Hiking Guru David Lockeretz Shares Everything About His 1000 Hikes in Southern California
Republished courtesy of MightyGoods.
I’m David Lockeretz, originally from Boston, living in the L.A. area since 1999. Originally, I moved out here to pursue a music career, which I am still doing, but I also got really interested in hiking and started my website back in 2010. I have also written for a few other websites. Besides music and hiking, I enjoy hanging out with my wife and our two dogs and cat, movies, reading, beer and watching baseball and football.
How and why did you get into adventuring?
I’d always liked the idea of getting out into nature, maybe visiting Joshua Tree or Death Valley or the mountains around L.A. but it was never a priority. In 2007, my mother died and I also went through a divorce, so I needed new ways to stay upbeat, especially during the holidays.
Fortunately, in California, the climate permits year-round hiking so I started finding trails. I was amazed by how much variety there was – deserts, beaches mountains – and how many of these places I’d driven right past without having any idea that they’d been there all this time. Soon I was hiking every opportunity I could get and it’s had an enormously positive impact on my life.
How do you finance your adventures?
I spend far more money on transportation (mainly gasoline but also admission fees and occasional boat rides) than gear. Because I mainly day hike and am not a big backpacker, I tend not to buy much gear – maybe one backpack every few years, a new pair of hiking boots every year or two, hiking pants and socks here and there.
I used to be a brand ambassador for Sport Chalet and would regularly get free gear from them and I also work with a website called, Sole Labz that sends me free gear as well. Most of the travel expenses I finance myself but I make money from my website (advertising, affiliation links, donations) and from photos I take on the hikes, which I upload to stock photography sites. This doesn’t cover all the costs of my hiking, but it takes a good bite out of it.
How do you eat and sleep on the road?
Most of the hiking I do is day hiking so not much planning of meals and sleeping is involved. When I backpack, I usually use a Camp Valley 2-person tent, Coleman sleeping bag and Alps Featherlite inflatable mattress (can be inflated by hand-pumping in ten minutes, no electricity required). For meals, it’s usually a combination of protein bars, jerky and MRE (Meals ready to eat). My preferred brand is Mountain House and I have a small portable wood-burning stove from Solo Stove to heat the water.
How do you bring your things with you?
Usually I have a medium-sized back pack (Osprey from REI) that can easily fit water, food, extra clothes if I need them and more. For bigger hikes and backpacking trips I have an older, military-style pack and a more modern Kelty pack.
How do you organize things in your bags?
No real system, but I tend to put the heavier items in the bigger compartment and line them up in a way that is comfortable on my back. For me, water resistant bags aren’t that important because most of the hikes in the L.A. area are on pretty dry terrain. I’ve done a few hikes that have required wading through knee-deep or higher water and when I get worried I just take my backpack off and carry it above my head.
How do your bags and gear hold up?
Pretty well in general, normal wear and tear is to be expected. Most of the day hiking that I do doesn’t really push my gear to its limits.
Any gear you wish you had brought with you from the beginning?
Not really, although sometimes I forget to bring insect repellent or my sun hat. I’ve also run out of water a few times. Usually I budget a quart for every three miles I’m going. I don’t mind carrying extra, not just because you never know when you may need something, but for me, carrying more weight helps me burn more calories.
What has been your best adventuring purchase below $100?
It’s hard to say but I’d probably have to go with any of the pairs of hiking pants (between $20 – $40, usually from Columbia but I’ve used other brands too) I’ve bought. I started off hiking in jeans and have realized that hiking pants are more comfortable in both hot and cold weather, especially in rain or snow.
What inspired you to write your guidebook?
Since most of my writing about hiking is online, it was nice to see how it looks in print. The book has write-ups of the first 100 hikes that were posted on the site and it provides an alternative to going back through each page individually. Also, having the write-ups in print is helpful for hikers because you don’t always have cell phone reception so you can’t count on being able to look up directions when you’re in the wilderness.
What is your best advice for other adventurers?
Hit that happy medium of preparing intelligently but not letting yourself get intimidated. There is a lot of information, not just on my website but on many others, available about the potential dangers and hazards of hiking, so there is no excuse not to be informed.
In So Cal in particular, with temperatures and weather being as varied as they are, you have to plan differently say, if you are going to Joshua Tree, or if you are going high up in the San Gabriels where there may be snow well into the summer.
Lately, social media has been blamed for inexperienced and ill-prepared hikers getting into trouble – they see everyone’s great selfies and they assume that they can do it too. I’ve seen lots of stories about hikers who got careless, didn’t prepare and needed to be rescued, or worse. But I also think a lot of people let themselves get intimidated to the point where they miss out on some great experiences. Yes, going into the wilderness or the desert can be scary if you’ve never done it before, so go with someone who has, read up and prepare.
What will the future bring?
I’m closing in on having 1,000 So Cal hikes written up on the site and I want to make #1,000 a special one. Outside of the L.A. area, I’ve been to Kauai twice in the past few years and I hope to be able to continue exploring over there as well as on some of the other Hawaiian islands.