It’s uncommon to have back-to-back Rain Years with 20+ inches of rain in Los Angeles. During Rain Year 2022-2023, Downtown Los Angeles (USC) recorded 28.4 inches of rain — about two times normal. This rain year Los Angeles has already had about 21 inches of rain, so another big year is in progress.
Curious to see how the trail conditions compare to last year, on February 17th and 25th I ran the Trippet Ranch Loop in Topanga State Park.
The big surprise was that the fire roads on the loop — Fire Road #30, Eagle Springs Fire Road, and a short section of Eagle Rock Fire Road — generally fared better than last year. Fire Road #30 had some damage along it’s shoulder, but I did not see the numerous mudslides along these roads like last year.
The news on the trails was divided. One of the more unusual events occurred where the Garapito Trail crosses the east fork of Garapito Creek. A mudslide from a gully on the northwest side of the creek crossed the creek, and left a pile of debris on the trail. The stream may have been dammed by mud and debris for a short time. Farther up the trail, about a half-mile from Eagle Rock Fire Road, a section of the trail collapsed in a slide.
The Backbone Trail between Encinal Canyon and Mishe Mokwa is one of the must-do sections of the 68-mile trail. Engineered to be multi-use, this exceptionally scenic stretch of the Backbone Trail is popular with riders, hikers, and runners alike.
The out & back run worked out to about 21-miles, with a surprisingly moderate gain/loss of about 2500′. The weather and visibility were excellent. Striking rock formations and the Channel Islands could be seen from one side of Etz Meloy Mtwy fire road, and snow on Alamo Mountain and other Ventura County peaks from the other side.
On the way back, as I was working up the long hill on the northwest side of Triunfo Lookout, a descending mountain biker commented that a large group of bikers were at “the corner.” The overlook at this prominent switchback has a wide-ranging view of Mishe Mokwa, Boney Mountain, and Sandstone Peak, and some prefer to turn around here. This variation is about 3.5 miles shorter (round-trip) than dropping down into the canyon and going all the way to Mishe Mokwa.
Over the first six days of February 2024, Downtown Los Angeles recorded 10.2 inches of rain. That’s almost three-quarters of L.A.’s normal ANNUAL rainfall in just a few days and the wettest start to February on record! Some stations in the Santa Monica and San Gabriel Mountains recorded even more — over 13 inches in some locations!
How much did it rain at Ahmanson Ranch (Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve)? Unfortunately the Remote Automated Weather Station (RAWS) on a hill between Upper Las Virgenes Canyon and Cheeseboro Canyon hasn’t been accurately measuring precipitation. A citizen weather station (KCAWOODL130) near the Victory Trailhead at Ahmanson Ranch recorded over 11 inches from February 1 – 6. Another station near Cheeseboro Road in Agoura (KCAAGOUR41) recorded over 9 inches.
The Temescal Canyon “waterfall” is an immensely popular cascade, most often accessed from Temescal Gateway Park using the Temescal Canyon Trail. Judging from the number of people on the trail, a loop incorporating the Temescal Canyon and Temescal Ridge Trails is also very popular.
Even though many refer to it as a waterfall, it’s not a dramatic river-wide fall, such as Nevada Fall in Yosemite. Picture a Japanese garden with a gurgling little stream, cascading down through rocks into a pool, surrounded by an artistic arrangement of plants and trees. There’s even the requisite bridge to complete the composition. It would be meditative if it were not so popular.
The out-and-back route from the Top of Reseda was one of those “I’ll just go a little bit farther” runs. It had rained the day before and the NWS forecast called for a chance of showers in the morning and then showers likely in the afternoon.
With the weather unsettled, I didn’t have a particular plan in mind. When I started the run, it looked like it might rain at any time, so I decided to run to Temescal Peak, and then play it by ear from there. Once on Temescal Peak, the weather seemed to be holding, so I continued to Temescal Lookout. From the Lookout, Green Peak was just a “little bit further,” and in a few minutes, I was standing on top.
I continued to be drawn down Temescal Ridge in this fashion, and before I knew it was at the junction of the Temescal Ridge and Temescal Canyon Trails. From there, it was only a half-mile down to the cascade.
Two weeks later, I was back at the Top of Reseda. It had rained an inch and a half in Downtown Los Angeles a couple of days before, and a well-advertised multi-day rain event was forecast to begin the following day.
The previous weekend, a friend and I had climbed/run to Sandstone Peak from Wendy Drive. Temps in the sun reached into the 80s, and maybe I talked too much and ate and drank too little. On the way back, I hit the wall near the turn onto the Upper Sycamore Trail.
This morning, I had no idea how my legs were going to feel. My loosely defined plan was to run out the Rogers Road segment of the Backbone Trail from the Top of Reseda and see. If the legs held up, I’d continue to Will Rogers State Historic Park. If not, maybe I’d do Goat Peak or something else.
The temperature was in the 40s most of the way down to Will Rogers. With the cool weather, it seemed my running was back to normal. From Will Rogers, I headed over to Rivas Canyon, where I found Sierra Club volunteers hard at work on the Rivas Canyon Trail. This enjoyable trail links Will Rogers to Temescal Canyon and is a key part of the loop.
Once down in Temescal Canyon, there was a constant stream of hikers going up the Temescal Canyon Trail to the cascade. With the recent rain and good weather, the cascade had more water and more people than on the run in January. A large group rested near the bridge, and hikers hustled and bustled up and down the trail. The little cascade gurgled and burbled in the morning sun, glistening bubbles popping up beneath the plunging stream and then disappearing as they wandered downstream.
Soon, I was chugging up the trail toward its junction with the Temescal Ridge Trail, retracing my steps from two weeks before.