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The Pines // #farisonsinthewild

Take a moment with me to celebrate my first blog post about a recent outdoor trip! Yay! 

Here is a little background on our outdoor adventures:

Andrew & I didn't initially have a huge interest in backpacking. My first real big hike was night hiking Mt. Baden-Powell with Andrew, which was the hike he popped THE question to me. (Read more about that here.) From there, we slowly started hiking little trails around the Angeles National Forest. We got packs in Christmas 2014 and since then have tried to backpack when we can. Which hasn't been very often. As you will learn through this post, we have a lot to learn.

Recently, we had something happen that rarely happens when working in the retail world: we had 2 days off together! It was our first 2 days off together since our 1-year anniversary trip... which was about 2 months ago. Haha. 

Naturally we decided to take the opportunity to go backpacking. Actually I will be honest for a second. Part of me really did not want to do something involving sweat & steep inclines. But we rarely get days off in a row together, so I decided I'd be willing to suck it up & go out in the wilderness. 

For most of our trips/dates lately, we have been using tip $$$ I get at work. So be encouraged fellow tippers, that it allows us, working on minimum wage, to afford milk when we run out & occasionally to do fun things. 

With what tips we had, we decided our trip needed to be local and settled on a hike in the Sespe Wilderness. This was our first time ever going to Ojai and hiking in more shrubbish/bushy terrain. Because of the terrain and lack of many shady trees we didn't think twice about needing a bear canister (which we don't have yet). 

Our mission: to reach Chief Peak, which is around 7 miles one way.

We started our trek around 11:30 A.M. Which was the most ridiculous idea we ever had. It was already 85 degrees in Ojai, and without realizing the majority of the trail is not shaded. I think we were so used to hiking during the winter, that we forgot what it means to hike during the hottest part of the day.

Barely a mile in, we stopped to take a breather. I turned around to check out the views behind us only to spot a very weird looking thing lumbering up the trail. The next thing I know, my mind made sense of what I was looking at, IT. WAS. A. BEAR. Not just a tiny bear, a massive black bear. So you can imagine my surprise, considering I just mentioned our thoughts that there were no bears in Ojai's bushy hills. I was filled with incredible terror & yet tried to remind myself it was okay and to remain dominant and in control (things I learned after owning a boxer mix).
We made some noise to let the bear know we were only several hundred feet from it. And then kept walking up the trail... which now thinking about it, we should have probably made sure he heard us and didn't intend on investigating us any further. From that moment on, I was pretty freaked for a while. I kept thinking of Timothy Treadwell and his fate with a grizzly. Granted, what we saw was a black bear and not a grizzly, but my imagination runs wild sometimes. 

We continued onward and met a few friendly hikers on their way back down from the creek. Soon the heat started tearing us apart. I was still freaking out about the size of the bear, the fact that we had no bear canister, and getting mad that I talked myself into backpacking. The sun was relentless and I felt like I may have reached my limit. 

We barely made it the 2.5 miles to The Pines. The Pines is a man-made camp that holds a water trough. Many hikers stop here to rest in the shade and restock on water before either deciding to descend or to continue onward towards Chief Peak or other backcountry destinations. We laid out our sleeping pads and basically crumbled onto the forest floor. Or I guess I crumbled, Andrew is more manly than that. We decided to rest up and then discuss whether we should continue trekking onward to Chief.

Not too long after lying around, a group of Cub Scouts we had met along the trail made it to The Pines as well. You can read about their trip here. One of their leaders, Craig (who also has a trail guide to the LPNF) came over to us and mentioned that our bright idea to climb Chief Peak was probably a no-go. Once you pass The Pines, there is no shade until you reach the North side of the peak. Which I was grateful to hear, I couldn't seem to muster up enough stamina to push on further in the heat. Not to mention our water was running lower than usual. (Lesson learned, buy a water filter) Andrew was a tad disappointed. 

We set up camp and spent the next several hours talking and watching the breeze through the trees, wishing it was cooler. While talking, we did decide on a new vision for future hikes. To not be so set on the destination, and enjoy the trail more and how far we do get each time. Sometimes I feel there is pressure to make it to the top or all the way, or else I feel we aren't successful. But I think another lesson we learned this trip was that we need to be able to discern when it's time to turn around and/or when not to continue. 

As the sun set, we found ourselves quickly fading and decided to call it an early night. It was the first time in a while we were able to sleep without the rain-fly on. The next morning we tore down our camp, had breakfast, and made it down to the trail head in 1/2 the time it took us up.

On our way back down, we met a couple and their dog who were going up to the creek for their morning hike after breakfast. We told them about the bear and the woman said they actually have a lot of bears in the area. They are generally massive too, as they feed off the orchards, who knew bears love avocado. 

Now for those who just want to look at pictures: