Last weekend we headed up highway 39 to the recently reopened Crystal Lake Recreation Area. The entire area is not reopened but the road is opened to a day use picnic area and snack shop. You can also access some trailheads here which you couldn’t previously.
We had to hike up a portion of the closed road from the parking area until we came across the Windy Gap trail marker. We planned to take the trail up over the gap and down into the Little Jimmy trail camp.
The hike was great in the beginning, however you could tell the trail had been neglected for some time. Some sections were partially washed out and there were also large trees laying across the trail. Eventually we ran into a young brown-colored black bear standing right in front of us on the trail.
It didn’t take much to scare him off the trail, however he still lingered around watching us. We decided to cut cross-country to a higher part of the trail to keep an eye on him, however he didn’t end up following us. My guess is that he was heading down to the picnic area!
After getting over the gap and maneuvering across over 30 fallen trees in the trail we came to find that the whole other side of the mountains were covered in snow. Little Jimmy camp was almost completely covered, except for one spot which was perfect for putting our tent down in.
Luckily for us one of the camp stoves wasn’t completely buried in snow and there was even a small pile of branches left behind we got to use. Although it was a super nice day out it started getting cold quickly in the evening. It was nice to get the fire going.
After we made dinner we stayed up huddled around the fire. It was great not having anyone else around in the campsite. We stayed up as long as we could enjoying the night but eventually the warmth of our tent and sleeping bags lured us in.
The morning was cool and crisp, but once the sun was out you didn’t even really need a jacket. having a hot cup a coffee with the snow covered mountains all around was an awesome way to start the day.
The hike back was quick since it was all mostly down hill past Windy Gap. On the way back we came across a group of rangers and the San Gabriel Mountains Trailbuilders who were gearing up to clear some of the fallen trees on the trail. We gave them our count of fallen trees and thanked them for their efforts.