Sunday, March 24, 2013

Garcia Trail to Azusa Peak Hike – March 24, 2013

Azusa Peak
See Garcia Trail Description on Dan's Hiking Pages

The first weekend of spring and beautiful weather calls for a hike! With limited time available, I opt for a sunrise hike on Garcia Trail, my number-one scrappy hike.

I rise early Sunday morning and take the five-minute drive to the trailhead in Azusa. Even though the popularity of the trail has been growing, I’m surprised to find so many cars parked along the street, nearly 40. The temperature is brisk. As I walk up the street toward the trailhead, the sun emerges over the eastern horizon.

Looking south toward Azusa from Garica Trail
7:07 a.m. - Begin hike. I quickly concede that I’ll be sharing the trail with lots of others. I ponder if I should try to stay ahead of a group of noisy ladies or let them pass. I stop to photograph a flower and realize that it’s better to let the ladies pass rather than feeling rushed. The warm light of the sun begins to illuminate the human sprawl below. A light marine layer mutes the distant visibility. I think of Christians arising for Palm Sunday services throughout the valley.

Wishbone bush on Garcia Trail
It’s spring but there are not a lot of flowers in bloom yet. I endeavor to snap shots of the blossoms of each species in bloom: moth mullein, nightshade, mustard, fountain grass, stinging lupine, brittlebush, blue dicks, wild Canterbury bells, phacelia, everlasting, morning glory (still struggling to show its glory), wishbone bush, lupine (tiny leaves), coastal lotus, bush sunflower, hollyleaf cherry, and filaree.

View southwest from Garcia Trail
I am enjoying the freshness of the morning as I climb steadily higher through the rich chaparral. There are sure a lot of people on the trail today! I run into my friends Frank and Mary and we enjoy chatting for a few minutes. My pace is slow as I soak in the beauty and continue to photograph flowers and scenery. At 8:07 I reach Glendora Ridge Motorway. I look north across San Gabriel Canyon to Summit 2843 where I was a month ago. That’s the hike for solitude. I turn east for the final, steep pitch to the top.

Looking southeast from Azusa Peak (2081')
8:16 - Azusa Peak (2081’). About 20 people are on the summit in several parties, accentuating the crowded feel of the hike. The large, white cross is a fitting symbol for the beginning of Passion Week. The sun is bright and warm. The wild grass is still green but is showing signs that it will turn brown earlier this year due to lower-than-normal rainfall. People come and go.

Baby blue-eyes among the lush vegation on the north slop of Azusa Peak
I leave the peak at 8:32 and head east for an alternate route and some relief from the crowds. A four minute-walk delivers me to the fire road. I turn left (west) and traverse along the north flank of the peak. It’s quite lush with fern, poison oak, and various other green plants under a canopy of majestic live oak. I add to my flower photos: miner’s lettuce, Pacific pea, baby blue-eyes, and wild cucumber. The peaceful solitude is broken by a gaggle of females with incessant, loud jabber. I arrive back at the trail junction at 8:44 and begin my descent on Garcia Trail.

Foot traffic on Garcia Trail
I capture more flower images in different lighting and find a few blooming species that I missed earlier: lemonadeberry, common sunflower, clematis, and tree tobacco. The morning glories are now showing their glory. An abundance of foot-traffic continues to dominate the story of today’s outing. But I take delight in seeing people enjoy the great outdoors, especially families with young children. There is an eclectic mix of humanity today, and as a middle-aged white guy wearing hiking gear, I am very much the minority.

Common sunflower on Garcia Trail
9:32 - End hike. The number of cars parked along the road has swollen to probably more the 100.

Epilog - What an enjoyable outing to celebrate the first weekend of spring! Lovely weather, warm sunshine, blooming flowers, green grass, rugged scenery, a splendid trail, and a beloved peak, are all reasons to be thankful. icon

See blog post for last hike on Garcia Trail: June 17, 2012

See Garcia Trail Description on Dan's Hiking Pages