The Hollywood Vine

Pacific Crest Trail Kicks

I’ve been talking a lot of trail lately. Namely the ups and downs but not enough about the awesome gear and fashion I’ve had the pleasure of seeing on my journey from Mexico to Canada. When it comes to hiking, functional fashion is key, especially when it comes down to the shoes. Here’s what’s up with trail kicks this year on the PCT:

Altra Lone Peaks

These trail runners are by far the most popular hiking shoe of choice I’ve seen. Made for runners with a zero drop design, backpackers have found that the cushion and lack of heel lift really propels them to the next level. Not to mention they are pretty snazzy! Best part is, Altra has tons of styles available from waterproof to high top, there’s something for everyone.

Nike Wild Horse

I personally love these trail runners and so do many hikers, I’ve noticed. Nike is a trusted brand so they deserve a try, especially with that solid rock plate feature that protects the balls of your feet. Again, size and color are abundant for men and women in this style and I haven’t heard any complaints so far!

Adidas Trail Runners

While I haven’t seen a ton of people sporting them, I have first hand experience with 400-500 miles on each pair I’ve owned! I usually find them on Amazon and would trust all styles from trail runners to hiking boots. Adidas doesn’t get enough love in the thru hiking category so here I am giving them my trail tested praise! At least pick up a pair just for fun, you won’t be disappointed and neither will your wardrobe!

Hoka One One

Big fan of the look of these, though I haven’t tried them myself. I do have to say I met a hiker about 300 miles in who’s beaten down pair looked brand new! Again, great colorways in all styles and really worth a run, or ultra run if that’s what you’re into.

Los Angeles Getaway: Wrightwood

If you’re looking for a closeby getaway in the mountains, look no further than the San Gabriels! Wrightwood is just a short scenic drive up CA Route 2 from Los Angeles, complete with mountain town charm!

I found that this town was extremely friendly to PCT hikers on my way through. I would guess the same goes for out of town visitors who choose to nestle themselves in one of the rustic AirBNB cottages available.

Recommendations for food and drink include the Grizzly Cafe, Wrightwood Brewing Co and Evergreen Cafe. The Village Grind & Wine Cellar is also an interesting spot, coffee shop by day and live jazz filled wine bar by night!

The best part about Wrightwood is it’s prime location in the Angeles National Forest. In just minutes you can find yourself traipsing among granite boulders and some of Southern California’s tallest peaks! If you’re lucky, you may even be treated to views of Catalina Island and Downtown Los Angeles.

If I were you, I’d pack up a pair of Minnetonka Moccasins for sitting by the fire, and Nikes for the mountains. Pick up s’mores materials and prepare for some mountain air relaxation just miles from lovely LA! Enjoy!

Week Four on the Pacific Crest Trail

The past week has been a fantastic daze of places I fondly remember in my hiking history. It has been a delight to hike along trails and destinations I’ve visited in the past. This National Scenic Trail has taken me to heights I’ve I’ve never been and brought me back to those that I love.

I have already met dozens of people in just 300 miles. Not to mention how short each mile feels as we hike further and further from Mexico. Each night under a brilliant Southern California sunset we lay amazed at ourselves and the world around us that just continues to unfold every day.

In terms of gear, everything down to our Adidas trail runners seems to be holding up well. Aside from a few necessary Amazon orders, we haven’t changed much about our thru-hiking setup. The weight in my Gossamer Gear pack seems lighter every day!

Speaking of, I now share a special connection with my Mariposa pack, besides all the places we’ve gone together. I was finally given a trail name, which is a true honor. You can now call me Butterfly! FYI Trail names are a great treat for all hikers and an easy way to identify each other instead of remembering real names.

All in all, just over a tenth of the way in to a couple thousand mile hike, I can honestly say this is what I’m meant to be doing right now. Every night as I pass out exhausted in our Big Agnes tent under my Enlightened Equipment quilt, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be than on the PCT.

Los Angeles Getaway: Big Bear

Some may only know Big Bear for the snow sports in such close proximity to Los Angeles. However, if you swing up the mountain after the snow melts you’ll see it truly is a four season getaway! The area offers great options in terms of outdoor activities, accommodations and cuisines all in one small stretch. Not to mention the drive in is an absolute joy! Since it’s summertime, I’ll give a little insight into what’s up in Big Bear Lake when the sun is shining and the living is easy.

Hiking around Big Bear Lake can be done at all difficulty levels and lengths of trail. A couple trails I would suggest that boast lake views include Cougar Crest Trail, complete with viewing benches, and the new Skyline Trail. Best part is, I think the Skyline Trail is mountain bike friendly too! Campgrounds are aplenty as well if that’s something you’re into.

If a warm bed and fireplace is more your getaway style, the Bear has plenty of lodges and hotels to choose from. Personally I’ve AirBNB‘d a few cozy cabins and stayed at the PCT hiker friendly Snow Bear Lodge (they have a pool!). As always I suggest reading reviews on Yelp or something similar before you book!

When it comes to food, it’s surprising how much is available in this small but bustling mountain town. Big Bear Village has favorites like the local bar, Murray’s, offering karaoke and some pretty damn good food! Another awesome find my last time up while hiking the PCT was Masala Craft. Indian food is always a treat especially 8k feet up in Southern California Mountains.

All in all, Big Bear Lake and the neighboring mountain areas are a must visit any time of year. Breathtaking views, hiking, biking and outdoor activities are paired with quaint mountain town charm up there in the San Bernardino Mountains. Enjoy!

Week Three on the Pacific Crest Trail

Since I have been resting a twisted ankle at Big Bear Lake, I figured I would go over what I’ve experienced in the last few weeks.

By now I think I’ve swatted at least a thousand flies, witnessed dozens of scurrying lizards and enjoyed every single sunset and sunrise. I have probably taken my Gossamer Gear pack on and off a minimum of 15 times a day. We have visited three post offices in Southern California and stopped in three towns.

So far, we haven’t consumed that much Ramen, but it’s on my list to increase my noodle intake. Fortunately, we have probably enjoyed around 30 Honey Stingers, which is a necessity. True to our camping nature, we’ve consumed about two dozen eggs when in town. Gotta get that protein!

I lost count of the amount of water I’ve filtered and drank, as well as the number of creeks and faucets we’ve utilized. What I haven’t lost memories of is the beauty of the Pacific Crest Trail and all the precious water crossing it.

We have made local and international friends with every human and dog we pass, and enjoyed a handful of campfires with one another. The one thing I know is, I’m on the right path. Stay tuned!

Pacific Crest Tunes

As you know, all I’ve been doing lately is hiking along the Pacific Crest Trail.  One thing besides food and water that’s getting me by is the access to all this awesome music.  Here’s what I’ve been listening to on the trail:

Little Dragon

I have a special place in my heart for Little Dragon’s mood music. Especially on a trail where besides walking, most of what we’re doing is chilling out. LD is a great addition to wilderness chill zone extremes, or when you want to jazz up your life just a touch. Check out their fifth full length album, Season High for a taste of this bands success in creating some chill af music.

Gorillaz

You can’t deny yourself a new album by a band like Gorillaz. As soon as their latest, Humanz, was released it was on my Google Play queue. It has been seven years since their last release, and this album is chock full of collaborations. I’m sure they weren’t hard pressed for contributors, who wouldn’t want to collab with such creative genius?

Nick Murphy

Fka Chet Faker blessed us with some tunes just in time for my hike! I’m pretty obsessed with this guy and the new tracks have me pretty impressed too! This dude is definitely evolving as an artist and it is a pleasure to watch. Much respect for going back to your roots and using your real name, Nick!

Golden Features

When looking for new tunes, I chose a Flume radio station with lots of hope. My wish was granted when Golden Features came on, and I was hooked. Maybe I’m just really into Australian artists, or maybe I have great taste in music. Either way, this guy’s electronic beats get me up the trail to Canada, what more do I need?

Check any of these artists out on your next hike and you’ll see what I mean. Enjoy!

Pacific Crest Trail, Week 2

As the herd travels along Southern California, I find myself honored to meet fellow thru hikers along the trail. We have already traveled 150+ miles across the desert into the San Jacinto Mountains and we hike on.

Week 2 has been a dramatic improvement in terms of the aches and pains of hiking. Big miles meant it was time to take it easy, so we spent some time at our first resupply town hanging out with our built in friends at the Warner Springs Community Center. The evening and next day found us back on trail along Agua Caliente Creek resting up for the next climb.

It seems as it got hotter the water sources were farther and fewer between. Luckily our Sawyer Squeeze comes in handy every time there’s a chance to fill up. So far we haven’t had any horrible stretches, and we are eternally grateful for the water caches along the way.


From Warner Springs to Paradise Valley Cafe, we traverse what seems to be endless hot, dry canyons. Along the way, we are finally and formally introduced Unicorn Princess and Shade Baby, two strangers who met in Mt. Laguna. I’ve never hiked with so much vigor after avoiding a dead mouse in the water and booking a room at the Silver Pines Lodge in Idyllwild!

After a domesticated evening showering, eating out and sleeping in a bed, we decide to take a Zero the next day. That means, no hiking! Finding camp in San Jacinto State Park, the evening brings a campfire and generous dinner from another thru hiker, Navigator.

As of writing this among the San Jacinto Mountains, I feel no pain of the past 150 miles! We will reach the desert floor soon and again ascend, but this time into Big Bear! Send pizza!

Los Angeles Getaway: Idyllwild

Tucked into the tall pines of the San Jacinto Wilderness is a little mountain town called Idyllwild.  Formerly known as Strawberry Valley for all the strawberries growing along Strawberry Creek, this town is a hidden gem.

Just a few hours from Los Angeles and you’ll find hiking, biking, climbing or a simple, quiet respite from the city life.  When you look into the history of this area, you realize it’s a must visit in your back yard.

 

Architect Frank Gehry designed and built his first private residence here while well known hippie and influencer Timothy Leary later set up camp in a nearby valley.  Idyllwild was also the birthplace of the first bluegrass festival in Southern California as well as the Bear Flag festival, marking the passing of the grizzly from the state.

When you visit, make sure to get a little cabin on the mountainside.  I loved staying at the Silver Pines, they were beyond accommodating!

If during the summer, chat up a PCT hiker (like me!).  Enjoy some craft brews at the Brew Pub as well as any cuisine you’re looking for in the small town center.

Remember, this is a four season town.  Any time you visit, a different experience will ensue!  But beware of the first bear they’ve seen in years, he’s a cinnamon!  And while you’re up there, bag one of the tallest and most prominent peaks in SoCal, San Jacinto!

If anything, simply enjoy!

Vallerie on the PCT!

On May 16, 2017, I started the Pacific Crest Trail. I’ve been talking about it for a while now and it is finally here!

Fun Fact: On the same day in 1975, Junko Tabei became the first woman to summit Mount Everest! Girl power! Now onto the nitty gritty.

Week 1

The hike started out cold, rainy and foggy. The first day seemed to go on forever, meandering up from the border through desert shrubs. I look back thankful for the cloudy day, since the heat has been increasing daily.

However, every step gets us closer to our carefully planned resupply box in Warner Springs! You see, I’m hiking with my partner and we bought most of our food in advance. Dietary and budget restrictions lead us to this decision and we’re pretty excited to stock up.

Now, at Mile 91 and hovering around the same Fahrenheit, less than 24 hours to our first town, I am humbled by the trail. I have been treated to views of Southern California I didn’t know existed. From Mount Laguna to Anza Borrego, we are in the desert and pushing on.

Special thanks to my amazing Gossamer Gear Mariposa, Adidas Trail Runners and Darn Tough socks for helping keep my most important shit together! Stay tuned for more.

Feast on my Favorite Food in LA

Recently I departed the lovely city of Los Angeles on an adventure from Mexico to Canada on the Pacific Crest Trail. With the possibility of limited food choices in my future, I reflect on the greatest grub I know in LA.

Lucifers

This spicy pizza comes straight from hell and it is damned good. A plethora of choices can easily be doused in their hot oil for a fiery feast. Best part is, locations in both Los Feliz and on Melrose whenever you need a fix.

Little Beast

Tucked away in Eagle Rock, this was one of those places that I always wanted to go to but it was never the right time. Finally I was able to get a table during happy hour and taste the seasonal culinary genius. Let’s just say they made me love fennel in a salad.

Las Molcajetes

I may be biased as I used to live around the corner from this pupusa wonder but it’s worth the trip. Handmade to order, with empanadas on the side? Pass the chips and salsa, please!

Evo Kitchen

This was one of my first eats in LA. Invited for a business meeting and returning for pleasure ever since. I love the gluten free pizza options and plentiful booze. However, the avocado salad is their best kept secret, until now!

Treat yo self to one of these epic grubberies and enjoy!