Big Bear equipment shake-down

After the completion of our quilt, we had finished our three-piece ultralight equipment extravaganza, which also included the Tarp and the Net-tent for bugs. These were all designed by Ray and Jenny Jardine, ultralight backpacking and Pacific Crest Trail experts.

Now we had to try out our new gear, but where to go? The possibilities were limitless, with Simon’s new backpacking library full of options (as well as Jess’s book – Day Hikes in Los Angeles).

Quilt Complete

We finished our quilt! This design was another one we purchased from Ray and Jenny Jardine.

Jess did all the measuring, cutting, and hand-basting and quilting, I did all the sewing machine work.

Here’s the run-down of its features:

Musch Trail, Topanga Canyon

With our new handmade tarp complete and our groundsheet softened, we headed out to Topanga Canyon for a day hike and tarp set-up practice!

Tarp and Net-Tent

We got the Tarp and Net-Tent kits from Ray Jardine’s website after reading his book, Trail Life. The kits included the fabric and lines, webbing, patterns and detailed instructions aimed at people who have never sewed before. I was too scared to cut the fabric, fearing that I would make a mistake and ruin everything, so Jess laid the huge pieces of fabric out in the hallway and cut them up, much to the amusement of our neighbors. The instructions were very clear, and I was able to sew them together. This experience really changed my perspective.

Hiking La Jolla Valley Trail

Another week since we were on the trail and we needed to get back out. Simon selected the La Jolla Valley Trail from my Day Hikes in Los Angeles book. This trail was of interest because just two miles in is a camp. We wanted to pretend that we were backpacking and hike in to a camp to see what it was like.  This trail is situated in the Point Mugu State Park in Ventura County.

Hiking the Backbone Trail, Malibu

Only one week after returning home to Marina del Rey from our successful trip to Mammoth we were starved for more trail. So we turned to my book, Day Hikes in Los Angeles, for some local inspiration. We decided to make a jaunt up the Pacific Coast Hwy to a Trail in Malibu Canyon called “The Backbone Trail”. This trail winds through Malibu Canyon, joining up with Topanga Canyon and ends somewhere near Will Rogers State Beach which is many miles south. However we didn’t have such lofty goals! It was just our intention to go out for a lunch/day hike and see how far we got; we just simply missed being out on a trail.

Hiking in Mammoth

My parents invited my sister’s family and us to all stay in a condo together in the Mammoth Lakes town.  Simon and I were both thrilled and frightened at the prospect of bringing Gabriel (who would be just 13 months old) to this amazing place.

Catalina cruise

It was a beautiful day, the hopes were high … off we were on our adventure to Catalina Island on our trusty 28-foot sailboat, Island Side (courtesy of Fairwind Yacht Club)! The first of many cruises, anticipation had been growing among the crew for weeks as we waited for the perfect weather window. And now we had it! The forecast was for sun, low 70’s, 10 knots from the northwest. The only downside in the weather forecast was the 5-7 foot swell coming from the west – beam seas on our nearly due south journey.

“Boat speed is zero”

We went out for a quick sail today so Jess could have a shot at the helm. All in all it was very fun. There were moments of joy and many moments of whining and crying. One highlight was Jess’s hat blowing overboard and me busting out the MOB move to get it back. But the best highlight is captured on this video:

Redondo Marina lunch cruise

We wanted to try to actually ‘go somewhere’ on the boat, and decided that King Harbor, or more specifically Redondo Beach Marina would be a good place to start.


I’d just been checked out on Fairwind’s Catalina 28, Island Side, and I was keen to share her with my family. So we planned for a quick daysail out to Santa Monica and back to see how Gabriel would react to his new PFD and the larger boat.

Topanga Canyon Hike

This was Gabriel’s first official hike! Donned with a baby hiking backpack “Tatonka” (that was thoughtfully given to us by Nanna Pam), hats, a bagged lunch and some water, we were hitting the trail for the first time. Gabriel was just under eight months old and we weren’t sure what to expect on this outing.

Here we go!

We arrived at Topanga State Park in the late morning. Gabriel had a short nap in the car and woke upon our arrival. We plunked him into Tatonka and trekked up the main path. We were rather giddy at the prospect of a successful hike because we knew if it was a success then we could start hiking again just like we did during our pre-baby days.

Up on Daddy’s back

The temperature was cool and fresh and the canyon was beautiful in the late morning sun. Gabriel was calm and relaxed in the Tatonka, sitting high up on Daddy’s back, and seemed to really enjoy himself looking around at the nature and other hikers. We were so stoked and wondered how far we should hike in; after all we didn’t want to press our luck.

After about 45 minutes of steady hiking Gabriel started to get a bit ansy and started grumbling at us a bit so we decided it was time to take a “boob-break” and then turn around.

Lunch of mashed avocado

Back in the Tatonka, we serenaded Gabriel by singing his favorite song at the time, “Doe a deer”, over and over and over again which seemed to do the trick and we made it back to the picnic area just in time for a lovely picnic lunch.

After lunch we walked Gabriel around the grove of trees enjoying the success of our morning before piling back in the car to drive home.

For us this experience was monumental because despite the big hopes and dreams we have for our family, we are pretty timid parents and it had taken us a long time to work up to this type of outing. Infact it took us a couple of months after Gabriel was born to just take him for a walk around the block in the stroller! So the success of this outing was a comfirmation in faith: so long as  we take our baby steps forward we will achieve the dreams in the end. And what good times we will encounter along the way!

Exploring with Mommy