Distance: 4 miles (6.4 km) there and back
Time: about 50 minutes each way
Elevation gain: not much
Difficulty: terrain-wise, easy; navigation-wise, easy; fitness-wise, easy (depending on how much wine you bring)
Drive: 45 minutes (30 miles) from central Pasadena, via the 210, the 2, and the 3 to Mill Creek Summit

A few weeks ago, we did a short walk along the Pacific Crest Trail west from Mill Creek Summit picnic site on the Angeles Forest Highway. Two miles in, we stumbled across what instantly struck me as a beautiful camping spot: nothing like the dingy, viewless forest locations all the official campgrounds have, but a romantic clearing amongst spaced-out trees with panoramic views north towards Palmdale and the desert, and east and west over the back reaches of the San Gabriels.

A few weeks later, we had an opportunity to return, with our friend Simon. He had a new hammock in need of a test drive beyond the garden, and we rented equipment from Caltech (what an amazing service for a university to offer). After some disagreement about how light or heavy to pack, we drove up to Mill Creek and set off onto the PCT. The site was as beautiful as we remembered, and the trees offered perfectly placed hammock support.

After all our long and short days spent walking in these mountains, it felt magical to stay in them through sunset and into darkness, to sleep in them and wake up into their first light. We got gently stoned stargazing on gummies, and no bears or rattlers made an appearance. One of the most beautiful places I’ve ever camped.

 

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Expedition begins, 3:20 on a sunny Saturday.

 

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Setting off west.

 

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The view north up the 3.

 

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Half an hour later, scoping out the campground.

 

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Fifteen minutes later (4:30ish), already installed.

 

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Another hour (5:30), game time with a view.

 

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By 6:30ish, the light starting to change: views to the north, the northwest, and the northeast (and a desert close-up).

 

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And the perfect rock for admiring them.

 

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Quarter to seven, high time to crack open the claret.

 

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Note the bear box in action.

 

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Dinner in progress.

 

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Quarter to eight, the end of the sunset.

 

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7 am, person in hammock’s view of person on the Viewing Rock.

 

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7:15 am, third person still slumbering.

 

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8 am, person in hammock preparing to disembark.

 

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Intruder in hammock.

 

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Contact lens fail.

 

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9 am, other camping persons preparing to leave.

 

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Looks like the packing-heavy team won.

 

 

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Leaving nothing but footprints.

 

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9:30 am, in sight of the 3 again, and civilisation back within reach.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One thought on “Mill Creek West: camping

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