Monday, October 20, 2014

Jones Peak (3,390') via Barebone Ridge and Little Santa Anita Canyon

Climbing a Class 3 ridge, scrambling over gravelly 70% grade slopes, and slicing though think Chaparral, while looking down at Wal-Mart, McDonalds, congested freeways, and 10 Million people's homes, is something you can only do hiking in Southern California.  It is strange to think that, when your sweating profusely and breathing even harder up an insanely steep ridge, to think that just one air mile away, there is a bustling civilization, along with all its amenities.  While the city offers comfort, the mountain offers adventure; while the metropolis calls some to complacency, the peaks also beckons them to new limits.  This trip indeed, will increase your limits, bring you out of complacency; and give you an unforgettable experience.  

Category: Very Strenuous (Because of the Class 2/3 trail-less climb up Jones Peak)
Miles: 6.9
Elevation Gain: 2850'
Location: Angeles National Forest

The Hike:   You begin this trek near Mt.Wilson Park at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains, in the uppermost neighborhoods of Sierra Madre.  From the quiet park you follow the paved Mt. Wilson Road up until the beginning of a real trail with some signage.  Here is where the real hike begins, as you wind below some hilltop homes.  After a few minutes, you realize that you are now really in the mountains, as the homes and roads are left behind.  You are now on the Old Mt. Wilson Trail, which built in 1864 to the top of its namesake, is the oldest continuously used trail in Southern California.  Ponder that as you stare back down to the busy I-210 Freeway and downtown Los Angeles 10 miles away.  Below, is the Little Santa Anita Canyon, as rugged a canyon as any in the San Gabriels.  Across the steep chasm, is abrupt Winter Ridge and the Winter Creek Trail, originating in Big Santa Anita Canyon on the ridge's other side.  After gaining about 500', you come to the beginning of a small climber's path, and the end of a ridge.  Take this climber's path as it switchbacks up the steep slope of Barebone Ridge, which culminates in your zenith for the day; Jones Peak.  
    At a certain point the use-path diverges off the ridge, and disappears behind the north-side of the ridge.  Trekking poles are a must past here, and  this is also your last way out.  After this, the route is trail-less and extremely steep; turning back past this point would result in a mean fall or worse.  Its all or nothing after this.  You in?   Good, let's continue:  After the trail leaves, its just you and the ridge.  Take up the challenge as you climb up the gravelly slope, and use both your hands and feet to bench over the only Class 3 spot on the hike.  The very beginning of the ridge-line scramble is the worst, and after about fifteen minutes you will, have to 'only' climb up a brutal Fire-Break.  Follow this route up, and after passing one false summit, you will find yourself at the summit of Jones Peak (3,390'); quite the accomplishment.  You will have just benched a ridge gaining 1550' in 0.75 miles!  The grade on some spots was 70%, while the average was around 40%.  Intense.  Jones Peak summit, is really just a typical Front-Country range peak, but after the work to get there, it feels like so much more.  
   After spending some well-earned break time on the top, you will climb down the steep north-western slope of Jones Peak to a small saddle with the Baily Canyon trail coming up to it from Altadena, the easier way to the peak.  From the saddle, you climb up the ridge in front of you, until you come to a trail-split.  Take this crossover trail which leads back into Little Santa Anita Canyon, about two miles until it makes its way back down to the main Old Mt. Wilson Trail.  From here, you can either go back to the car on the trail, or continue about one and a half miles a little bit up to Orchard Camp, to make this trip a little more relaxing after that intense climb.  If you choose to continue, you will find yourself making a left at the trail-split, and hiking towards Orchard Camp,  the half-way point up Mt. Wilson and an old resort spot from days gone by.  On route to the camp, you pass by some magnificent alders, oaks and firs, as well as bubbling Decker Springs, the only year-round water source on this trail.  When you arrive at the Orchard Camp (3000'), stop an enjoy the sounds of creation, while sitting atop the old ruins of 1920's resort, and under the shade of one of the oldest Oak Trees in Southern California, around 500-700 years old.  After your sitting, follow the trail back down the canyon three and a half miles to the car, where the sign and sights of the city will be waiting for you.  

Saint Margaret Mary Alaquoqe, Saint Hedwig, and Saint Gehard, Pray for us!  

Hiked 10-16-2014.  Los Angeles County.  No Adventure Pass Required.  

Warning: Do NOT, under ANY circumstances, attempt to climb Jones Peak via Barebone Ridge if the temperature is above 80 F.  

Beginning the ridge  climb

Up the gravelly gully 

The standard route, the majority of the time on the ridge

Nearing Jones Peak

The City and the Mountains

Crossover Trail after Jones Peak

Jones Peak at the Crossover Trail

At the end of the Crossover Trail

Distant Mt. Harvard

Decker Springs, surrounded by Fall Foliage.

The Great Oak

Near Orchard Camp

Nearing the trip's end at the mouth of Little Santa Anita Canyon

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Humphrey's Peak (12,637') from Humphrey's Peak Trailhead

Humphrey's Peak: Highest Point in Arizona

Towering thousands of feet above a state known for its harsh deserts and inhospitable climate, Humphrey's Peak, the crown of the San Francisco Peaks stands as an island in the sky.  Its lower slopes are covered with thick aspen and pine forests, with meadows gracing the edges of the forests.  The peaks themselves are remnants of a blown volcano, which scientists tell us exploded 200,000 thousands years ago, and traces of that epic event are founds all along the trail, from the igneous rocks scattered among the trail, to the cinder cones in the surrounding terrain, to the blown caldera on the eastern side of the peaks, this land is littered with the echos of days past.  


Category: Strenuous 
Miles: 9.6   
Elevation Gain: 3350'
Location: Coconino National Forest, Kachina Peak Wilderness

The Hike:  From the newly paved parking lot, follow the trail through an almost gorgeous meadow, if it weren't for an enormous ski lift scrapping right through the middle.  Aside from that fact however, the meadow is purely picturesque, with wildflowers and green grasses around along stunning views of the high peak above and the dark aspen forest ahead.  Soon, you enter into that forest, littered with roots of the enormous colonies of aspen trees, quaking in the wind.  In about a mile, you are officially welcomed into the Kachina Peak Wilderness be another sign and a hiker registration box.  After filling in some basic info, you take the trail right, as it begins to switchback up the mountain side for a good 2.5 miles.  Observe how, very subtlety the forest begins transitioning from the main body to sub-alpine.  At 11,400' you are told camping is no longer permitted above that height and just a short 400' higher you reach treeline at the Agassiz Saddle at 11,800', where you are treated to a spectacular view into the caldera basin before you, and the Arizona Snowbowl Basin behind.  From the saddle you turn left and follow the trail up and around the mountainside.  At this point, good trail sense is needed as the route is currently being repaired in this section and large boulders hide the trail in many places.  The last mile up the the summit is completely above tree-line and exposed to the elements; not a good place to be during a thunderstorm.  Nonetheless, here on the rooftop of Arizona, there is a quiet peace and stillness which is remarkable; only broken by the occasional call of the raven.  You round and climb three false summits before attaining the true peak, but when you are there it is worth all the troubles of the trail.  To the north lies the Grand Canyon, and in every other direction, spectacular views- a true 'top of the world' experience.  Return the way you came, and be sure to be in the forest before the daily thunderstorms in the summer hit.  Laudatur Jesus Christus!  

Saint Bernard, Patron of Mountain Climbers, Pray for us!  

Hiked 8-20-2014- Coconino County Highpoint, Arizona State Highpoint.  
No  Wilderness Permit Required.              


The San Francisco Peaks

Wilderness Boundary

The Agassiz Saddle

The Interior Caldera

Mount Agassiz

The Summit

Do you see the Grand Canyon?

Hail begins at 12:05




Collection of Short Outdoor Adventures: Summer 2014

Upon arriving back from a wonderful trip across the Western USA, I have decided to share some half-day, short outdoor adventures with this blog: 

1. Rock Climbing- Sinks Canyon State Park, Lander, WY 
2. Pikes Peak (Highway, Summit, Garden of the Gods), Colorado Springs, CO
3. Petrified Forest National Park and The Painted Desert, AZ
4. The Grand Canyon (Mather Point and Desert View), AZ


1. Rock Climbing at Sinks Canyon State Park

Miles to Rock Climbing from Trailhead: 2 RT
Elevation Gain: 350'
Climbing Class: Class 5.5 (Yosemite Decimal System)
Closest Town: Lander, WY

Personally, I wasn't a big fan of rock climbing for the first time on Class 5 rock, but it was a good experience nonetheless.  I'll just share a couple pictures from this small hike to the base of the rock, and then my climb about 35' up the cliff.  

Popo Agie River


Bruce's Suspension Bridge

2. Pikes Peak (14,115'), Colorado Springs, CO

Ok, so I drove to the summit of America's Mountain, but that doesn't mean it doesn't count.... It was an amazing drive up there and the Garden of the Gods wasn't bad at all either.....

Pikes Peak from Colorado Springs
Garden of the Gods

Summit of Pikes Peak 

Cog Railway
Original Summit House

3. Painted Desert National Park

This is a fun place just of I-40 and it only takes about 2 hours to see most of the park.... enjoy...  if you have time hike from Tawa Point along the Painted Desert Rim over to the Classic Hotel.  It only about 1 mile.  

4. Grand Canyon National Park (Mather Point, and Desert View)

What can be said about the Grand Canyon? Perhaps God's most single inspiring place on earth...