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From my home in Azusa I can see a number of peaks in the nearby San Gabriels. One peak has eluded me for years, and this fair-weather weekend occasioned the opportunity to conquer that peak. Saturday was spent cleaning up debris from the big winds this week. So on Sunday morning my wife dropped me off at the trailhead and I was ready to hike.
10:00 - Begin hike. It’s about 63 degrees and the warm sun feels good. I’m excited to be on a trail I’ve not hiked before. The hillsides are greening up from the rains. The sky is blue and cloudless. There is virtually nothing in bloom. The red berries of toyon add a splash of color. As I climb, views of the San Gabriel Valley spread out before me, but somewhat muted by haze. There is a quiet peacefulness here...very relaxing. Several deer graze. Soon views toward the high county to the north and east open up. Snow covers Baldy. I climb at a pleasant pace, soaking in the beauty of the rich chaparral. I love the aroma of sage. My destination comes into view. The route becomes steeper as I approach the peak. I’m eager to arrive.
12:00 - Summit (3100+'). What a spending peak! I wander around to experience the views, which are partially obscured by vegetation. A rock serves as a suitable spot to sit and enjoy lunch. The breeze is cool and I put on a long sleeve shirt. I get my binoculars out to get a closer look at landmarks in the vast human sprawl below, including my house...well I can’t actually indentify my house, but the imposing Target store a few blocks from my house provides a definitive reference point.
I leave the peak at 1:00 and choose a different route back. I take a side jaunt to climb another prominent summit. This one has a better view with a commanding 360 degree panorama. The sun glistens off the distant ocean. I stay less than 10 minutes. As I descend through the chaparral-covered foothills, I’m really enjoying the solitude, the pleasant weather, and the beautiful scenery. It’s fun to experience new territory.
2:43 - Paved Road / Civilization. This formally ends the hike. Now a mile-and-a-half walk down the street delivers me conveniently at a bus stop. Soon the bus comes and a comfortable ride delivers me back home.
Epilog - What a pleasant hike! About 1,800 feet in elevation gain and a total of about 8 miles. Certainly not as grand as the high country, but a very satisfying outing none the less. And it sure beats Christmas shopping! What a blessing to have such wonderful mountains close at hand to explore and relish their beauty!
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