Monthly Archives: January 2012

Camping in Cooper Canyon

A buddy of mine asked me if I wanted to go camping soon, and of course I was game. I looked up some trail camps in the local mountains that looked like they might be good for a short backpacking trip and finally decided on Cooper Canyon Trail Camp off the PCT. We drove out on Saturday morning, met up with some people in LA and drove up the 2 to Cloudburst Summit. The camp is about a 2.5 mile hike from the highway but we decided to take the trail up to Winston Peak first for a small detour.

It was a bit of a workout hiking straight up that small peak with our packs on, and coming down it wasn’t all that easier either. The other side of the peak descended sharply and had lots of lose gravel and rocks.

We started hitting our first large patches of snow here.

After coming down from Winston Peak we met up with the PCT trail and had a quick snack break.

After meeting up with the PCT the trail descended down into the canyon. This area was a beautiful place to hike through. I wanted to take like a million pictures.

It didn’t take long to eventually arrive at the trail camp. We were happy to find that the stream nearby was still running enough that we could use it as a water source.

We were also happy to see that no one else was occupying the campsite so we had it all to ourselves! What, no one else wants to camp in the mountains in the middle of January??

After a quick lunch at the campsite we decided to take a day hike down to the nearby falls before it got too late in the day. We took the PCT/Silver Mocassin Trail from camp down about a mile where we spotted the top of the falls.

It took us a second look to figure out how to get down to the falls but we eventually found a trail that led down to a spot where someone had installed a convenient rope (that was actually in good condition).

There was a good amount of water still coming down the falls, but I’m sure it was nothing compared to what it would look like in springtime.

After hanging around the falls a while we decided we should head back to camp to set up our tents before it started to get dark. I took my time getting back to camp taking a bunch of pictures on the way; I really loved this area.

By the time we got back to camp it had already started to get chilly so we started a small fire in one of the stone stoves. It was nice to have something to warm your hands over.

Before the sun went down we had camp set up pretty well. The sky during sunset was awesome looking from camp.

As night rolled around it started getting quite cold, but of course by this time we already had a nice campfire roaring to keep us warm as we stayed up into the night.

The moon and stars were everything I would expect from a crisp, clear mountain night.

In the morning we restarted the fire for some warmth. We could tell the temperatures dropped below freezing as some of our water that was left out froze over night.

The morning sun peaked through the trees as we readied breakfast and coffee.

After downing our hot coffee and getting down on some excellent breakfast we packed up and headed out. We decided to take a cross-country route up out of the canyon.

It was a little strenuous but we eventually met up with a forest service road which took us back to the trailhead at Cloudburst Summit. Below is the GPS track to the camp, the falls, and back to the trailhead.

A Snowy Icy Hike up Mt. Baden-Powell

Saturday morning a few friends and I cruised up to Vincent Gap off Hwy 2 to hike Mt. Baden-Powell. We noticed a lot of snow patches still lingering in the mountains and hoped we wouldn’t hit too much snow on the trail since we were not quite prepared for it. Despite the possible snow and ice we might encounter, we hit the trail with high hopes.

This trail quickly gained elevation and started giving us great views right away. It was a great day to be hiking in the mountains.

It wasn’t long on the trail until we started encountering icy patches of snow that were very slippery if you walked on them. We did our best to walk around these areas but in some cases it was not possible so we had to tread carefully over them.

Eventually the icy snow patches started becoming more frequent the further we got up the trail. Walking over snow and ice started to become the norm. We ran into a solo hiker who was coming back down the trail and said he was turning back due the large amounts of ice on the trail. We decided to push onward.

Some areas we just decided to cut straight up the mountain through large blankets of snow to avoid the icy parts on the trail. Although very tiring, this approach worked out quite well for us and was better than traversing across the slippery ice.

The views got excellent as we climbed higher.

We kept following tracks in the snow up the mountain. It started becoming a very exhausting climb through the snow but we gradually drew closer to the summit.

Since we were without proper snow gear, a few of us ended up with soaked shoes and socks; the only thing keeping our feet warm was the movement we got from hiking. We trudged along and finally made it to the Mt. Baden-Powell PCT Junction; now there was just a little ways to go until we reached the summit.

The last leg of the trail to the summit was windy and cold, but with less ice and snow which was nice.

There were a couple small switchbacks right before the summit. It was nice walking up and having the Boy Scout Monument and summit register come into sight.

Now it was time for some well deserved summit snacks.

It was pretty nice on the summit, not to cold or windy, and the air was clear so the views were great. We could see all the way to downtown LA.

Since we had a time constraint we didn’t spend too much time on the summit. After finishing our snacks and signing the summit register we started our decent back down.

The trip took us about 5 hours all together. In retrospect we realized we should have came prepared for snow and ice, but the hike was still a lot of fun despite being ill-equipped.

Hiking Mount Wilson via Chantry Flat

I had been wanting to hike Mount Wilson for a while, and since I had just hiked Mount Baldy last weekend, I figured it was a good time to go for it. I knew the Chantry Flat parking area was going to be out of control so we tried to get there early, but we still didn’t get there early enough and had to park down the road and hike up to the trailhead.

We took the Upper Winter Creek Trail which headed upwards right away but was mostly shaded and pleasant to hike. We quickly gained elevation and started to get great views of the surrounding hills.

We continued up The Upper Creek Trail winding through the cool forest; it was perfect hiking weather.

After 3 miles we came to a trail junction near Hoegee’s Campground, however we kept heading towards Mt. Wilson which was still 4 1/2 miles away.

After the decent to the trail junction, the trail headed back up again and was a lot more tiring. There were lots of switchbacks up through the forest, but fortunately the trees provided a nice shaded canopy to hike under.

At about 5 miles in we came upon Manzanita Ridge and could see radio towers in the distance atop Mount Harvard. We still had a ways to go to get to Mount Wilson.

A little further up the trail we met up with the old Mount Wilson Toll Road. It was cool to hike along the historic road which was littered with fallen boulders and tree branches. We caught another trail that spurred off from the road which led further up the mountain and led us up to a large gravel paved lot near some radio towers.

We took a short break and checked out the views and then headed towards the Mount Wilson Observatory. The road to the observatory area was closed for the winter so most of the people there were just hikers like us which was kind of nice.

After exploring the observatory area for a little bit and filling up on water we headed over to the Sturtevant Trail to start our decent. 6.7 miles back to Chantry Flat!

Coming down this trail from the summit gave us some awesome views down Santa Anita Canyon. Eventually the trail descended back down into the shaded canopy of the forest.

After a lot of hard down hill leg stomping we past by Sturtevant Camp where one of our favorite forest rangers works. Shortly after Sturtevant Camp we came to the Spruce Grove Trail Camp where we took a short break on one of the picnic tables. Then it was down the canyon and up the dreaded steep driveway that leads back up to Chantry Flat.

This 13 mile hike was a definite butt-kicker but made for an amazing daylong hike. If you ever plan on heading to this area be sure to check out the website for Adam’s Pack Station for a lot of great info.

Hiking Mount Baldy

I thought it would be good to start the new year off with a day hike up Mount Baldy. I conjoined with some friends in Ontario and we made our way up towards the mountains. On the way I got a call from my buddy Eric who got a late start but said he would meet us on the summit. We parked at the trailhead near Manker Flats, geared up, and hit the trail around 8am.  There were still some icy patches near the trailhead.

It was a cold morning in the mountains which made for some good hiking weather. We made our first stop at San Antonio Falls and then continued up the trail. We were planning on going up the Ski Hut Trail but we ended up missing the trail junction so we continued on the road that leads up to the Mt. Baldy Ski Lodge.

We took a quick break near the ski area and then headed up towards the Devil’s Backbone Trail. As we headed up we could see there was a good amount of snow in the mountains near the ski area.

We started coming across more patches of snow and ice at this point but nothing that would impede us.

It was a little cold and windy at some points up on the ridge.

We quickly made our way across the Devil’s Backbone which had a few patches of snow and ice.

Then we headed past Mt. Harwood and drew closer to Baldy.

As we got closer to the final climb to the Mt. Baldy summit I saw a red speck in the distance in front of us on the trail. I thought, hey that is probably Eric!

When we made it to the summit my suspicions about the tiny red spec were confirmed. Eric had taken the ski lift up to Baldy Notch and had been in front of us the entire time. We had some snacks on the summit and took the obligatory group summit picture.

It was a nice day to be on the summit; not too cold or windy and with clear views all around.

We decided to make our decent on the Ski Hut Trail since we missed it on our way up. There were a lot of patches of ice in the shady sections of the trail on the way down we had to negotiate. There was one point were I slipped on some and only caught myself from tumbling downhill on a large tree that I ran into.

When we made it to the Sierra Club Ski Hut we found that it was open (even though it was a Monday) and we were able to go inside and check it out.

The inside of the hut was a lot roomier than I had imagined and had an upstairs area with a bunch of bunk beds. Downstairs there was a kitchen area with a wood burning stove and a sink which continuously ran with mountain spring water (no need to filter). This was nice since I needed a refill on water.

After chilling out at the hut for a little bit we hit the trail again and returned to the trailhead near Manker Flats. The hike took us around 7 hours all together. It was an awesome day to hike Mount Baldy and was even cooler that we were able to meet up with Eric on the summit.