Sunset at Sage Ranch Park, a few weeks following the Topanga Fire. The loop at Sage Ranch is about 2.4 miles. My usual route here is an out and back of about 4.5 miles. It’s a good short-day run with an elevation gain/loss of about 700 ft. (Photo from a run on November 14, 2005.)
Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) is an aggressive invasive species not native to California. In Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve (formerly Ahmanson Ranch) it seems to be increasingly abundant, particularly in the aftermath of the Topanga Fire. Last year, in some areas of Upper Las Virgenes Canyon, it grew thick as corn and more than head high.
Lichens are composite lifeforms, usually comprised of a fungus and algae, or a fungus and cynobacterium. Generally, the fungus provides shelter and needed minerals, and the algae, using photosynthesis, provides food. This community is on Chatsworth Formation sandstone at Sage Ranch.
There is a tendency to think of living things, including ourselves, in the singular. But most life is a intertwined assemblage of cooperating organisms, from the very small to the very large, living in harmony. Circle within circle, life within life.
This photograph was taken October 23, 2005, on one of my favorite loops in the San Gabriel Mountains. This adventurous route starts at Islip Saddle, follows the South Fork trail down to South Fork Campground, then takes the Manzanita Trail up to Vincent Gap and the Pacific Crest Trail. From here, the PCT is followed up, and with a slight detour, over Mt. Baden-Powell, and then along the crest of the San Gabriels back to Islip Saddle. It’s a very wild and scenic 23 mile run that covers a wide range of elevations. South Fork Campground is at 4,560 ft., and the summit of Baden-Powell is at 9399 ft. Total elevation gain and loss on the run is well over 5000 ft.
This year, it might make more sense to start this loop at Vincent Gap. In order to protect critical habitat of the mountain yellow-legged frog, the Forest Service has closed 1,000 acres in the upper Little Rock Creek drainage, including Williamson Rock, and the PCT between Eagle’s Roost and the Burkhart Trail. In addition, Angeles Crest Highway (SR2) is now closed at Cedar Springs, just west of Eagles Roost.
Update May 21, 2009. Angeles Crest Highway (SR2) has since been re-opened to Islip Saddle, and through to Wrightwood.
Ferns along the Garapito Trail, Topanga State Park.
Chaparral has been described as an elfin forest, and there is probably no better trail in the Santa Monica Mountains to see why, than the Garapito Trail. From the fire road near Eagle Rock, the trail seemingly dives into a tunnel of chaparral, and doesn’t emerge until it ends at Temescal Fire Road, some 2.5 miles away.
This day I ran a 12 mile figure-eight course from the end of Reseda to Trippet Ranch via the Hub, and then returned via the Musch, Garapito, and Bent Arrow trails. Fire roads out– trails back. A shorter option goes directly to the Garapito Trail via the Hub, and then returns via the Bent Arrow trail. This is about 7.5 miles. A longer option tacks on an out and back to Parker Mesa at Trippet Ranch.