. After a hearty breakfast at Phantom Ranch we headed up the Bright Angel Trail.
Garmin track, Down South Kaibab: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/407146673
Garmin track, Ribbon Falls: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/484416404
Garmin track, River Trail: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/484424469
Garmin track, Up Bright Angel: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/407123704

Mt Baldy, Ski Hut Trail May 2013

This was an OCHC hike, with 15hikers, organized by John Santy. We parked at Manker Flats and hiked the Ski Hut trail, aka Baldy Bowl or South approach. The trail is about 9 miles round trip with 4200 feet total ascent. The hike up took 5 1/4 hours and we made it down in 3 hours 20 minutes. It’s a tough trail, some say the toughest except for Register. Photos: http://efsowell.us/Photo%20Albums/BaldySkiHut/album/ Garmin track, Ski Hut Up: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/320691326  NOTE: The track was lost at Garmin Connect. However, the stats are correct. Garmin track, Ski Hut down: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/320691344  NOTE: The track was lost at Garmin Connect. However, the stats are correct.


Boots: I’ve been wearing Keen Targas.  At $130 they are not expensive as hiking boots go, but I like them because of the fit on my wide feet. Backpacks: For local summer hikes I prefer the Camelbak Lumbar 2 liter hydration pack. I cooler weather when I may need to stash a coat I prefer my REI Flash 18. It’s very light weight and accommodates a 3 liter hydration bladder. For backpacking I use a the very light weight GoLite Pinnacle. Hydration bladder: In addition to the Camelbak Lumbar 2 liter hydration pack I have a 3 liter Ospry in the REI Flash 18. I tried the Camelbak 3 liter but it tended to leak under the pressure of a tightly stuffed pack. Trekking poles: I love my Leki Malaku Summit antishock poles. They’re still going strong after about 1500 miles. Backpacking gear: When gearing up for a Grand Canyon backpacking trip I went ultralight. My tent is the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 2, and the sleeping bag is an REI 25F. I use a beer-can style alcohol stove. Electronics: Being somewhat of a technology geek, I’m loaded with electronic equipment when I hike. I use a Garmin GPSMap 60CsX to record my hikes and upload them to Garmin Connect. I provide links to the hikes in the descriptions below so you can see exactly where I went and how long it took me to get there. I also often carry a www.FindMeSpot.com Connect tracker with which I can send text and email messages while in the field. It also posts a track of GPS coordinates to a FindMeSpot.com share page.These track points are at longer intervals than the Garmin records, but can be viewed online in real time. The SPOT also provides an as yet unused SOS button in case I get into real trouble. Click here for more info on findmeSPOT.

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