Sunday, January 29, 2012

Garcia Trail to Glendora Peak - January 29, 2012

View east from Azusa Peak Toward Glendora PeakSee Garcia Trail Description on Dan's Hiking Pages

Rarely do I hike twice in one weekend, but Sunday was another gorgeous day. I couldn’t resist. Yesterday’s hike to Monrovia Canyon Falls was enjoyable, but weather like this calls for climbing a peak. So I arose early and headed to Garcia Trail, my de facto scrappy hike, five minutes from my home in Azusa.

7:05 - Begin hike. The thermometer says 47 degrees, but it seems warmer than that. The sun is barely above the eastern horizon and casting a warm light. I soon take off my long sleeves. Lots of people on the trail today. I run into my friend Art, a fellow Azusian. There is not much in bloom. The Santa Ana winds have cleaned up the air making good visibility. I climb steadily and enjoy the beauty of the day. I reach the ridge and Glendora Ridge Motorway at 7:43, turn east, and head to the summit. Six guys in sleeping bags are camped out on the water collection slab.

Looking south from Azusa Peak7:50 - Azusa Peak (2081’). Three young ladies are sitting separately and quietly reading. A man, a young girl, and a dog sit on the bench. It’s peaceful here. The wooden cross has been repainted white sometime since January 1. I snap a few pics and leave the summit at 7:54 heading east.

I have no specific plan for the hike, but I have to be home by 10:00. I figured I’d wander up the road a bit. There is a slight breeze. There is virtually no snow visible on the high country to the north and east. At 8:07 I decide to veer right onto the use path that climbs the broad ridge east toward Glendora Peak. It starts gently but then gets steep as it approaches the summit. The weedy grasses are low and green and pose no problems.

View west from Glendora Peak toward Azusa Peak8:24 - Glendora Peak (2596’). The large round summit provides commanding views, but they are partially obscured by vegetation on the north and south. I’ve hiked here numerous times over the years. It offers a nice five-mile round trip with 1,800 in elevation gain starting from Garcia Trail trailhead. It’s a convenient conditioning hike for me. There are two primary routes to this peak. The other climbs a short distance (3 minutes) from the east from Glendora Ridge Motorway.

View west from the flank of Glendora PeakI post a photo to FB and leave the peak at 8:46, retracing my steps. I meet a man named George. He says he has seen mountain lions eight times in this area. I reach the road at 9:04 just as George catches me. We walk together and talk hiking. He completed the Sierra Club Hundred Peaks Section list last year. Quite commendable! We transition to Garcia Trail at 9:15. Lot of people lingering about (for many, this is their destination, without making the final climb to Azusa Peak). After a few minutes I say goodbye to George and slow down a little. The warm sun feels good. Excellent visibility today. Lots of people on the trail: young, old, large, small, couples, solos, groups, families, dog walkers, runners, and out-of-shape folks who are barely dragging themselves up the trail. At “Razor Ridge” a Boy Scout troop from West Covina stands resting. I hear the leader polling the boys to see if they want to abort the hike. That seems odd to me...quitting with less then a quarter mile into the hike. Run into Barbara, an old friend from our CFC days.

9:53 - End hike. The thermometer reads 67 degrees, but it feels warmer.

Survey marker on Glendora PeakEpilog - What a blessing to have such a splendid trail so close to home! Gorgeous weather! I get satisfaction out of seeing so many people enjoying the outdoors. And as is typical, heading east from Azusa Peak almost always offers a degree of solitude and serenity. icon

See Garcia Trail Description on Dan's Hiking Pages

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Monrovia Canyon Falls Hike - January 28, 2012

Monrovia Canyon FallsSee Monrovia Canyon Falls Description on Dan's Hiking Pages

The forecast of gorgeous weather and a few weeks off from hiking demanded that I hit the trail today. A full plate for the weekend meant a hike close and short. The clear visibility suggested a peak but I decided on beautiful Monrovia Canyon. It’s been a couple years so I was eager to return to one of my favorite waterfall hikes.

After a 15-minute drive from Azusa to Monrovia, I park on Canyon Drive just south of Ridgeside Drive. I park here to avoid the $5 parking fee in the park. There are a few cars.

7:10 - Begin hike. It’s a brisk 47 degrees. In a few minutes I reach the park gate and am surprised to see it open. The sign indicates that the park opens at 7 a.m. on weekends. It used to be 8 a.m. I continue the half mile up the road to the park entrance. Chat with entrance station attendant.

Bill Cull Trail, Monrovia Canyon7:25 - Begin on Bill Cull Trail. The narrow, well-traveled trail climbs through rich chaparral. I love the early morning. The sun lands on the ridge tops and the valley below. The morning aroma is pleasant. The nice rain last Monday certainly aided the greening up of the vegetation. The deciduous trees and shrubs like big leaf maple, sycamore, alder, and poison oak are mostly leafless. There is not much in bloom...a lone wallflower, some everlasting, wild cucumber, wishbone bush. Views over the canyon open up. A gentleman passes me heading up the trail at a little faster pace. Soon a lady passes me. I cross the creek and switch back southeast. A couple ladies pass me going the other direction.

Check dam in Monrovia Canyon7:44 - Falls Trail junction. Turn left and head north up canyon. Two ladies are not far behind me. Their incessant, loud jabber spoils the quietness of the setting. In a couple minutes I pass the first of five “Lincoln log” check dams. The evergreen leaves of oak and bay stand in contrast to the leafless deciduous trees. There is such a beauty to this canyon. The park staff and volunteers do a great job in maintain the trail and keeping the park nice. At 1.7 miles from the entrance station, the canyon narrows as I approach the falls. A group of five is leaving.

Monrovia Canyon Falls8:02 - Monrovia Canyon Falls. I’m the only one here. It’s a peaceful setting but I know the solitude won’t last for long. The falls are flowing nicely, tumbling 30 feet in two tiers. A sign has been posted prohibiting climbing the rock faces and falls. After a couple minutes the noisy ladies arrive and turn the site into their gym. More people arrive. More loud voices. I don’t linger long. Leave the falls at 8:14.

Monrovia CanyonMy stroll back is leisurely and mostly peaceful, interrupted occasionally by noisy-voiced people heading to the falls. At the junction I veer left and take the two-minute walk to the nature center. The grassy picnic area is serene. Early morning sun filters through the trees. There is no one here. I look around. The last time I was here there were deer grazing, but none today. I linger about 15 minutes then head back down the trail. When I reach the Bill Cull Trail junction I continue on the main trail for another few minutes to the road and the middle trailhead. I retrace my steps to Bill Cull Trail junction for my return. People traffic is increasing. I’m now in full sun with expanding views over the canyon.

Monrovia Canyon9:17 - Arrive at junction of a trail that heads northwest. I’ve been on that trail before coming over from Clamshell Truck Road from the west (August 2006). It’s fenced off now and a sign reads, “Do Not Enter, Restricted Area.” Another sign says, “Closed for re-vegetation.” This area has not burned in years and the native chaparral is healthy and robust. There is no need to re-vegetate. Somebody is not being truthful here. I’ll take the 5th regarding what I did for the next 40 minutes.

Monrovia Canyon Park Enterance10:03 - Bill Cull Trail trailhead. I talk with a park employee about the “restricted area” and he says that they are studying the area for the visibility for a trail. After using the restroom I asked another park employee about the current condition of Ben Overturf Trail to Deer Park. He said it was excellent. They’ve been doing a lot of work on it. It’s been 16 years since I hiked it. I keep thinking I should do a write-up on it but it has not had a strong enough pull to get me back. I guess I’m more drawn to peaks and waterfalls. I leave the entrance station at 10:16 and walk the road back to the car, enjoying the sunshine and the beauty of the day.

10:30 - End hike at car. The temperature is 77 degrees.

WallflowerEpilog - Very enjoyable outing. Despite some obnoxiously loud people, the beauty of the canyon, the crispness of the early morning, green plants, flowing water, flowers, warm sunshine, blue sky, and good exercise makes for a splendid hike. icon

See Monrovia Canyon Falls Description on Dan's Hiking Pages

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Garcia Trail to Azusa Peak Hike – January 1, 2012

Sunset from Garcia TrailSee Garcia Trail Description on Dan's Hiking Pages

Gorgeous weather in So Cal calls for a New Year’s Day hike. The temps were unseasonably warm, so I decided on a late afternoon hike to my beloved Azusa Peak via Garcia Trail. It didn’t really feel like New Year’s to me, since the Rose Parade will be held on January 2 this year because New Year’s falls on a Sunday. I drove the five minutes from my house to the trailhead. The thermometer reads 84 degrees.

Garcia Trail3:00 PM - Begin hike. The sun is really quite warm. It’s not rained in a while so the trail is dusty. The air is clear and the views are great. Lots of people are on the trail but I still can enjoy a sense of solitude. There is virtually nothing in bloom. I stop to photograph the tiny wild cucumber blossom and the little purple wishbone bush flower. I try to think philosophically about the new year but my mind drifts to plants, fresh air, blue sky, splendid views, and the simple joy of just hiking. I reach the ridge at 3:40. There is not much snow left on the high county mountains. I turn right (east) for the final climb. Someone painted “Jesus Saves” on the side of the water collection slab. That is a two-word truth I agree with, but I don’t suspect that Jesus would condone the practice of defacing property.

Asusa Peak3:50 - Azusa Peak (2081’). I love this site. I’m the only one here right now so I savor a few minutes of solitude as I sit on the new bench. It’s peaceful. A gentle breeze feels good. The wooden cross is constantly changing with its hodgepodge of graffiti. The muted din of city noise accompanies the panorama of human sprawl. I post a pic on Facebook. Others arrive.

I leave the summit at 4:20 and retrace my steps. The sun reflects off the ocean. The late afternoon lighting is warm. People are still coming and going. I’m enjoying the beauty of the day. I think about my hike on June 21—the first day of summer—where the sun set behind the mountains to the west. Today the sun sets far to the south and invites me to photograph the first sunset of 2012. The last sliver of sun dips below the horizon at 4:58. I saunter down the trail as day turns to dusk and a sea of twinkling lights emerges.

On Garcia Trail at dusk5:13 - End hike. The thermometer reads 74 degrees. What a nice way to begin the new year! I am always so thankful for the blessing of being able to hike. icon

See Garcia Trail Description on Dan's Hiking Pages