Chilao Base Camp (Saturday and Sunday, February 20-21): Chilao was named after Jose Gonzales, a notable bandido who killed a bear with some slick knife-work. The men were so impressed they called him “Chillia” hot stuff, and so the canyon got its name. The Chilao Base Camp consisted of a number of camp sites nestled in the Angeles National Forest near Highway 2. We got to the campsites early in the morning on Saturday. With the popularity of the site, it would be best to get there on Friday night. We lucked out with a couple of items that weekend:
1. On Friday, the air was damp and would have made for a cold early morning sleep on Saturday without tents. On Saturday evening, a light warm wind came up making for a dry, very comfortable night underneath the stars.
2. We lucked out with the campsites being near one another. That was just pure luck. Mr. Bowers and Mr. Washburn arrived on Friday night and tried to save campsites near one another. We will leave on Friday night from now on.
On Saturday, the Scouts day-hiked from Chilao Campground to Horse Flats. For those that ride horses, this would be a great spot to pack camp with your horse. For those of us with two legs, we continued to Mt. Hillyer. The trail is downhill through a narrow canyon and then starts climbing toward the peak of Mt. Hillyer. From Mt. Hillyer, one could see a fantastic view of the Angeles National Forest along with the devastation of the 2009 Station Fire. The Scouts also discovered the Poodle Dog Bush along the trail and near the campsites. Poodle Dog is one of the poisonous plants that appears after a fire and disappears around 10 years after a fire. We could also start to see the forest starting to recover from the fire in certain areas. Nature has an amazing healing force.
There were gigantic boulders along the trail where the Scouts and the older boys (adults) showed their bouldering abilities. Unfortunately, that downhill trail became an uphill trek on the way back to camp. Meanwhile, back at the camp, one of the patrols had me try their culinary work with tacos. It was pretty darn good. The patrols are definitely working hard on their culinary skills.