Category Archives: trails|san gabriels

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

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.”

Snowless San Gabriels

Ridge between Mt. Baden-Powell and Mt. Burnham in the San Gabriel Mountains. 
Ridge between Mt. Baden-Powell and Mt. Burnham

Standing on the summit of Mt. Baden-Powell (9399′), I squinted through the haze at Mt. Baldy (10,064′). Nope, no snow.

It’s not often that the highest elevations of the San Gabriel Mountains are snowless on Memorial Day weekend. If nowhere else, there will usually be a patch of white on the north side of Mt. Baldy. Two years ago there were 10-15 ft. drifts on Baden-Powell that persisted into July. Not this year.

This year, usually dependable water sources might not make it through the Summer. On the way to Baden-Powell I  stopped at Little Jimmy Springs. Descending to the spring, I didn’t hear the usual splitter-splatter of water streaming onto the rocks. For a worried moment I wondered if the spring could already dry.

It wasn’t dry, but the spring was nearly as low as it was in August 2002, following the driest water year ever recorded in Los Angeles. Whether Little Jimmy Spring will last through this Summer, after what is likely to be an even drier year, we’ll just have to see. To date, Los Angeles has received only 3.21 inches of rain since July 1, 2006, and will very likely break the record set in 2001-2002.

When on the trail between Islip Saddle and Mt. Baden-Powell, I almost always visit Little Jimmy Spring. The area surrounding the spring is lush and green, and in midsummer is accentuated with the yellows and reds of wildflowers. There are several impressive Incense Cedars nearby, and one huge tree must have enjoyed the idyllic setting and refreshing waters for at least a few centuries. The tree was threatened by the 2002 Curve Fire, but fortunately only a part of its fire-resistant trunk was burned.

At the spring, I filled my Camelbak to the brim. On the way back from Mt. Baden-Powell, I was planning to climb Mt. Burnham, Throop Peak, Mt. Hawkins and Mt. Islip. Most of these peaks are relatively easy ascents requiring short detours from the main trail. Mt. Islip requires a little more effort, and is about a mile by trail from Windy Gap.

According to my Forerunner 205, the distance from Islip Saddle to Mt. Baden-Powell is about 8.1 miles. Depending on how Islip is done, the total mileage including the five peaks is in the neighborhood of 17-18 miles, with an elevation gain and loss of about 4700′.

Note: Angeles Crest Highway (SR2) was open to Islip Saddle.

Related post: PCT Above Windy Gap.

Three Points – Mt. Waterman Loop

Trail sign on the Mt. Waterman Trail in the San Gabriel Mountains.

Five miles of (mostly) downhill to go. Running through an old growth forest of Jeffrey Pine, Sugar Pine and Incense Cedar, I relished being on a pine needle covered trail at 7000 ft. in the San Gabriel Mountains.

In a record dry water year, I had been curious to see how the mountains were faring. Although creeks were very low and grasses dry, my impression was that groundwater resources were not quite as bad. The usual springs and seeps still muddied the trail. In 2005 the San Gabriel Mountains were deluged with rain, and in the 2006 the rainfall was nearly normal, so some carryover would be expected.

Update May 27, 2007. My impression of groundwater resources may have been overly optimistic. On a run to Mt. Baden-Powell from Islip Saddle, I stopped by Little Jimmy Spring. It was nearly as low as in late August 2002, when Los Angeles had just experienced its driest water year on record. This year will likely break the 2001-2002 record.

Even so, it was obviously much drier than normal. There were fewer wildflowers, and some young Incense Cedars looked as if they might be stressed. On the plus side, manzanita and currant were blooming in profusion, and perhaps 30-35 scarlet red stalks of snow plant were seen on the loop.

About three miles from Three Points I happened upon another Jeffrey Pine that had been struck by lightning. This strike appeared to more energetic than the bolt that struck the tree on the Baldy North Backbone Trail. The spiral scar was wider and braided at some points, and the strike ignited the tree. Where the Baldy tree was on a sharp ridge crest, this tree was several hundred feet below the main crest in an area where the trail started to work around a projecting ridge.

More about this loop and a Google Earth image of the course can be found in the post Manzanita Morning.

Angeles High Country

Angeles High Country

Of all the faces of Los Angeles perhaps the least well known is the Angeles High Country. Entirely within the County of Los Angeles, the lofty peaks and chiseled canyons extend from Mt. Waterman on the west to 10,064′ Mt. Baldy on the east. It is rugged and wild — the home of ancient trees, bighorn sheep, black bears and mountain lions.

This view of the crest is from the Rim Trail, on the steep eastern shoulder of Mt. Wilson. From left to right the prominent peaks are Mt. Waterman (8,038′), Twin Peaks (7761′), Mt. Baden-Powell (9,399′), and Mt. Baldy (10,064′). The lack of snow is indicative of the meager amount of precipitation we’ve had this Winter.

We were running the Rim Trail as part of an approximately 22-mile loop from Shortcut Saddle on Angeles Crest Highway to Mt. Wilson and back. The loop incorporates several segments of the new 50-mile course that is part of the Angeles National Forest Trail Race (formerly Mt. Disappointment).

The segments of the loop that are on the 50-mile course are the Silver Moccasin Trail, Gabrielino Trail, Kenyon DeVore Trail, and the Rincon-Edison Road. Here are a Google Earth image and Google Earth KMZ file of a GPS trace of the route.

Much of the winding 5.6 mile climb out from the W.F. San Gabriel River on the Rincon-Edison Road is steep and shadeless. Rincon-Edison Road is also used (under permit) by off-road vehicles — we encountered two dirt bikes and a jeep.