Firsts by Phu Qui Nguyen

Remembering my first time in the San Gabriel Mountains...  September 16, 2011, I returned to sunny California.  I had just came back from working abroad for the year in South Korea.  Home sick, hopeless direction in life, and a break in relationships at the time.  I had more questions about life than I knew where to look for answers.  Where do I even begin searching?  

There wasn't an easy answer, not one that I could find retracing my steps.  I realized when I was slaving at work, I was making money, I had no time.  Now I had time, but not the most money.  I had sparked an interest late in my life for hiking and yearning for adventure.  With little money, what could I do?  My friend lived by the San Gabriel Mountains and suggested that we take a hike down Chantry Flats.  By no means is it a challenging hike, but we were looking for something more than just our responsibilities of adulting!  

That day, we walked down the 1.8 mile path to Sturtevant Falls was defining for my future.  The simplicity of a small stream running along the path, overhanging trees shading us, and fellow beings taking in a breath of fresh nature air.  I am still not sure if I answered any questions that day, if only to open my eyes.  I do know that life is just more than the tiny bubble we live in at times.  It starts as a path,  into a forest range, builds up to a mountain of rocks and then the rest of the world. 

I had brought a single bottle of water on that warm October day.  I was out of water on the way back and walking up the steep path, panting and begging for breaks.  From that first hike, the breaks became less an issue and more of where-to-next!  Crystal Lake, Mount Baldy, Wilson, my world blew up in best possible way.  Since then, I've come to adventure to other mountain peaks, but I'll always return to San Gabriel National Forest.  

The saying that you don't have to go very far to experience life pulled at my heart strings.  The friendships created, bonds forged, roads to be explored and dust that has yet to settle.  I'm eternally grateful for the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument.  


This is regards to the San Gabriel National Monument blog contest.  


A crab in Sturtevant Falls?!!

A crab in Sturtevant Falls?!!

Here I am learning about what the trekking poles are actually NOT used for.

Here I am learning about what the trekking poles are actually NOT used for.