Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Hike 2012.051 -- Above Little Santa Anita Canyon

Hiked Thursday, July 26. This was another late afternoon hike. Probably should limit myself to simple, known hikes when time is short, and save the exploratory hikes for earlier in the day.

My initial plan for this day was to hike up Little Santa Anita Canyon, then take the side trail that heads out from just after the look out point towards the ridge line. However, as I started up the hill, I noticed there was a trail right near the start (immediately after the No Camping Here sign) that headed up the ridge line. I decided to see if this trail would also lead up the ridge line and clear up to Jones Peak.

The first part was pretty straightforward. I walked what was once a fire break, swiftly climbing up the ridge. I gained 150 feet or so in short order. At each level point, I could look over to the north and see the main Mt. Wilson Trail, down below. I seemed to be going where I wanted to go. However, after reaching a second high point, the trail then descended into thick brush. There were still use trails to follow, but the going was slow and steep.

Heading up the next hill was just impossible. Well, not literally impossible, but difficult enough that I was sure this was not going to be easier than just taking the long way. After only heading up maybe 30 vertical feet, I elected to turn around.

It was a bit of slow picking to find a safe way back down, then back up the previous ridge, to where the trail was more clearly defined.

Fortunately, this area of trail is dry, meaning there's no poison oak to worry about.

One thing I did get to see on this detour was a really large dragon fly. However, my stupid camera could not focus on the object. This was a reminder of why I want to replace my current camera with a dslr. I want something that will either focus better, or give me the option of manual override, so I can focus on the damn insect myself. Instead, I got about 10 fuzzy pictures.

In all, this proved to be about a one-hour detour to get maybe a mile of horizontal distance.

Still, this left enough time to get some regular walking in, so I headed up the Mt. Wilson Trail, then took the little detour trail (after the lookout point, which I mentioned in the previous post).

This branch headed back down the canyon, losing a little altitude as it moved to the south. Before long, this trail split, with one branch rapidly descending back to the Mt. Wilson Trail. The other branch stayed a little higher, but also gave up some altitude as it headed to the southernmost point of the ridge line. Despite the narrow thread with which this trail began when it left the Mt. Wilson Trail, it soon became broad, with lots of reinforced engineering: Deep metal stakes supported a wire mesh that made this possible.

At several spots along the way, I saw caches of additional trail building materials: more metal fence stakes, more wire mesh, picks, shovels, and the like.

Once at the ridge line, I saw no inviting path heading up the ridge. Of course, by this time, I was in no mood to look very hard for a way further up.

By contrast, heading down the ridge was a choice of trails. One ran more or less straight down. The other weaved nice switchbacks, crisscrossing the direct trail like a strand of DNA (though single helix, not double!).

After about 1/2 mile, I popped back on to the main Mt. Wilson Trail.

This was a curious discovery. Not sure what the trail builders are trying to accomplish. I can say (after my next hike, which I will blog over the next few days) that, if they're planning to go all the way up to Jones Peak, they've got a HECK of a long way to go, and up some very steep and unforgiving terrain.

Since the regular way on the Mt. Wilson Trail to First Water and back is 3 miles, I'm calling my adventure for the day a 4 mile hike. Strange thing is that the pictures make the way up the ridge seem so much easier than it actually is. More about that in the next post.

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