There are a bunch of nice hikes in the San Gabriel mountains, just 15 minutes drive from Caltech. Over winter break, I hiked the Mt. Zion trail via Lower Winter Creek Trail (this one). The trail is 9.6 miles long and has an elevation gain of 2,100 ft, and it took us about 5 hours to hike.
Both me and my boyfriend recently got new hiking shoes, so we took a photo just before we started to break them in :P Too bad we didn’t take an after photo though – they became all gray from the dust on the trail!
The trail actually starts off with a steep descent from Chantry Flats to Lower Winter Creek Trail. It was definitely smart to start this way – I wouldn’t want to hike up that steep slope after a long hike.
We made a small detour (0.5 mile) to Sturtevant Falls, which is a 50 foot waterfall into a small pond. (Sorry about the rotated photo, for some reason I can’t save the post after rotating the photo).
Continuing on the hike, we went through some amazing forests where the leaves were a mix of yellow, orange, and green. It was spectacularly pretty. I would love to come here again.
The trail also passes by Sturtevant Camp, which surprised me. I’d actually passed through the same camp, although going on a different hike, 3 years ago on a house event!
At the very top, we got a nice view of the surroundings :) We also saw a bunch of acorns on the ground, with their caps and nuts separated, which was pretty interesting.
On the way down, the Upper Winter Creek trail follows the side of the mountain and you constantly get a view of the surrounding mountains. It’s very different from the forested first half of the hike!
Overall, I thought this was a really nice hike. Not too long, moderately strenuous, and beautiful!
One of the most exciting aspects of college life is the freedom that students enjoy when living on their own. When most students think about college life, one of the first things that comes to mind is Greek life, with the many sororities and fraternities on campuses across the country. While Caltech does not have Greek life, per se, we do have a unique housing system, similar to that of Hogwarts. There are eight houses and one residence on campus: Avery, Blacker, Dabney, Fleming, Lloyd, Page, Ricketts, Ruddock, and the Bechtel Residence. Each of the houses has its own unique culture, character, and traditions. I am a member of Ruddock House!
This past year was so different than most of us could have ever imagined. Living in “the virtual school year” posed a plethora of challenges, but at the same time, it opened the door to new possibilities. As a society, we learned how to better operate in a virtual world, and as individuals, we had time for new endeavors. For myself, this meant taking the leap of faith to move away from home and live with some fellow Techers. While I had already had the experience of moving away from home and coming to live in the Caltech houses, this was quite different. Instead of living in organized student residences with hundreds of other students, a meal plan, and tons of support resources, I was about to go live with just 5 other people (some of which I did not know super well) and we had to find and manage our own housing, food, and necessities.
My favorite part about Caltech is the Houses! The easiest way to describe them is as Hogwarts houses: each has their own personality and group of people and the first thing you do at Caltech is go through a “sorting” process. The people are what makes the Houses at Caltech so great. As a frosh, it’s amazing to be able to come in and immediately have a group of 100+ people to support you. Because the Houses have students from every grade, you make friends with upperclassmen and can ask for help on tons of things like: