Camping Adventure

Apr 5, 2012


Our first time doing an overnight hiking trip with Baxter. In the middle of February. It was far colder then we anticipated. Baxter was not amused


From Interstate 210 in La Canada, exit at Angeles Crest Highway. Drive north 14 miles to Red Box Saddle parking lot. Hike 3.5 miles to the Valley Forge Trail Camp.


We’ve been wanting to go camping with Baxter for ages now. We kept talking about it but never planned beyond our day hikes. Knowing that the next few months would be extremely busy, we decided to do an overnight hike during President’s Day weekend. We live in Southern California, so it can’t get that cold right?


After packing supplies for the trip, we drove up into the Angeles National Forest. It has quickly become our favorite place to hike with Baxter. Dogs are allowed and there are so many beautiful areas to explore. The Gabrielino Trail in particular we’ve been drawn too. So far we’ve hiked three different sections of this roughly 28 mile trail now. Maybe one day we’ll do the whole stretch.

This time we drove up Angeles Crest Highway, purchased our fire permit at the Ranger Station, and parked at Red Box. By that point, we knew this was going to be a cold adventure and we contemplated turning around. It was windy, foggy, and close to freezing. But we were packed, all set to go, and Baxter was pulling on his leash ready to hit the trail.

The trail from Red Box down is serene and beautiful. We didn’t meet too many fellow hikers or any dogs but it’s probably a lot more crowded in the summer months. Due to recent winter storms, there were a lot of fallen trees and at times it was a little difficult to follow the trail. There were several stream crossings but the fallen trees made them quite easy. Some signs were missing which lead us to the Valley Forge Trail Camp instead of our original destination of the West Fork Campground. After only hiking about 3 miles, we took a wrong left and due to the approaching sunset, we set up camp at Valley Forge instead of backtracking. We were the only souls there.

At this point, the sun was dipping below the hills and the temperature dropped drastically. As we set up camp, Baxter was miserable. Up to that point, he’d been enjoying the hike. Standing still, he started to shiver. Once our sleeping bags were set up, Baxter hopped inside with no hesitation. He burrowed himself into our down sleeping bags. We realized how much we need to find a really good jacket that keeps him warm, especially his nearly bald tummy. We also didn’t expect it be so cold that Baxter ended up sleeping inside our mummy sleeping bags all night. We took turns with him as these bags are almost too snug for 1 person to fit so it was quite uncomfortable trying to sleep with Baxter wiggling around.

But the bags and our tent kept us warm. The next morning, we opened the fly to discover our tent poles had frozen over and there was a layer of frost on the ground! After a quick breakfast, we headed back up to Red Box. It was a steep descent to Valley Forge, but the hike back up was not as bad as expected. There are plenty of switchbacks that make the climb much easier.

After making it to the top, we got into our car and turned up the heat, wrapping a blanket around Baxter, and headed home. Despite the cold weather, it was a successful camping trip. We learned a lot of about what we’d do differently next time. For starters we wouldn’t do this again during the winter!

More Photos

freezing puppy

crossing the creek

View Flickr Set »


Baxter’s Rating

The Hike

4 out of 4 paws up


2 out of 4 paws up

- Alyse

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