I am no stranger to meeting blog friends “in real life”. I’m also no stranger to camping with people I met from the internet (Cal and Amy on two different trips). So let me just say that pulling up to the trailhead parking lot and leaning out of the driver’s side window to yell, “Hi! I think I’m hiking with you? I think we’re friends??” wasn’t the silliest thing I’ve done since I started Campfire Chic.
A little backstory: There is a group of Southern California hiking/adventure/outdoors bloggers who like to meet up at least once a year and go hiking. I missed the hike in San Diego and I got sick the morning it was super close to me, so I made sure I was going to make it for the first camping trip! I joined the ridiculously long string of emails and booked the campsite when we couldn’t decide where to go. At one point there was the potential of upwards of 40 people (hikers + guest) to the event but when it came down to it, 9 of us made it out to the event.
We were a mighty group, and it was a good size for our first time meeting like that as a group.
SoCal Hiker Tweetup – The Hike!
We met around 9:30 at the trailhead for the Los Pinos peak. It is just north of the Falcon Group Campground with plenty of parking in a dirt lot. Many people continue up the dirt fire road if the gate is open (please be careful if you decide to do this, this is a multi-use trail so you will see mountain bikers, hikers, runners, large SUVs, and other off-road type vehicles on this trail) and there is another flat dirt area where you can park and hike to the peak.
I have to admit: I was super nervous about hiking with this group. I haven’t been very active lately (except traipsing around Austin – that was a big workout for me!) so I was half-expecting to not even make it to the peak. Everybody was really great about making a few stops so we could regroup (never too far from one another, amazingly!) and nobody was being “that guy” who wanted to keep pushing and rushing people.
After waiting for a BIG group to be done with the summit, we got to the top and took in the views. It’s pretty fantastic at the top! The area is surprisingly green for having nearly zero rain this season and you can see both sides of the range. We took plenty of photos, found a strange toy in the summit registry, and headed back to the trailhead as the weather started to cool down. We finished our hike around 1:30 p.m. (a total of 3.5 hours of enjoyable hiking and eating our lunches) – total mileage was just over 5.5 miles roundtrip for half of us, the other half may be closer to 5.8 miles after they bagged a second peak on our way down.
That time I camped with strangers from the internet.
The second part of the SoCal Hiking Tweetup was a campout – we stayed overnight at the Falcon Group Campground in Cleveland National Forest, which is close to the trailhead of our morning hike.
If you are looking for a campground to fit up to 70 people and a handful of cars somewhere between San Diego and the outer reaches of Los Angeles, this is a pretty decent spot. The campground is located just south of Lake Elsinore tucked away in the mountains so there is plenty of oak trees and other vegetation not necessarily associated with anywhere off of the 91 freeway (if you’re local, you’ll probably read that as: desert-ish).
Our campsite had two vault toilets next to our parking spots, plenty of trash cans, 5 picnic tables, three charcoal barbecues, and a 60-inch fire ring. There was plenty of room for us to spread out our tents and Jeff set up a hammock for people to enjoy. Alyx is my kind of blogger – she had props in her trunk “just in case” and we tried to hang up a giant California flag but neither of us are engineers, it seems.
Alex and I are still perfecting what goes into our “car camping” bin in our storage unit – what’s funny is that we use so much of our things on a regular basis that I’m thinking we need to bite the bullet and buy duplicates (like packs of cards) so we don’t have to rifle through multiple bins/our closet/junk drawer/my purse for things we’ll need for our trips.
Hikers/Adventurers involved with this weekend:
- Jeff and Joan of SoCalHiker.net (you can use this handy section of Jeff’s site to find Hikes in Southern California)
- Josh of California Through my Lens (His trail write-up and information on a sexy bikini panda can be found here)
- Pete of East West Hike (who wins for posting about the event first in Part 1 and Part 2)
- Alyx of Shoestring Adventures
- Eileen of RockGrrl.com
- Zac of OPAdventure Team
I want to thank Fabletics*, KEEN Footwear, SKINourishment*, and Flow 397 for sending goodies for the event. Fabeltics sent headbands and waterbottles, KEEN sent socks and free shoe cards for a giveaway, SKINourishment sent stickers/Cross-Fixe/Climb On, and Flow 397 sent some great stickers. In addition, OPAdventureTeam supplied items and Teton Sports requested sleeping bag reviews from a few participants. Thank you for your continued support to bloggers and adventure-seekers.
*I am an affiliate for SKINourishment and a Fabletics Master – I will receive compensation for any sales made through these links.