Sunday, February 27, 2011

Lower Monroe Road Hike - February 27, 2011

View northeast toward Mt. Baldy from Summit 3397I watched carefully as they forecasted another winter storm hitting Friday into Saturday with snow dropping below the 1,000-foot level. The storm did hit and by Sunday the skies were clear, air was brisk, and there was plenty of snow on the mountains. I wanted to do a hike with great views of the snow-covered mountains, so I decided on Monroe Truck Trail and its two unnamed summits. And it had been five years since I hiked to them, so I figured it would be good to revisit. I drove from my home in Azusa to Little Dalton Picnic Area on Glendora Mountain Road (GMR) just above Glendora.

Heading north on Lower Monroe Truck Trail in Little Dalton Canyon10:30 - Begin hike heading north on Lower Monroe Truck Trail. The name is a misnomer since this footpath heading along the bottom of Little Dalton Canyon has no semblance of ever being a truck trail. The air is brisk and sun feels good. I love the beauty and aromas after a rain. In my hike description I had mentioned "some boulder hopping along the way," but it did not prepare me for what I would encounter. A few minutes into the hike I arrive at my first creek crossing. The water is swift but I am able to cross with no difficulty. Minutes later the next crossing is deep and wide. I find a long, hefty tree branch to help stabilize me in the precarious crossing. I keep it. There are a total 11 crossings en route, really slowing down my pace and threatening to drench me nearly every time. I manage to safely ford each one. About a half mile in I stop to check out the old mine on the west bank...not much to see.

View south toward Glendora11:26 - Reach the end of the canyon-bottom route and switch back to the south and begin to climb the east slope of Little Dalton Canyon. Even though it was a truck trail at one time, nature has reclaimed this route and it has the feel of a single-track trail. The climb is gentle and views are expanding. Not much is bloom. Horry-leaved ceanothus and wild cucumber are the predominate blooming plants, with mountain lilac starting to make its appearance. Vehicles can be heard on GMR across the canyon, particularly motorcycles. Aside from a jogger and his dog and several mountain bikers, I enjoy relative solitude. To the north up canyon, Glendora Mountain comes into view, where I was last weekend.

View northeast toward Summit 337912:36 - At 2.3 miles from the start, I arrive at the junction with Upper Mystic Canyon Trail coming up from the south from Big Dalton Canyon. A happy sunflower greets me. Haze mutes the view of the urban sprawl to the south. To the east, snow-covered Ontario Peak pokes up over the ridgeline. The trail heads northeast pointing directly to summit 2760, my first summit destination for the day. I wander along at a causal pace and stop often to photograph plants and scenery. This cool day is perfect weather to hike this sun-drenched trail. After awhile the trail contours to the northwest across the southwest flank of summit 2760. In the canyon below I can see the trail I ascended. A lone blossom of California buckwheat makes an appearance; in a few months this creamy white flower will dominate the landscape here. I take a 20-minute break at a vista point. Now climb the switchbacks east. Encounter eight other hikers in four parties. The snow-covered high country to the north comes into view. Swing around the east side of the summit and up the use path on its north side.

View south from Summit 27602:18 - Summit 2760. The unobstructed, 360-degree vista is striking. I'm concerned about the time. I still have several more miles and 800 feet of elevation gain to bag summit 3397 with a little more than 3 hours till sunset. I assess the situation and decided that I have enough time to continue on if I move at a good pace and don't doddle snapping plant photos. Leave the summit and continue northeast with earnestness.

I see the summit up ahead. The area has rebounded nicely since the 2002 Williams Fire. Chaparral is resilient. More views of the eastern high county open up. Mountain bikers heading downhill occasionally swoosh by me. I pass along the southwest flank of the summit, reach a hip, head northeast, and arrive at the ridge north of the summit. What a magnificent panorama from north to east! I take a right, walk past the apiary (no beehives are present) and climb the old firebreak south. It's not too steep.

3:19 - Summit 3397. I've made it. The broad peak offers commanding views of the heart of eastern San Gabriels. It's odd to me that this peak has no name. I have a bite to eat, tend my feet, and study the scenery. I'd like to linger longer but the sun is quickly dipping and I don't want to be finishing this hike in the dark with frigid winter temperatures.

View south from the short cut3:45 - Leave the summit and descend using the old firebreak south. This is the route I took five years earlier. It's a lot brushier now and some steep sections require vigilance. I reach the main trail in 23 minutes. The question is, Is this really a short cut? It took me 30 minutes ascending from here to the peak on the main trail. It would be faster of course coming down. So the time saved with the shortcut is negligible. I have made that observation over the years trying various "shortcuts."

4:35 - Arrive at the shortcut junction south of summit 2760. The route heads directly down an old, steep firebreak to intersect the main trail. Again, this is a situation where the distance is much shorter than taking the main trail, but is it actually time-efficient? I go for it. This short cut is quite steep with precarious footing. It takes me 15 minutes to reach the main trail. It took me 36 minutes ascending from here to the upper junction on the main trail. Probably could have done it in 25 coming down, so I saved maybe 10 minutes.

Poop-Out Trail, the easy partContinue down the trail. The warm late-afternoon lights makes for nice photos. I arrive at Upper Mystic Trail junction at 5:13. Rather than returning via Little Dalton Canyon, my plan now is to descend the ridge via Poop-Out Trail. I know this is indeed a short cut, particularly with all the creek crossings in the canyon. I put on my fleece and gloves and begin my descent. Blue dicks and showy penstemon add to my blooming plant sightings for the day. The first half of the trial is pretty decent, but then it becomes crazy steep. The going is slow. I take a shot of the sun dipping out of sight at 5:43.

5:51 - Finish the hike, sort of. Poop-Out Trail deposits me at the intersection of GMR and Big Dalton Canyon Road, 0.8 mile from my car. I saunter slowly up the road, snack on trail mix, and reflect on a thoroughly enjoyable outing. icon

See Hike Description at Dan’s Hiking Pages
(Detailed trail guide includes driving directions, recommended season, map, notes, links, and photos): Mystic Canyon Trail & Lower Monroe Road to Summit 2760 and Summit 3397 (via Big Dalton Canyon)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Glendora Mountain Hike - February 20, 2011

Glendora Mountain, Angeles National Forest
A big storm beginning the third and final month of winter dumped tons of snow on our mountains this weekend dropping below the 3,000-foot level. So when I arose and saw the sunshine, blue skies, fluffy white clouds, and snow on the nearby mountain slopes, I knew I had to head into the mountains. I wasn’t sure where I would hike, but I figured I’d jump on Hwy 39 and head up the canyon to see where I would end up.

Morris Dam, San Gabriel Canyon, Angeles National Forest
11:30 AM - Leave my house in Azusa and head north on Hwy 39 into San Gabriel Canyon. The beauty of the day and surrounding scenery captivates me. I open the sunroof to experience the brisk air. Lots of water in Morris Reservoir but not over the spillway. Across the canyon to the east I see snow on Glendora Mountain (3322’) View northeast toward Glendora Mountain from Hwy 39 in San Gabriel Canyon and Morris Reservoir, Angeles National Forest and consider it as a possible destination for today. I stop at turnouts several times en route and take pics. Billowing white and gray clouds loom over the high country.

11:59 - Reach East Fork Road and turn right (east), crossing the bridge. San Gabriel Canyon East Fork and San Gabriel Reservoir, Angeles National Forest Lots of water backed up behind San Gabriel Dam and under the bridge. Continue to stop and take pictures along the way. Photograph the white blossoms of hoary-leaved ceanothus; Hoary-leaved ceanothus (Ceanothus crassifolius) along East Fork San Gabriel River, Angeles National Forest Hoary-leaved ceanothus (Ceanothus crassifolius) along East Fork San Gabriel River, Angeles National Forest the blooming shrub covers the mountainsides. The river is rushing.

View north toward Heaton Flat East Fork San Gabriel River from Shoemaker Canyon Road, Angeles National Forest, February 20, 2011
12:16 - Turn left on Shoemaker Canyon Road and drive the two miles to the trailhead. I love the aromas and beauty after a storm. It’s 48 degrees but feels colder. The Heaton Flat parking lot looks full in the canyon below. I drive back to East Fork Road and turn left (east) and head to the Heaton Flat parking lot. It is completely full and cars are parked down the road. Where are all these people hiking to? The Bridge to Nowhere? I sure wouldn’t do it in this weather. Maybe they are prospecting. Clouds are threatening. Continue on my way.

View northwest toward Mount Islip from Glendora Mountain Road, Angeles National Forest, February 20, 2011
12:56 - Turn left on Glendora Mountain Road (GMR) and begin my ascent southwest into mountainsides dusted with snow. Wow, it’s beautiful here. Stop occasionally to take pictures. Make a snowball.

1:18 - Reach Glendora Ridge Road junction at the ridgeline and stop to enjoy the vistas with others. Back in the car, I head west on GMR.

Glendora Mountain topo map
1:38 - Arrive at the trailhead for Glendora Mountain (road marker 6.50), on a narrow ridge dividing Little Dalton Canyon to the south and Persinger Canyon to the north (a tributary of San Gabriel Canyon). The car thermometer reads 43 degrees, but it feels warmer than when it read 48. I haven’t hiked to this summit since 2001 so am eager to revisit it.

Glendora Mountain Hike

View northwest toward Glendora Mountain Road and San Gabriel Canyon from Glendora Mountain ridge, Angeles National Forest, February 20, 2011
1:40 PM - Begin hike. The path starts on the south side of the road and heads west up a firebreak. It’s a bit steep but not bad. A Spanish broom hosts a few yellow blossoms. An inch of melting snow crunches beneath my boots. Fresh coyote tracks mark the route. Coyote tracks en route to Glendora Mountain, Angeles National Forest, February 20, 2011 Brisk air invigorates me. In seven minutes I reach a knob (3311’), the first of about five bumps en route along this undulating ridge. There are a lot of lupine plants along the path, and one eager plant displays its purple flowers in anticipation of spring coming in one month. Lone lupine in bloom on Glendora Mountain ridge, Angeles National Forest, February 20, 2011 Motor vehicles on the road just below contribute to the soundtrack for this hike.

View south toward Glendora Mountain (3322’), Angeles National Forest
The ridge bends to the south and the summit is in view, less than a mile away. Clouds veil 10,000-foot Mt. Baldy to the east, which certainly is buried with snow. San Gabriel and Morris reservoirs soon come to view in the canyon below. I roller-coaster along the ridge now heading south, following the tracts of the coyote. Great views in all directions. The snow gives the scenery a very different feel.

View south from Glendora Mountain (3322’), Angeles National Forest
2:23 - Glendora Mountain (3322’), about 1.0 mile and a total rollercoaster gain of about 378 feet from the start. I enjoy the unobstructed 360-degree panorama. Eastern panorama view from Glendora Mountain (3322’), Angeles National Forest Lots of familiar peaks in view remind me of years of exploring these splendid mountains just above my home. A couple months from now this site will be colored purple with abundant lupine. Patchy clouds cast modeled shadows on the surrounding mountains. No cell reception. Enjoy leafing through the summit log housed in a baggy in a red tin can that is tucked in a pile of rocks. The last visitor was here two days ago and noted that it was raining. This peak doesn’t get many visitors and most of them have not been standing here in snow. Well, it’s getting cold and the clouds are threatening to dump something on me.

View north from Glendora Mountain (3322’), Angeles National Forest
3:00 - Leave Summit. I follow my footprints in the snow and enjoy the snow-covered panorama to the north. My hands are cold but I don’t bother getting out my gloves. The evidence of fire abounds. Reminder of the Sept. 2009 Morris Fire on Glendora Mountain ridge, Angeles National Forest The Morris Fire, which began on August 25, 2009 and burned more than 2,100 acres, was stopped on this ridge from burning further east. It didn’t get much media attention since the Station Fire to the west erupted the next day and went on to incinerate 250 square miles of the San Gabriel Mountains. On the final descent I stop and photograph some more plants. Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia) on Glendora Mountain ridge, Angeles National Forest

3:38 - Finish hike. The car thermometer reads 51 degrees. I drive down the meandering GMR toward Glendora, stopping several times to soak in the picturesque scenery. View southwest from Glendora Mountain Road, Angeles National Forest

Epilog - Another rewarding experience in the San Gabriels! For this outing, the car trip was as much a part of the experience as the hike. I love my mountains! icon

See Hike Description at Dan’s Hiking Pages
(Detailed trail guides include driving directions recommended season, map, notes, links, and photos)
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Monday, February 7, 2011

Marshall Canyon Hike - February 6, 2011

Marshall Canyon TrailSee Marshal Canyon Trail Hike Description on Dan's Hiking Pages

What a delightful romp around Marshall Canyon Trail on a beautiful Sunday. Many parts of the nation are being hammered with snow, and we’re enjoying lots of sunshine and temps in the 70s.

I first discovered Marshall Canyon last March and enjoyed exploring its web of trails on two consecutive weekends. I got to work writing a hike description for Marshall Canyon but the project got put on the back burner. So now with beautiful weather and green hillsides, I figured it was time to revisit the hike and complete the write-up.

Descending south on Marshall Canyon TrailI leave the house at 7:38 a.m. for the 13-mile drive from Azusa to La Verne. It’s 48 degrees. I arrive at the big parking lot on Stephens Ranch Road. There are eight cars in the lot. It’s now 55 degrees. With map and trail guide in hand, my intent is the walk the route I have written up to check details and accuracy. I start the hike at 8:10 and descend the trail heading south into Marshall Canyon. The sky is blue, the sun is bright, the grass is green, and the aroma of the morning chaparral is pleasant. A haze mutes the distant visibility. Soon I’m covered with a canopy of oaks and serenaded by a sparking stream. The little white flowers of wild cumber are the first blooms en route.

8:32 - Reach the first junction and encounter my first contact with others...several walkers and several bikers. Turn left (east), cross the creek and begin an ascent. In a few minutes I reach the large flat clearing on a low ridge that separates Marshal Canyon and Live Oak Canyon. Walkers and bikers are coming and going. I continue east. A eucalyptus tree buzzes with bees. The trail bends north and parallels the east fence of the equestrian facility. I snap a pic of a purple nightshade, my second flower en route.

8:52 - Arrive at junction where a hard right would take me on a lower trail downstream to the equestrian center on Esperanza Drive and Golden Hills Road. I bear left and continue upstream enjoying a beautiful wooded setting with the pleasant melody of the creek below. Bare sycamores stranding amidst a carpet of brown leaves remind me that it is winter. Bikers whisk by me often.

Sweeping views9:04 - Hit a junction marked by a huge patch of poison oak directly in front of me with a sign describing the toxic plant. Either direction will take me on a large loop, but for this hike, I turn right (east). In couple minutes I cross the creek, veer left and begin a meandering climb up the east side of Live Oak Canyon. The views open up nicely to the valleys beyond. Take pics of pearly everlasting and orange monkey flower. Very few flowers in bloom. After climbing about 400 vertical feet I reach an upper ridge with a sweeping panorama. I turn left (east) and follow the road as it ascends to a high point. A lone bicyclist rests on the summit but soon is joined by a bunch more. The warm sun feels good. Snow-capped Ontario Peak peeks above the hills to the east. Sunset Ridge and the Angeles National Forest loom to the north.

9:52 - Reach a junction with a narrow trail cutting northwest back into the canyon. This is a trial I have not yet hiked, so one of my intents for this hike is to break from the trail description to check it out. The slope blocks the sun. Fern and vivid green moss accent the route. Currant displays its small, white blooms. Two switchbacks aid the descent. Near the bottom, the creek provides a pleasant soundtrack.

Nice spot to rest on Marshall Canyon Trail10:13 - Arrive at the main road. Sitting at the picnic table, I have a bite to eat while studying my map and notes. It’s peaceful here, expect for the frequent bicyclists racing past. I have found that cyclists and equestrians tend to be noisier than hikers. Their loud voices break the tranquility of this beautiful setting. There is a narrow trail heading east up canyon that begins by roughly paralleling the one I just came down. I’ve not yet hike that one either, so my plan is to check it out. Hit the trail at 10:38. It climbs a ridge that separates two creeks. Soon I emerge from the canopy of oak to sun-soaked chaparral. Views to the valleys below open up to the west.

View west into Live Oak Canyon10:56 - Reach the road. Another objective of this hike is to explore the old pack trail that starts from here and climbs 1,300 feet to Sunset Ridge. So up I climb. The route at first is in reasonable condition. Several places are quite steep and slippery. After about 15 minutes of climbing, I decide it’s time to turn around. I don’t know if the route is doable all the way to Sunset Ridge, but it would at least require some earnest bushwhacking and precarious climbing.

11:34 - Back to the road, I continue east on familiar territory, reverse of the hike description. Pass a sign, “You are now entering Claremont Hills Regional Park.” At 11:45 I arrive at the junction of Cobal and Johnson Moterways. I decide to go straight and see what the route holds, at least for a bit. After six minutes the road begins to descend quite steeply, so that’s as far as I go for this trip. Back at the junction I turn left and continue my ascent southwest. Nice views out over the Claremont foothills and beyond.

The lookout12:06 - Arrive at the lookout site, a nice, covered rest area with two benches and sweeping vistas. I relax in the shade, have some lunch, call the wife, and enjoy the pleasant breezes and splendid scenery. Snow-capped San Jacinto and San Gorgonio dominate the distant eastern horizon. Less than three and a half hours to Super Bowl kick off, so I must go. Hit the trail at 12:40 and retrace my steps east and then west. I move at good pace now. Three minutes to the Johnson/Cobal junction and another nine minutes to the junction where I came up. I continue down the road. In two minutes I pass the picnic area. The road contours along the north face of the canyon in full sun.

Equestrians enjoy the trails in Marshall Canyon1:07 - Transition from the road to a narrow trail dropping into the canon to bypass a section of road. Poison oak is abundant. Four horseback riders pass. In seven minutes I reach the road again and in two more minutes reach my earlier junction with the picnic table. I’m really enjoying the beauty of my surroundings. As the canyon narrows I get glimpses of the stream as it gurgles below me. The route contours along in mixed shade and sun as the canyon opens. After a point where the road bends back to the northwest, I take a left at the junction and in a few more minutes I reach another junction about 75 yards short of my 9:04 location. Not wanting to retrace the lower section, I turn right, briefly climb to the entrance of the equestrian facilities, continue straight to the parking lot, and reach my car at 2:00.

Epilog - I really enjoyed this hike with its varied scenery, amazingly beautiful weather, green grass, splendid views, flowing streams, and pleasant breezes. I’m eager to get home to finish publishing the hike description in hopes that others can enjoy the treasures of Marshall Canyon Trail. icon

See Marshal Canyon Trail Hike Description on Dan's Hiking Pages