A Hundred Peaks - page 12
No hiking since the semester began in January, which is typical, but I wanted to get something in during Spring Break. Since mot of the time was spent grading and doing other work-related stuff, in desperation I took off the Saturday, which was March 31, and nipped up to the San Gabriels.
The higher elevations had some snow (and ice), and the Angeles Crest Hwy is closed seasonally about 20 miles along, preventing access to some of the more remote peaks, so I decided on a couple of lower-elevation, close-in peaks that I had not yet done. These had been closed access after the Station Fire in 2009 but were now open - Occidental Peak and Mount Markham, both close to Mt Wilson.
I started out on a rather gloomy morning, with 30% rain probability forecast for the mountains, but I figured, short hikes on use trails or trails, no problem. As I started up the Angeles Crest Hwy I was getting into denser and denser cloud, at one point down to about 100 ft visibility. But coming out onto the crest itself, and it was glorious sunshine. From the turnoff to Mt Wilson there was a wonderful view of the clouds from which I had just emerged. At the Occidental Peak trailhead it wa salmost 70 degrees, clear and sunny.
A Nature Hike with a Peak at the End
Another weekend, another mountain. I was ready for something simple, and nearby, so I decided on Mt Lukens, at the west end of the San Gabriel range, only about half as far away as last weekend's peaks. The route I picked was said to be easy navigation and easy hiking, so I was sold. The only discrepancy between the route from the Hundred Peaks website and the GPS waypoints on that site was that the parking area was wrong. I parked as the instructions said, at mile 30.02 on the Angeles Crest - the GPS point is some distance up the road from there. The trail leading up from the parking area was very obvious, so at 8:40 I was off.
The trail leading up the slope from the parking area
Looking back towards the Angeles Crest Highway
The trail goes through a logged area that then burned
The trail starts to switchback immediately, and it gains a fair amount of elevation quite quickly. It's a really nice trail, somewhere between a use trail and something like the PCT. It's quickly out into a an old logged area that has subsequently burned. Fortunately, it was a cool morning, so a very pleasant walk.
Quite soon the trail joins up with an old logging road
Lots of butterflies - in this case a Variable Checker atop buckwheat
A remnant of the ill-fated "Angeles World" water park
Spectacular view of the San Fernando Valley
A blue Penstemon - I don't know the species
The top of Mt Lukens itself is not one of the most scenic peaks
A Hundred Peaks - page 12
This hike was about the best so far in terms of nature - plenty of birds and butterflies, and masses of wildflowers still in bloom. I couldn't identify all the flowers, not even close, so I will have some time to spend trying to figure some of them out. The butterflies were easier, though there was one blue that I couldn't figure out. The most obvious seemed to be Harford's Sulphur, but with plenty of the "Chalcedon" Checkers and Western Tiger Swallowtails. For birds, quite lot of Wrentits, plus Lawrence's Goldfinches, Oak Titmice, several pairs of Bewick's Wrens, lots of Spotted Towhees, and so on.
Back down through the burn area
A nice little ridge just before the switchbacks down to the road
So, all in all a very slow day, enjoying nature as I went. The trail was simple, and the only part at all steep, and that not very, was at the start. The rest, as befits an old logging road and then a communication tower access road, was well-graded, nicely contoured, and essentially unused (two pickups passed while I was on top of the peak eating my lunch). Back to the car by 3:15 - 6-1/2 hours covering 11 miles. Very nice.