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Trippet Ranch Loop, Musch and Garapito Trails – February 2024

Mountain bikers at the Hub in Topanga State Park
Mountain bikers at the Hub

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.

Wet and muddy section of the Musch Trail. February 2024. (Thumbnail)
A little mud on the Musch Trail.

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 Musch Trail was very muddy and wet in the usual places. There were a couple of slides along the trail, but all things considered, the trail was in OK shape. The Bent Arrow Trail remains closed as a result of previous storm damage.

Last year, the bloom of bigpod Ceanothus was well underway in early January. This year the bloom began about a month later but is now happening in a big way. Greenbark Ceanothus is also starting to bloom. Some peonies were blooming on an east-facing slope of the Garapito Trail, and a Fuchsia-flowered gooseberry was in bloom near Fire Road #30.

Here are some photos taken on these two runs.

Some related posts:
Popular Trails in Topanga State Park Damaged by Winter Storms
Wettest 14 Months in Los Angeles in 134 Years
Rainy Season Trail Running on the Backbone Trail

Wettest 14 Months in Los Angeles in 134 Years

Los Angeles Basin from Temescal Lookout
Los Angeles Basin from Temescal Lookout

With over 45 inches of rain reported, the 14 months (424 days) ending February 22, 2024, have been the wettest in Downtown Los Angeles in 134 years.

To put this in perspective, this is more than three times the amount Los Angeles would see in a “normal” year.

The wettest 14 months on record for Los Angeles occurred during late December 1888 to early February 1890, when about 47 inches of rain was recorded.

Rainy Season Trail Running on the Backbone Trail

Rock formations below Triunfo Lookout, with the Channel Islands in the distance. From the Etz Meloy section of the Backbone Trail.
The Backbone Trail contours around Triunfo Peak (on the right) above the rock band that extends across the photo. The Channel Islands are in the distance.

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.

Chaparral Currant (Ribes malvaceum) blooming along the Backbone Trail (Thumbnail)
Chaparral Currant

It’s also a pretty good place for a trail run after rainy weather like we’ve had this February. Although the parking lot at the Encinal Trailhead was quite wet this morning, the  Backbone Trail was in decent shape most of the way to the Mishe Mokwa trailhead. There were a few muddy and wet spots, but it was generally easy to work around them. And I didn’t have to change my shoes before driving home.

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.

Here is an interactive, 3D terrain view of my GPS track of the out and back run from Encinal to Mishe Mokwa and an elevation profile of the route.

Some related posts:
Encinal Canyon to Mishe Mokwa Out and Back Trail Run
Kanan to Mishe Mokwa and Back
Kanan to Mishe Mokwa to Wendy Drive
Night Training for the Backbone Ultra

East Las Virgenes Canyon After a Seventh Day of Rain

East Las Virgenes Canyon After a Seventh Day of Rain

A very wet East Las Virgenes Canyon and Trail on February 8, 2024,  following seven days of rain. This was by far the wettest start to February in Los Angeles since recordkeeping began in July 1877.

Related post: Ahmanson Ranch and Upper Las Virgenes Creek After Six Days of Rain

Ahmanson Ranch and Upper Las Virgenes Creek After Six Days of Rain

A female (left) and male mallard enjoying a large puddle adjacent to the Victory Trailhead parking lot.
A female (left) and male mallard enjoying a large puddle adjacent to the Victory Trailhead parking lot at Ahmanson Ranch.

After January 2023’s torrential rains and Hurricane/Tropical Storm Hilary’s drenching in August, here we are again, experiencing record rainfall.

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.

Whatever the amount, it was a lot. Here is a short video, from a run at Ahmanson Ranch on February 7, 2024, to check out the conditions and creeks.

As I write this, more wet weather is forecast to affect the Los Angeles area, beginning sometime over the weekend of February 17-18. We’ll see!

Update Friday, February 16, 2024.  Latest forecast for Los Angeles area suggest the rain may hold off until Sunday night or Monday.

Running to the Temescal Canyon Cascade From the Top of Reseda (Two Ways)

Temescal Canyon Cascade

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.

Cloud-shrouded view northwest from Temescal Peak to the Cathedral Rocks/Hub area. (Thumbnail)
Cloud-shrouded view of the Cathedral Rocks/Hub area.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve run from the Top of Reseda (Marvin Braude Mulholland Gateway Park) to the Temescal Canyon Cascade two ways — a 15-mile out-and-back and a 21-mile loop.

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.

High Point (Goat Peak) from Temescal Ridge. (Thumbnail)
High Point (Goat Peak) from Temescal Ridge.

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.

Scrambling up Boney Mountain's Western Ridge (aka Mountaineer's Route) on an adventure run to Sandstone Peak. (Thumbnail)
Scrambling up Boney Mountain’s Western Ridge

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.

Cootamundra wattle (Acacia baileyana) in Will Rogers State Historic Park. (Thumnbnail)
Cootamundra wattle at Will Rogers.

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.

Cactus and agave along the Rivas Canyon Trail. (Thumbnail)
Cactus and agave along the Rivas Canyon Trail.

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.

Some related posts:
Will Rogers – Rivas Canyon – Temescal Canyon Trail Run
Go Figure: An Extended Version of the Will Rogers – Temescal Canyon Loop
Sandstone Peak from Wendy Drive