The barren, ashy landscape is surreal. There is almost a beauty to it in a Tim Burton kind of way. The only life is a fresh anthill.
A lone blossom stalk of a yucca juts into the sky, strangely untouched by the fire. As I round the outward bend by the first water tank, the pinkish-red Phos-Chek fire retardant covers the ground. Tons of it was dropped by aircraft during the first day of the fire. The top of the water tank is now Phos-Chek red. Typically much of my attention while hiking is on the plant life and photographing flowers. It’s so bizarre to walk through a lifeless moonscape. The last of the day’s sun lingers on distant Mount Baldy and neighboring peaks to the east. Huge power towers stand gangly against the azure sky.
The scene is haunting. I should be overwhelmed with sadness over the loss of the rich chaparral that blanketed these slopes. But I feel at peace…kind of a melancholy contentment.
7:57 - Power towers, but there is no more retaining wall. The last sunlight sits upon Mount Baldy. I decide to continue up a little more. Deep in the canyons below some trees may have survived the inferno. I pass through a section of road that was previously lined with beautiful pines. They are dead now.
I now have a view southwest over the San Gabriel Valley as dusk falls and lights begin to twinkle. An orange band of haze outlines the horizon. It’s peaceful here. I linger for a few minutes and soak in the beauty of nightfall. At 8:15 I head down. I’m tempted to tangent up a slope to achieve a summit, but I decide to not trample bare earth by going off trail. As I reach the power towers, I scramble up to the tower on the high point to enjoy the vistas. It’s almost dark now and the human sprawl is a blanket of lights. The ambient light is sufficient for my steps. The temperature is quite pleasant.
9:56 - End hike. My feet are filthy from miles of dusty road. Good for 4.4 miles round trip, 1,540 feet in elevation gain, and 13,969 steps on my Fitbit (normally it’s about 2,000 steps per miles walking; this turned out to be 3,174 steps per mile…so really short steps!).
See Mt. Bliss hike description at Dan's Hiking Pages
See Mt. Bliss hike photo album - 8-14-11