Trekking along the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) just south of the Cajon Pass and west of the I-15 freeway, we found ourselves winding through a wonderland of rock formations and wildflowers.
The wildfire of 2017 (the Lake Fire) seems to have inspired spectacular blooms of cactus, penstamen, yarrow and nearly every other wildflower…all at once.
The few phone camera pictures we took could not do justice to this bloom. Still it was a cool, overcast morning, perfect for hiking.
Look what Google Did…
photo by Linda L.
Photo by Linda L.
Trekkers love to wander the length and height of LA County…often in the same week. Recently, we found ourselves in Silverlake hunting for the Music Box Stairs where Laurel and Hardy carried a piano up a narrow staircase in the academy award winning film, “The Music Box.” And on the following Saturday, we headed for Mt. Baldy in eastern LA county.
The Music Box staircase consists of a whopping 708 steps in an eclectic neighborhood where we discovered riddles, colorful signs and rainbows.
“Does Koala Bear poop smell like cough drops?” photo by Kiam O.
On the following two Saturdays, we headed for the slopes of Mt. Baldy, at 10,064 feet, the highest peak in Southern California’s San Gabriel Range. We found wild orchids along San Antonio Creek at the Sierra Ski Hut and wonderful views on the Devil’s Backbone trail leading to the summit. A word to the wise: bring a portable battery charger or a spare battery for your phone camera! (Mine was out of juice well before the summit.)
The rains have turned Marshall Canyon emerald green and on the upper hillside, round red buds open slowly into gentle western peonies.
Urban hikes in LA provide an opportunity to experience the geographical relationship between communities and the city center. This time, we started from the basin floor at Echo Park Lake, a large, manicured urban pond stocked with coots, rental boats and floating lilies.
As in all parts of Los Angeles, Echo Park is surrounded by hills where bedroom communities were built with staircases that residents would descend to catch the streetcars (the Red Car system.) Although the advent of automobile culture ended the rail system by the l950’s, the stairways remain.
We climbed staircases on both sides of the lake, finding graffiti, spectacular views of DTLA, the ever-present freeways, and then stumbled upon gorgeous Victorian mansions at the top of Angelino Heights.
The best part? After some four or five miles of tromping up and down the old staircases, lunch at Taix was just a block away from Echo Park!
Driving down Las Virgines road to Malibu, our spirits lifted after a long run on the 210 to the 134 to the 101. Dramatic mountain views gave way to the sight of Pepperdine University and the ocean.
It was a new adventure for us, a new set of trails, a new set of photographic challenges, particularly since I had only a Samsung Galaxy S-4 phone camera. (Not the exploding Galaxy Note 7 with the camera that rivals the I-phone. Oh well…)
We apparently did the 3.8 mile hike backwards, heading west along the shady creek to the ruins of two houses and the remnants of a once full fledged waterfall. Then onto the Rising Sun trail. Aptly named, it was both rising (800 feet) and sunny. Our final descent produced not just a view of the ocean, but the salt scent of the sea and the sound of the crashing waves. And on the way we saw hawks, woodpeckers and nesting parrots! And some odd architecture.
Can you see it? The bird’s head is buried in the nest, probably feeding its chicks.
The ruins are carefully preserved for the “historical” record.
The house was dubbed “Tropical Terrace.”
A tumble of boulders, broken rebar and fragments of brick wall testify to the strength of the waterfall at one time.
The fall is now just a trickle.
Designed by a prominent African American architect, the house succombed to a fire in 1982. From the hilltop, it can be identified by palm trees.
Descending, a neighborhood of eccentric house designs reveals itself.
Hope you didn’t miss it! For three weekends starting September 24 and ending October 9, hikers could ride a free shuttle to Chantry Flat from the Metro Goldline’s Arcadia Station.
We gleefully boarded at the Citrus/APU station at 8:30 a.m. and within the hour had arrived at the trailhead. No parking headaches, no endless circling, no scary walk along the narrow winding road when the parking lot filled up! Just the rest of the day to hike, picnic, take pictures and enjoy the scent of bay, oak and pine.
We had avoided Chantry Flat for several years because of parking headaches on the weekend and ended the day wondering whether the shuttle service was likely to continue. The forest rangers agreed that it might if the turnout was good and surveys indicated public approval. We snatched up the forms and wrote yes!
If you’d like to weigh in, you might still contact the U.S. Forest Service through a link proved by San Gabriel Mountains Forever: /https://sangabrielmountains.org/2016/09/14/new-transit-to-trails-program-chantry-flat/
Here are a few pictures:
It was free! And comfortably air conditioned for the winding 20 minute ride.
The drought has rendered the once roaring waterfall as a damp streak on the cliff face.
The day started out with a hike under a gorgeous sky, into the leafy canyon where we were treated to a doe and her yearling fawn trotting past us.
Further up the trail, we came upon a lovely picnic area where an Eagle Scout had built a sturdy public restroom for tired hikers. Two stalls and a skylight beckoned and we headed under the trees toward the cozy structure.
Maybe the bears know the passcode that will open it…or the raccoons.
We found ourselves locked out! We couldn’t figure out the required combination and hoped for a friendly bear or raccoon to ask but none appeared. Not even the squirrels came to laugh at our predicament.
Undaunted, we headed uphill and noticed another addition to the canyon.
It was a park bench dedicated to (or by?) our retiring county supervisor who is currently running for a seat in the California State Senate. Grateful hikers not in need of a bathroom will surely support him in November!