Sunday, July 15, 2012

Hike 2012.044 -- Schabarum Park

Hiked Thursday, July 12.

My hiking/eating schedule is just not working very well. I keep running out of motivation on my hikes and cutting them short.

Arrived in Schabarum Park around 4:15pm. Along the way, a spritzing of precipitation caught my windshield.

The main entrance to the park is at 17250 Colima Road (just east of Azusa Avenue) in the unincorporated community of Rowland Heights, CA 91748. Oddly enough, Google Maps displays the park as "Ray's Schabarum Regional Park." The park's actually named after a long-time former Los Angeles County Supervisor Peter (Pete) Schabarum.

Folks coming from the east or west will probably take the Pomona Freeway (CA-60) to Azusa Avenue and head south about 1/2 mile. Make a left at Colima, then make the first right into Schabarum Park.

Entering the lot, there's an entry station. On weekends, there's a $6 charge to park there. On weekdays, it's free.

I made a right and parked in the last lot area, near where the after-hours exit is located.

From there, there's a service road entrance heading south. It soon leads towards a more-defined trail that intersects with the Schabarum/De Anza trail. There's a fair incline as the trail climbs to provide a nice overview of the park. Although most of the immediate area is manicured lawn, the tree cover is thick, and from the trail, you see more tree tops than grass lawn.

The trail arcs to the northwest, passing below homes that are built on the top of the ridge to the southwest. Soon, you reach a three-way intersection. A left turn would send you east-bound on the Schabarum Trail, towards Powder Canyon. A right turn sends you west-bound, towards Hacienda Avenue. You can also make a large loop out of going either way out and returning the other way.

My initial intent was to go to Hsi Lai Temple and Hacienda Avenue. However, the last stretch there entails a sustained and substantial descent, and I had lost my motivation by then. I made it to within sight of Hsi Lai and descended well over 100 feet towards Hacienda, but then decided to turn around.

In this shot, you can see the tiled roof of Hsi Lai at the bottom right, though it somewhat blend in with all the other tiled roofs in the area. In the distance, two pairs of towers now cut across the Hacienda Hills: The original set of towers, and the larger, taller towers of the Tehatchapi Renewable Power transmission project.

Also at my turnaround point, the rain became significant.

Rain? In July? Yes, that's unusual. This one was sort of monsoonal, and the air was warm and humid.

That's part of why I decided to hike in Puente Hills on Thursday rather than the San Gabriel Mountains. I had some fear that the higher altitudes of the San Gabriels would generate more thunderstorms, and the air and rain would be cooler there. Still not likely to be life threatening on a short hike, but less comfortable than at lower altitudes.

The contrast between what I saw this time and my last trip vist was dramatic. Whereas in March and April found this area blanketed by the purple and white of wild radish and thistle, and the yellows of wild mustard, today the hills were the uniform tan of dried grasses.

The sky, meanwhile, remained dark. Can't really catch the rain in a still shot, but it was hard to miss in real life. When I started, I could see a strong downpour near San Gabriel Canyon, and what looked like virga off to the west. As time went on, the "virga" approached, and turned out, not to be virga, but actual rain.

However, as expected, it was a warm rain, so even when it shifted from a drizzle to shower to actual rain, the temperature remained comfortable.

By the time I got back to my car, the rain shifted back to a shower, then a drizzle, then nothing at all.

The most interesting thing I saw on this hike (besides the rain in July and the dry grasses where wildflowers bloomed only months earlier), was a rattlesnake.

I came across him just before I reached the paved road that leads to a water tower, which is a bit below where the Schabarum Trail goes. He was just stretched across the trail when I arrived, and showed no intent of moving.

Standing about fifteen yards away, I turned on my camera and clicked off several pictures. My camera made it's little beeping noises with each shot.

At some point, the snake decided he had heard enough beeping and slowly turned to make his way off of the dirt road.

Good idea for him, because you can see in the pictures above that there were plenty of mountain bike trails going right where he was. Bikers coming down the hill might not see him until it was too late, and that would possibly be bad for the bikers, but more likely bad for the snake.

About four miles for the day, I would estimate. Fairly strong altitude gains and losses at several points along the way, so I would estimate 300-400 feet of vertical gain and loss on the day.


  1. So far I've been lucky enough not to run into any rattlers. They freak me out.

  2. They only freak me out when I almost step on them, and get warned off by a vigorous rattle. If I can see them from a distance, then they're cool. ;D