I'll never forget the day Tin walked into my shop, the scent of pachouli wafting off him like he just walked out of Cloud 9. His hair blowing in the wind as he's rushing toward me, eyes wide open and excited for the next leg of his SoCal journey.
He had his mind set on a custom frame bag for his Crust Bikes Nor'Easter. I was trying my hardest to talk him away from it and more toward a stock frame bag. You know, an "off the shelf" kind of bag. After a few test fits, we found that a custom bag was a better option considering Tin's frame size and use for bikepacking.
Understandably so, Tin persisted and the deal was set that I would construct him a custom frame, for him and only him. One that would fit his specialty steel Fat Tire Gravel Bike and only his bike. It would be made of the finest USA materials and hardware. From the Cordura exterior all the way to the water resistant zipper tape made by YKK in Georgia. The bag would be simple yet effective with a main zipper compartment, separated by an inner divider allowing you to stash less important items at the base. There would be a non drive-side full zipper sleeve, inner pump lashings and of course backed by the Road Runner Warranty.
Fast forward a few days and we're off exploring our local trails, connecting them all the way to the mountains. A number of old favorites for us but everything was totally new to Tin. Watching his face in awe as we ascend to the top of the Hobo Trail, was a glorious moment. Continuing on toward the foothills while enjoying one another's company, we soon found ourselves at the base of the Angeles Nation Forest with no place to go but up. What would seem like a hike-a-bike to most was just a mere suffer fest for us seasoned bike packers. Thankfully the iconic views of the LA Basin offered enough entertainment while we traversed at a speed slower than some walk. The 3 mile gravel climb up to Henninger Flats is quite short but at some 10% grade, good luck getting anywhere fast.
After our slow ascend up the mountain, we explored the Flats until making our way to Fuji Camp located at the top of Henninger right off the Mt. Wilson Toll Road. If you're wanting to camp in Henninger Flats, I strongly recommend Fuji Camp. It's quiet, secluded and very scenic. The only downside to Fuji Camp is that it lacks the amazing view of the Los Angeles Basin. Not to worry because there are plenty of lookout spots to watch the sunset, you just have to seek them out. Find a good one and sit back, relax and enjoy the show. Once the sun sets, the light show begins. On a clear night you can often see all the way West to the Pacific Palisades and all the way South to Santa Catalina - an island 38 miles off the California Coast.
We had enough sense the night before to watch the weather. Although we're in Los Angeles, the city coined with having "no weather," you still need to be careful when entering into the surrounding mountain range. Even if you're barely climbing in the foothills, snow and ice have been seen as low as 1500' in the LA Basin. Take note that Henninger sits at 2600' above sea level.
With rain on the horizon, we all made sure to pack accordingly. With rain comes fog and I can tell you, that it sure made for a fun descend down the toll road.