Category Archives: trails

Mt. Wilson Area Peaks From Twin Peaks

Mt. Wilson, Occidental Peak, Mt. Markham, San Gabriel Peak, Mt. Disappointment, and Mt. Deception from the summit of Twin Peaks, in the San Gabriel Mountains, near Los Angeles.

Mt. Wilson, Occidental Peak, Mt. Markham, San Gabriel Peak, Mt. Disappointment, and Mt. Deception from the summit of Twin Peaks, in the San Gabriel Mountains.

Mt. Markham (5742′) is the craggy peak along the skyline, just right of the centerline of the photograph. The bump to the left of Mt. Markham is Occidental Peak (5732′). To the right of Mt. Markham is the highest peak in the group, San Gabriel Peak (6161′). To the right of San Gabriel Peak are Mt. Disappointment (5960′), and Mt. Deception (5796′). The indistinct summit of Mt. Wilson (5710′), and the observatory, are on the left.

Guardian of the rugged San Gabriel Wilderness, Twin Peaks (7761′) has an isolated, high mountain feel. Its flanks drop more than 5000 feet to Devils Canyon on the southwest, and Bear Canyon on the southeast.

We climbed Twin Peaks while doing a point to point run from Buckhorn to Three Points. Including the peak, the run/hike was about 13 miles, with an elevation gain of about 3200′. Here’s a Google Earth image and Google Earth KMZ file of a GPS trace of the route.

Related posts: Manzanita Morning, Three Points – Mt. Waterman Loop

Angeles Crest Highway Pavement Replacement

Update May 21, 2009. CalTrans Highway Conditions in California reports Hwy 2 “IS REOPENED FROM ISLIP SADDLE TO 5 MI WEST OF BIG PINES (LOS ANGELES CO) AT 1200 HRS ON 5/20/09.”

Angeles Crest Highway has been closed from Islip Saddle to Vincent Gap since 2005 when runoff, rock slides and avalanches from Winter storms damaged the road.

This section of road is being repaired as part of the larger Angeles Crest Highway (SR-2) Pavement Replacement Project.

Glimpses of the highway from the PCT suggest that much of the closed section has been repaired, resurfaced and re-striped.

The photograph of SR-2 is from Sunday’s Vincent Gap – Little Jimmy Spring Out & Back run.

Related post: PCT Above Windy Gap

Vincent Gap – Little Jimmy Spring Out & Back

Nearing the summit of Mt. Baden-Powell, in the San Gabriel Mountains.

With Southern California in the throes of a record dry year, and temps in the valleys topping 100°F, this San Gabriel Mountains course was a good way to get in a long trail run at a cooler, higher elevation and enjoy some mountain scenery. A big plus was that there would be a source of ice cold spring water at the turnaround point.

Concerned that another usually dependable water source might already be dry, we started our run from Vincent Gap in the wrong direction, headed downhill on the Mazanita Trail. A couple of drainages and about a mile and a half later we were happy to hear — and then see — a diminished, but still gurgling ribbon of water.

In a couple of weeks, I might do the Islip – South Fork – Vincent Gap – Baden-Powell – Islip loop as part of my training for the Mt. Disappointment 50K. With Lamil Spring likely very low, and the connecting segment of Highway 2 closed, the loop would be difficult to do without this key water source.

Soon we were back at Vincent Gap and switch-backing up Mt. Baden-Powell. Even though mountain temps had recently been in the 90’s, today the temperature was comfortably cool. That would be the surprise of the day. Ocean-cooled breezes would keep the mercury in check and make the running along the ridge between Baden-Powell and Little Jimmy almost Spring-like.

Including the extra bit at the start, the run worked out to be about 22 miles, with an elevation gain/loss of over 5000 ft.

Related posts: Snowless San Gabriels, Complications, Heat Wave

Mt. Pinos – Mt. Abel Out & Back

A trail runner nears the summit of Mt.Pinos.

This was my first time back to Mt. Pinos since being caught in a fierce thunderstorm last July. No thunderstorms this time — just wonderful running on the air-conditioned ridge between Mt. Pinos and Mt. Abel.

My route was the same as that described in the post Vincent Tumamait Trail. Here’s a Google Earth image and Google Earth KMZ file of a GPS trace of the route.

Related posts: Thunderstorm, Vincent Tumamait Trail

Mt. Langley in a Day from L.A.

Cirque Peak from Cottonwood Lakes Basin.
Cirque Peak from Cottonwood Lakes Basin

The sky was brightening in the east, and sunrise was approaching when I met Miklos and Krisztina at the Denny’s in Sylmar. We were already wasting light. The plan was to drive from near sea level up to Horseshoe Meadows, at about 10,000′ on the Sierra east side. The hike/run we had in mind was a keyhole loop from the Cottonwood Lakes Trailhead up (old) Army Pass and then down New Army Pass. If we felt OK at the top of Army Pass, we would also do Mt. Langley (14,026′).

The weather forecast looked good. There was a chance of some gusty southwest winds in the afternoon, but temps were warm and there was virtually no chance of T-storms. With a record low Southern Sierra snowpack, there was almost no chance that an ice axe would be required on Army Pass. I was familiar with the route on Langley and down from New Army Pass, and expected to be back to the car well before sunset. But, just in case, the moon was about half full.

Low snow year on Army Pass. June 23, 2007.
Low snow year on Army Pass. June 23, 2007.

In fact, there had been very little snow on Army Pass, or anywhere else. We reached the pass relatively quickly, and decided to continue to Langley. Now, after another hour of hiking, we were above a prominent rock band that extends across Langley’s south face, and making good progress.

I’ve been convinced for some time that pursed-lip breathing helps me at higher altitudes, particularly when I’m not well acclimated. There’s a skill to it. There seems to me an optimum blend of heart rate, respiratory rate, and the amount of resistance created on exhalation. When all these factors are in balance, the breathing technique is almost automatic and effortless, and it really does seem to help. It certainly seemed to be helping me now.

I topped out a few hundred yards west of the summit, and ambled over to the high point of the peak. On a scale of 1 to 10, I felt pretty good — maybe a 7. Making an effort to stay hydrated, consume plenty of calories, and not push the pace too hard seemed to have worked — at least this time.

The view along the crest to Mt. Whitney and the peaks of the Kings-Kern Divide was telling. It was remarkable just how little snow there was at the highest elevations of the Sierra. A week before I had been paddling the Kern River. Now I could see why the flow on the upper Kern was dropping so fast.

This wide-angle photograph of Mt. Whitney and the Sierra crest from the summit of Mt. Langley is from a high resolution composite of 8 individual images. It was created using the improved photo-merge tools in Photoshop CS3.

Big horn sheep on the slopes of Mt. Langley. June 23, 2007.
Big horn sheep on the slopes of Mt. Langley. June 23, 2007.

Miklos and Krisztina joined me on the summit, and after taking a few summit photos, we headed down. Screeing down the slopes below the rock band, we were startled when a herd of perhaps 20 big horn sheep rumbled across the slopes below us. They flowed across the rough landscape like quicksilver. Graceful and robust, they moved effortlessly between the rocks and up a small slope. In the moments it took me to react, grab my camera, and turn it on, all but two large rams trailing the group, had disappeared.

Energized by the sight of these fleet-footed animals, we continued down to the saddle at Army Pass, and then up and over New Army Pass. Before sunset we would be back to the car, and before dark, eating dinner at Lone Pine. Before midnight we would be back in L.A. Here’s a Google Earth image and Google Earth KMZ file of a GPS trace of our route.

Note: Going to higher altitudes without properly acclimating can result in very serious, life-threatening illnesses. There is much information available on the Internet regarding altitude sickness and acclimatization. As a starting point see UIAA Medical Commission – Advice and Recommendations and Wikipedia: Altitude sickness.

Related post: Cottonwood – New Army Pass Loop

Peaks Along Pleasant View Ridge

Peaks along Pleasant View Ridge in the San Gabriel Mountains.

Sitting on a weather worn log, I emptied the grit from my shoes and asked Miklos how much water he had left. We had just finished the 3 mile segment of Pleasant View Ridge, between Mt. Williamson and Burkhart Saddle and were debating continuing along the ridge to Will Thrall Peak and the next peak to the northwest. Abiding by the “here now, climb it now” philosophy, we took the first few steps up the steep slope.

A little more than a mile and 1200′ of gain later we were enjoying the panoramic view, and pondering why there would be a benchmark stamped “PALLETT” on the summit of a peak named “Pleasant View Ridge,” on Pleasant View Ridge, in plain view of Pallett Mountain.

With the addition of the segment from Burkhart Saddle, this extended version of the Pleasant View Ridge hike/run included the following peaks and high points:

Mt. Williamson (8214′) – As marked on the Crystal Lake topo.

Point 8244 – The Mt. Williamson register is normally here.

Point 8248 – This is the highest point on Pleasant View Ridge.

Peak 8160+ – Peak east-southeast of Pallett Mountain.

Pallett Mountain (7760+’) – Peak just east of Burkhart Saddle.

Will Thrall Peak (7845′) – Peak just west of Burkhart Saddle.

Pleasant View Ridge 7983′ – Peak northwest of Will Thrall marked with a benchmark stamped “PALLETT.”