New Page Additions since January 2016

Below is a list of new and updated pages for this blog since January 2016.

My favorite hike in Angeles Forest this quarter was hike #3, my snowshoeing trek to Mt. Hillyer.

My favorite hike in Angeles Forest this quarter was hike #3, my snowshoeing trek to Mt. Hillyer.

Clicking on links below will open the page in a new tab so that it will be easier to follow links on those pages and still get back to this one.

Hiking Journal

New Hikes

Updated Hikes

New 52 Hike Challenge

Updated Peaks (also updated on My Peak Bagging Resume Page):

  • Mt. Hillyer, I added snow pictures and two new routes. One route starting from Angeles Crest Highway and another starting from Three Points forming a loop with a faint hiker’s trail.
  • Mt. Lowe, I added a new route starting from Eaton Saddle and going as far as Idlehour Campground.
  • Muir Peak, I added a new route starting from Upper Sunset Ridge.
  • San Gabriel Peak, I added a new loop route from Red Box.
  • Winston Peak, I added a new route that includes Cooper Canyon Falls

Updated Trail Photo Galleries:

New Reference Galleries

A River, A Bridge, And A Bighorn Sheep

My favorite hike in Angeles National Forest last month was along the San Gabriel River to the Bridge To Nowhere. In the past I hadn’t hiked this trail mostly because it wasn’t strenuous enough for the training I was doing to get ready for various trips I had planned (e.g. Mt. Whitney twice, The Grand Canyon rim to rim and back, and last year’s injury postponed  High Sierra Trail). This year I’m focused more on recovery and preventing myself from getting reinjured. Although I will go on a number of trips this year, they will be planned only a few weeks in advance and will be tied to where I’m at in my recovery. Unless I get under a certain weight, my trips will be limited to the car camping variety so I can keep pack weight down.

San Gabriel River in Lower San Gabriel Canyon

San Gabriel River in Lower San Gabriel Canyon

So, a hike along a river with not very much elevation gain sounded like a good choice for my first hike of the year covering over ten miles, and it was. San Gabriel Canyon’s combination of relatively flat terrain along the river, with a comparatively wider width, and the highest enclosing walls of any canyon in Angeles National Forest make it a unique landscape to walk through here. I still need to get between the Narrows and Vincent Gulch to view the highest walls (at the base between Mt. Baden-Powell and Mt. Baldy). The result is a kind of grand enclosed openness with dramatic long views.

One of the long views down river.

One of the long views down river.

The San Gabriel River flows with more volume here. Several canyons and gulches drain into it bringing water down from some of the highest peaks in the forest. River crossings here mean your feet are going to get wet.  Even with this extreme drought California is enduring, I found myself almost knee deep in water a few times and over ankle deep several times as I waded through the numerous crossings mandated by the flow of the river hitting alternating side walls of the canyon. Clearly, it’s a good idea to pay attention to any storms and consider the amount of precipitation released to know what level of water to expect.

One of the many steam crossings required due to the river flowing into one of the canyon walls.

One of the many steam crossings required due to the river flowing into one of the canyon walls.

As the river meanders or straightens out to follow it’s easiest path down toward East Fork, as the grade changes to alter the speed or it’s movement, and as the river channel itself widens and contracts; a variety of diverse places emerge. In some places the canyon is wide enough for the river to be less dominant. This makes a continually changing landscape which I found invigorating to traverse.

An oak tree on the continually changing path along the river.

An oak tree in the foreground on the continually changing path along the river.

The Bridge to Nowhere is located on private property that is technically not part of Angeles National Forest. There’s a sign informing visitors of a handful of reasonable rules for entry. In the past, when I’ve talked to people about this hike, their focus tended to be on the bridge and the bungee jumping opportunities that exist there. While this is a truly unique opportunity within the forest, I found reaching the bridge a little anti-climatic. Perhaps it’s because I have no interest in bungee jumping. I found the bridge to be mostly a good stopping point and a nice place to have lunch before turning back. While there, I contemplated how happy I was that the bridge doesn’t connect to any roadways. I found the river and canyon so unique for this forest that it would be a shame not to be able to walk through it as I had. Also, being there, I found that it really didn’t bother me that a commercial bungee jumping enterprise was set up. Although the location is interesting as it leads into the Narrows, it is actually fairly intimate and doesn’t (visually at least) impact much around it making it a pretty well contained activity.

The Bridge To Nowhere

The Bridge To Nowhere

On my way back I experienced one of my all time favorite interactions with wildlife in the forest. A bighorn sheep appeared on the trail directly in front of me. We both stopped and looked at each other long enough for me to get my camera out and take a picture.

Bighorn on the trail in front of me.

Bighorn on the trail in front of me.

Soon, the bighorn slowly walked toward me. I found this unexpected as I’m accustomed to animals moving away from me when they see me (or at least staying put).  After crossing about a third of the gap between us he headed up the rocky outcrop on my right.

Bighorn veering off trail and heading up the rocky outcrop.

Bighorn veering off trail and heading up the rocky outcrop.

I assumed he had disappeared out of view for good only to hear his steps getting closer. I looked up and saw him looking down on me from about mid height of the outcrop (why did I put my lens cap back on my camera?). Fortunately, he gave me enough time to turn my camera back on, take my lens cover off, and snap a somewhat shaky photo of him moving away from me to higher ground.

Bighorn just above me as he moved around me by going to higher ground.

Bighorn just above me as he moved around me by going to higher ground.

Learning from my mistake, I kept my camera out and was ready when he came down from the outcrop and began his journey up a ridge. The whole time, all I did was stay in the same spot and rotate myself to face him. He slowly made it up the ridge looking back toward me only on occasion. Soon he was far enough away that he blended into the landscape and was only visible when he moved. I found it impressive how well he blended into the landscape. That made me wonder how many bighorns I might have walked by over the years and not noticed.

Bighorn just after coming down from the rocky outcrop and heading up the ridge.

Bighorn just after coming down from the rocky outcrop and heading up the ridge.

This was definitely the highlight of my hike. Part of what made this experience great for me is that the time it took for the bighorn to make it around me felt like he moved with awareness but no fear. It felt like my presence in his home wasn’t that annoying. While I don’t imagine having another exchange like this, the river will be a guaranteed highlight for me anytime I return. I’ll be back often.

New Additions In January 2015

Among the things I’m working on improving for 2015 is to better communicate what pages get added and updated on this blog/website due to the fact that I publish far more pages than posts. The blogging aspect is handled pretty well as every time I add a post, those that choose to follow the blog get alerted to that new content by their chosen source for following. However, when I add a page or update a page (the more website nature of this endeavor), there’s no automatic way to inform people. So, I’ve decided to write a monthly post that outlines what pages are new or updated to make it easier for returning readers to find what is more recent. What follows is the my first “New Additions” monthly post.

Hiking up San Gabriel Canyon, following the San Gabriel River to the Bridge to Nowhere, and seeing a bighorn was my favorite Angeles Forest hike this month--#6 of the year.

Hiking up San Gabriel Canyon, following the San Gabriel River to the Bridge to Nowhere, and seeing a bighorn was my favorite Angeles Forest hike this month–#6 of the year.

Clicking on links below will open the page in a new tab so that it will be easier to follow links on those pages and still get back to this one.

Hiking Journal

  • New journal started for 2015 and accessed from the 2015 Hikes tab. New in 2015 is a map included with each hike described. I went on eight hikes in January.

New Peaks:

  • ABDSP Peak 2152: Elevation 2152′–Anza Borrego Desert State Park. (Note: this peak is unofficial but a great extension to the Rock Tanks Loop).
  • Josephine Peak: Elevation 5558′–Angeles National Forest

Updated Peaks:

New hikes with step by step instructions:

New trailhead pages

Updated trailhead pages

New trail segment information pages:

New  trail photo galleries:

New points of interest pages:

New Photo galleries for areas outside Angeles National Forest:

New book reference page:

A Calm Between Two Storms

I went hiking last Thursday between the two storms that finally brought some rain to drought stricken California. My hike started with the clouds from Wednesday’s storm slowly breaking up and giving way to mostly blue skies as I made my way from the Cobb Estate Trailhead to Mt. Lowe.

Lower Sam Merrill Trail

Lower Sam Merrill Trail

 

With a freshness to the air that comes after a rain and the corresponding intensified smells that damp ground and wet vegetation produce, the landscape felt more alive to me than usual. The interplay of sunlight breaking through and then being hidden by clouds added a compelling dynamism and energy that clear skies don’t produce for me.

View coming down the Upper Sam Merrill Trail from Mt. Lowe.

View coming down the Upper Sam Merrill Trail from Mt. Lowe.

By the time I made it down to Mt. Lowe Campground and found the water tank Chris told me about, the sun was out and the skies were mostly clear. I enjoyed a short rest sitting at one of the picnic benches feeling confident I was going to see a fantastic sunset on my way down the Middle Sam Merrill Trail.

Water Tank above and behind the remains of the concrete retaining wall of the Old Alpine Tavern.

Water Tank above and behind the remains of the concrete retaining wall of the Old Alpine Tavern.

It’s just over a mile from Mt. Lowe Campground to Sunset Point along the Middle Sam Merrill Trail. The terrain is easy hiking but views are blocked by the north face of an unnamed mountain (that I sometimes refer to as Inspiration Peak for quick reference). While I covered that short amount of ground, the weather changed dramatically. I arrived at Sunset Point to discover it was engulfed in the foggy moisture of clouds making their way over the mountain. The coming storm was making its presence felt. Further down the trail, light from below began breaking through foretelling my pending descent below the clouds.

Light breaking through the clouds from below along the Middle Sam Merrill Trail.

Light breaking through the clouds from below along the Middle Sam Merrill Trail.

When I got below the clouds, the view was clear and expansive. With clouds forming above the mountain but not off in the distance, the nuanced subtle changes in light made the night portion of my hike extra special.

View from the Middle Sam Merrill Trail close to Echo Mountain.

View from the Middle Sam Merrill Trail close to Echo Mountain.

Not being able to predict what I’m going to experience is part of what makes hiking so enjoyable for me. Every hike seams to produce it’s own story. Starting my day with clouds breaking up from Wednesday’s storm and ending it with the arrival of clouds for the storm that started late Thursday night intensified the feeling that I was just able to squeeze this one in–a calm between two storms.

Feeling Better on Vetter Mountain

I’ve been sick with the flu for the past couple weeks. Last Sunday I finally felt good enough to exercise and was joined on a short hike of the Silver Moccasin Trail to Vetter Mountain with my friends Etienne, Camila, and Chloe. Although I was still coughing up mucus (aka lung cookies), it felt fantastic to be in the forest again. Barring any other setbacks, I think I’ll be able to work in two hikes a week for the foreseeable future.

View from Vetter Mountain

View from Vetter Mountain

Whenever I look out and can’t see any peaks from my house because the clouds are too low, there’s a great chance that I can go above the clouds by getting myself up to 4,000 or 5,000 feet. It’s an experience I can’t seem to get enough of and looking down on the clouds made my hike even better. There’s something about deciding to be in different weather by simply going into the mountains that appeals to me–especially on days when I can see the difference. Although I was already tired by the time I made it to Vetter Mountain, I felt so much better physically and mentally than I have in weeks that it was very uplifting to be there (especially with such great friends). Vetter Mountain is a fire lookout (that burned in the Station Fire) and a high point with an expansive 360 degree view towards taller mountains that surround it off in the distance (an unusual view in the San Gabriel Mountains).

View toward the Mt. Wilson Crest including Occidental Peak, Mt. Markham, San Gabriel Peak, Mt. Disappointment, and Mt. Deception from the Silver Moccasin Trail.

View toward the Mt. Wilson Crest including Occidental Peak, Mt. Markham, San Gabriel Peak, Mt. Disappointment, and Mt. Deception from the Silver Moccasin Trail.

From the summit and along the Silver Moccasin Trail, there are views of so many of the peaks I plan to hike (from Mt. Wilson to Mt. Baldy) this year that I began planning out my training to get ready to hike the High Sierra Trail in July. In addition to distance and gain, a key consideration is season. For example, the stretch of the Silver Moccasin trail I was hiking was extensively burned by the Station Fire and has no shade making it a hike for cool days only. I found myself hoping that we would get some snow. This has been another very dry winter so far in Southern California. With that in mind, it was nice to see some water flowing in Tujunga Creek.

Tujunga Creek crossing along the Silver Moccasin Trail.

Tujunga Creek crossing along the Silver Moccasin Trail.