Weekly Gallery Update #8: Header Images

My Weekly Gallery Updates are about sharing photos I’ve added to the gallery section of this site.  The galleries are my way of creating a visual approach to searching for hikes by having collections of photos that link to information about hiking to where each photo was taken.

Side note for bloggers: One of the reasons I chose the Twenty Eleven Theme was because it has lots of different features and functionality.  I expected that over time I might grow into it.  A feature that recently caught my attention is the option to have random headers load with each page click (WordPress bloggers can find this feature in themes that support it from the dashboard by clicking on the Appearance and then Header tabs).

Since a key component of my blog is to provide visitors with a visual means to find hikes, it makes sense to use the header area to assist in that goal.  I think that having a randomly appearing header image with each page click helps emphasize discovery.  This gallery will work a little different than the others as the images will be organized in alphabetical order by trail name instead of by most recently added.  This will allow someone who wants to know more about a trail in the header image to quickly find it by clicking on the link below the gallery image.  Also, because I need to crop the images to make them header sized, I’m including the whole image in the gallery as well.  I will update this gallery more often than the others to periodically inform people of this functionality.  Presently, there are ten header images, five are shown below.  The rest of them can be seen in the Header Images Gallery.

Pacific Crest Trail, October 2011

Pacific Crest Trail, October 2011

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More photos of the Pacific Crest Trail from Mt. Baden-Powell to JCT Dawson Saddle

Lower San Gabriel Peak Trail, December 2011

Lower San Gabriel Peak Trail, December 2011

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More photos of the Lower San Gabriel Peak Trail. 

Silver Moccasin Trail, February 2012

Silver Moccasin Trail, February 2012

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More photos of the Silver Moccasin Trail between Charlton Flats and Little Pines Loop

Upper Sam Merrill Trail, January 2012

Upper Sam Merrill Trail, January 2012

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More photos of the Upper Sam Merrill Trail

Valley Forge Trail, November 2012

Valley Forge Trail, November 2012

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More photos of the Valley Forge Trail

Weekly Gallery Update #6: Panoramas

My Weekly Gallery Updates are about sharing photos I’ve added to the gallery section of this site.  The galleries are my way of creating a visual approach to searching for hikes by having collections of photos that link to information about hiking to where each photo was taken.

This week I’ve added five photos to my new Panoramas Gallery.  I’ve just started reading my camera manual to learn more how to use it. Among the things I’ve been trying out recently is the panorama mode function which takes several pictures as I move the camera that are stitched together in the cameras software creating a wide view image.  I’ve become fond of this feature as it gives a more comprehensive view of the terrain even though the output is significantly smaller in pixels than a typical photo.

December 2012 (click to enlarge)

December 2012 (click to enlarge)

Above photo taken from the Mt. Hillyer Trail

December 2012 (click to enlarge)

December 2012 (click to enlarge)

Above photo taken from the Silver Moccasin Trail

November 2012 (click to enlarge)

November 2012 (click to enlarge)

Above photo taken from the Valley Forge Trail

November 2012 (click to enlarge)

November 2012 (click to enlarge)

Above photo taken from Mt. Lowe

November 2012 (click to enlarge)

November 2012 (click to enlarge)

Above photo taken from San Gabriel Peak

What the ESA Sign Means For Trail Users

I took some family and friends on a hike today.  The original plan was to travel the Silver Moccasin Trail from Angeles Crest Highway to the San Gabriel River (which I wrote about in my last post).  However, there was a newly posted ESA (Environmentally Sensitive Area) sign stating “No Entrance Permitted.”

It’s location (a few feet left of the trailhead) made the meaning a little vague–at least for me and those I was with.  If the sign was posted in the trail itself, I would have seen it as clear that the trail was off limits.  If it was further away, I would have seen it as clear that it did not apply to the trail.

In part because I know of numerous other trails close by, we decided to accept the “no entrance permitted” interpretation and hiked elsewhere.

After our hike I stopped by the Clear Creek Information Center to get an official interpretation.  It turns out that the sign only applies to areas off the trail.  So, the trail is open, one just needs to stay on it.

I also learned that the Angeles Forest website in not kept up to date.  For those who want current information regarding trail closures etc, the ranger suggested calling.  Phone numbers are on their website: http://www.fs.usda.gov/angeles under “contact information” in the left box area.

Death and Continued Life Along the Silver Moccasin Trail to the San Gabriel River

Hiking the Silver Moccasin Trail from Angeles Crest Highway down to the San Gabriel River is a journey crisscrossing burn areas showing signs of forest regeneration with areas that survived the Station Fire.  Much of the time the trek feels as though one is walking through a quilted landscape with patches of burn, patches of regeneration, and patches of forest that survived in view simultaneously.  

Purple flowers on regenerating Poodle Dog Bush (which can cause a rash), burned trees and green forest in the background.

I found this tapestry simultaneously sad and hopeful.  The obvious sadness I felt while thinking about what was lost was tempered with constant exposure to what remained and what was regenerating.

When I first hiked this trail in June 2011, the flowers were in full bloom.

View near the top of Shortcut Canyon along the more exposed areas of the hike.

Up near the top of Shortcut Canyon the blooming flowers were what made the process of forest regeneration so apparent–especially in areas where it was clear that there were no shade trees in the past.  The purple flowers are from the Poodle Dog Bush and can cause a rash.  Seeds from these flowers remain dormant over long periods of time waiting for fires to wake them up.  While the Station Fire was a disaster of human origin, I find it helpful to think about the fact that fire is inevitable in the forest  and that some plants are lying around waiting for fire in order to cause their birth.

In parts where the charred remains of shade trees were dominant, what was lost became more prominent.  Without the foliage however, views were less obstructed.  Almost like finding out something you didn’t know about someone at a funeral, there were far off vistas to see that were previously blocked.  Like people, there is more to the forest than can be seen from one perspective.

View toward Mt. Wilson through the charred remains of shade trees.

Part of what makes this particular hike hopeful is that about halfway down Shortcut Canyon the trail follows a stream leading to the San Gabriel River.  Where there’s water there is usually life.  Seeing creatures living in the area helps bolster the feeling that eventually the forest will return again.  My dominant thoughts through this area of the hike were focused on what is alive and starting to flourish.  During a hike in August 2011, my brother and I saw around a hundred frogs and tadpoles along the stream.

Frog along the stream leading to the San Gabriel River

 For more photos of frogs, tadpoles, lizards and other creatures I saw along this trail, see the new Creatures Gallery.

The trail ends at the San Gabriel River (which in many spots appears unaffected by the fire).  Across the river is the West Fork Trail Camp.

The San Gabriel River where the Silver Moccasin Trail ends at the West Fork Trail Camp.

For more photos of the trail, directions, and other information, see the Silver Moccasin Trail from Angeles Crest to West Fork Trail Camp.

Vetter Mountain

Vetter Mountain is a fire lookout offering excellent views in all directions.  The lookout is the high point within a relatively hilly area looking over smaller hills and valleys over a long distance.  However, it is also lower than most peaks seen further off into the distance. So, the views are simultaneously both expansive and enclosed.  The only exception is that on a clear day, the ocean can be seen through a low point in the range east of Mt. Wilson. There is a picnic area on Vetter Mountain as well as several picnic areas along the way leading to it. 

View from Vetter Mountain

The shortest route to Vetter Mountain is to take the hike up the road up from the parking area at Charlton Flats.

Road leading up from Charlton Flats parking area.

Another option is to take the Silver Moccasin Trail down to Big Tujunga Creek and up to its junction at Charlton Flats and then proceed to Vetter Mountain.

Silver Moccasin Trail close to junction at Charlton Flats

A car shuttle option would cover all the above mentioned territory but with less miles than completing a round trip using the Silver Moccasin Trail.

View from un-paved road close to Vetter Mountain