Trail Conditions Along Upper Bear Canyon

The phrase “the map is not the territory” came to mind on my hike through upper bear canyon on Friday. The trail needs a lot of work for most hikers to want to make the effort. However, for those who are up for it, there are many rewards.

A good portion of the trail is along a stream.

A good portion of the trail is along a stream. (click to enlarge)

There are a number of things to contend with like downed trees and areas that are overgrown. The good news is that others have made their way through and marked the trail with ribbons or cairns and cut the poodle dog bush enough so that it is fairly easy to avoid making contact. There were numerous times when I got to a spot and wasn’t clear how to move forward until I spotted one of the ribbons or cairns. So, a large part of this 1.8 mile portion of trail is slow going. I’d allow double the amount of time to traverse it especially if your timing may have you chasing light.

Part of the trail through downed trees. Note the ribbons marking the trail and a way around the poodle dog bush.

Part of the trail through downed trees. Note the ribbons marking the trail and a way around the poodle dog bush.

One of the cairns along the trail.

One of the cairns along the trail.

Given the trail conditions, I’ve added numerous photos to the Upper Bear Canyon Photo Page. Fortunately there are also numerous stretches where the trail is easy to follow and enjoy even down by the stream where most of the challenges reside.

Easy stretch of trail near the stream.

Easy stretch of trail near the stream.

One of the spots where the course of the water is mostly over boulders.

One of the spots where the course of the water is mostly over boulders.

One of the easy stretches of trail heading down toward the stream from Tom Sloan Saddle.

One of the easy stretches of trail heading down toward the stream from Tom Sloan Saddle. (click to enlarge)

View down Bear Canyon near Tom Sloan Saddle. (click to enlarge).

View down Bear Canyon near Tom Sloan Saddle. (click to enlarge).

View up Bear Canyon looking toward Mt. Markham's long flat peak with San Gabriel Peak and Mt. Disappointment to the left. (click to enlarge).

View up Bear Canyon looking toward Mt. Markham’s long flat peak with San Gabriel Peak and Mt. Disappointment to the left. (click to enlarge).

Sunset And City Lights From The Sam Merrill Trail

I’ve finally started training again. I’ve been taking it too easy lately and have put on some of that weight I lost while training to hike to Mt. Whitney. Presently, I’m training to hike the Grand Canyon rim to rim and back in April.

My favorite hikes to train in winter are those departing from the Cobb Estate. I have three pragmatic reasons. First, with the shorter days I need to take advantage of the shorter drive time from my house. Second, even after 9 pm I’ve seen people going up the trail as I make my way down it. This makes me feel more comfortable hiking in the dark. Finally, there are numerous destinations that exceed a 15 mile round trip effort to reach. So, an entire winter season of weekly training can be of different hikes starting from the same place.

Last Friday I hiked from the Cobb Estate to Tom Sloan Saddle. On the way back I enjoyed another great sunset and views of city lights to finish off a long day of training. The Sam Merrill Trail has continuous unobstructed views west and south as far the Pacific Ocean often including a view of Catalina Island. This orientation has the practical benefit of providing natural light later in the day compared to other trails where the mountains block the setting sun. At its darkest, the view of city lights beyond provides something to look at outside the range of a headlamp. I find these two transitions are a wonderful way to end my day providing me with something else to fixate on other than my tired feet. Below are photos from last Friday’s sunset and views of city lights. Click on any of them to enlarge.