Friday, January 1, 2016
It’s great to start the new year with a hike. The theme of today’s Rose Parade in Pasadena is “Find Your Adventure,” so rather than sitting passively and watching the parade, I went to find an adventure. Standing predominantly over Azusa near the mouth of the San Gabriel Canyon, Summit 2843 is one of my favorite local peaks. I’ve climbed it a half dozen times and each outing is unique. Today’s plan is to climb it from a route I’ve not hiked before: straight up the steep east ridge. I’ve looked at it from various vantage points and studied the maps and aerials, and I’ve seen that others have used the route (at least partially) and posted the GPS tracks to Peakbagger.com. From the aerials, it’s evident that there is a clearly defined route, but it’s quite steep. So I’m psyched up for an earnest climb.
I arrive at the trailhead for Silver Fish Fire Road (2N28) adjacent to Morris Reservoir on Hwy 39 in San Gabriel Canyon. II don’t display an Adventure Pass since I understand that the courts have ruled that the Forest Service can require the pass only for areas where there are guest amenities, like restroom and tables. But the rules are still confusing and in dispute, and of course the FS is as clear as mud on the issue. There is a pick-up truck parked here. It’s 51 degrees.
It’s steep and a little brushy in places. A California everlasting greets me with its creamy white flowers as the first plant in bloom today. In a few minutes I reach the ascending/descending hogback ridge where I’ll be spending the rest of my climb. The route veers right onto the ridge. After the first steep scramble I reach a water district benchmark. I’m treated with expanding views of the lower San Gabriel Canyon blanketed with thick, scruffy chaparral. It’s quite peaceful aside from vehicle noise on Hwy 39 below. The path is steep and I take my time. The warm sun feels good.
It’s fading and difficult to read (later on the news I learned they were messages blasting Donald Trump: “America is Great! Trump is Disgusting,” “Anybody but Trump” and “Iowans Dump Trump”…I’ll let the political blogs opine on that).
I carefully place each step. A slip would have dire consequences. It takes me about six minutes to safely negotiate this section. This was actually too unsafe for my comfort zone as a solo hiker, but there was no way around it. Having poles would have really helped. I decide that I’m not going to return via this route; there are too many steep sections and descending would be tedious and risky, particularly without poles. Another four minutes and one more steep section bring me to the old road.
GPS tracks on Peakbagger.com for trips to Silver Mountain (I really don’t know why they would take that route rather than the standard route I describe in my Summit 2843 trail guide).
I’m enjoying the fresh air, sunshine, rugged scenery, and solitude…sure is different from fighting the masses in Pasadena on this New Year’s Day. Vehicle noise from Hwy 39 is virtually silent now. There are fresh deer tracks. I’m surprised to find frost in the shade. I’m eager as I near the top.
I meander up the broad ridge and soak in the expansive scenery. On the upper ridge, buckwheat encroaches into the route; I’m glad I’m wearing long pants. I reflect on my various hikes up this ridge since my first ascent in May 2004 with my buddy Drew (Gosh, I didn’t even think about hiking it in 2014 to celebrate 10 years! Maybe I need to plan 20-year anniversary hikes this year to Mt. Lowe, Hoegees Trail Camp, and Switzer Falls).
The 360-degree panorama is stellar. The mighty San Gabriels fill the northern panorama. The vast human habitation of the L.A. Basin sprawls the southern panorama, muted somewhat by haze. Catalina Island stretches along the distant horizon. The weather is fantastic for New Year’s Day. I take pictures, post to Facebook, and have a bite to eat.
Water Canyon lies below my feet to the east. After a few minutes of taking pictures and scoping things out, I turn hard right and head southeast on the old fire road. It’s in good shape and my walk is pleasant. There’s lots of frost in the deep shade. Single occurrences of bush sunflower, bush monkey flower, and golden yarrow add yellow highlight to the winter landscape. Behind me Silver Mountain rises sharply into the blue sky.
A little further along I reach the section that was washed out in the 2005 storms. A narrow path climbs up and over the slide. It has deteriorated some since I last hiked it 11 months ago. The footing is loose and a slip would be grave. I negotiate it without incident. I continue along. Across San Gabriel Canyon to the east, the golden-hour sun saturates the mountainside.
3:47 - End hike. The car thermometer reads 48 degrees.
Epilog - What a pleasant hike! Fresh air, blue skies, comfortable temperatures, sunshine, rugged scenery, solitude, healthy exercise, a new adventure, and a beloved peak...a great way to begin the new year. Life is good.
See Summit 2843 hike description on Dan’s Hiking Pages
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