Thursday, March 28, 2013

Hike 2013.015 -- Sturtevant Falls

Hiked Monday, March 25. For the first time in about two months, I've finally caught up on my hiking blog. Did this one on Monday, and won't be able to hike again until Saturday evening. So, for about 48 hours, I'm caught up.

I was surprised to discover that I hadn't hiked Sturtevant Falls so far this year. In fact, the last time I hiked out of Chantry was September 1, 2012; the last time I was at Sturtevant Falls was August 21, 2012. Amazing!

The trail to Sturtevant starts at Chantry Flat, which is at the top of Santa Anita Avenue. You can take the Foothill Freeway, I-210 to Santa Anita and head north about five miles, until the road ends at Chantry.

From the lower parking lot, walk back towards the road you just came in on, then turn sharply to the left when you pass the restroom. You follow the paved road steeply down to the Winter Creek Crossing, where you'll see a sign indicating the distances: about 1/2 mile back up to where you started, and 1 1/2 miles to the waterfall.

Pretty hard to get lost: Just stay on the main trail, which largely parallels Sturtevant Creek.

There's one stream crossing at Fiddler's Crossing, and one or two more as you approach the actual water fall. On either side of the creek you are walking are numerous cabins. Along the creek bottom are three or four check dams, designed to slow the water and the erosion.

Growing on the bottom of the canyon are a whole lot of Periwinkle, as well as some more natural-appearing plants. There's also a lot of alder, a fair amount of sycamore, and assorted other trees and shrubs.

The waterfall itself is quite tall, substantially taller than Eaton Canyon falls. I've heard 50 feet, and occasionally numbers slightly larger and slightly smaller than that. Because it's got a pretty large drainage, I'm pretty sure there's almost always a flow. On the day I hiked, however, it wasn't running very strongly, considering this is only late March.

Given this was a weekend afternoon, I was expecting it to be pretty empty, but there were still a lot of hikers here (definitely more than when I walked in the fall). There was a boisterous family playing in the pool at the base of the falls, so it was not very tranquil. Still, it was a walk in the forest, and that's always nice, even if the destination was not as peaceful as typical for a weekday.

About 4 miles for the day.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Hike 2013.006 -- Hellman Trail and Peppergrass Trail, Puente Hills Landfill Native Habitat Authority

Hiked Tuesday, February 5. Last of my "ancient" hikes, from when I fell far behind in my write-ups. After this one, the only other one not written up is just from yesterday (as I write this). Since it's a hike I've written up many times and have fallen so far behind, I'll keep the write-up really short.

Just a short hike, a bit over three miles, which I've done many times before. At the time, I was thinking that this would be the first of many after-work hikes--short enough and close enough to my work to fit in between clock-out and twilight. However, the combination of weather, travel plans, and other obligations have made this my only foray of the year into the Puente Hills. I still think I'll be making these hills a part of my spring hiking regimen, but it hasn't worked out that way, so far.

The only variation over my previous two hikes is (in February 2012 and November 2012) is that I did this day's hike in a clockwise direction.

I hiked from Hellman Wilderness Park, which is on Greenleaf, just a block north of Beverly. You can either take Beverly east from the San Gabriel River Freeway (I-605) or Greenleaf north out of Whittier. BTW, if you're further south, near Cerritos or Norwalk, Shoemaker Avenue turns into Greenleaf. If you're coming from the northeast, near Hacienda Heights, Turnbull Canyon Road turns into Beverly.

It's a nice loop, with pretty good climbs no matter which way you take it (but it seems steeper if you go clockwise rather than counter-clockwise).

It was an overcast afternoon. The sun only semi-broke through as it set in the southeast.

Just over three miles on the loop, with the detour up the top of the peak near the midway point.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Hike 2013.008 -- Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area, Nevada

Hiked Saturday, February 16. I'm back to having two additional hikes to write-up. This one was from five weeks previous to my petroglyph/Trail 100/Trail 200 hike. This would also be an example of a perfectly decent hike that was completely not what I set out trying to do. But I'll keep it short.

I trying to get to those petroglyphs I visited last week, but was relying on a book on southern Nevada hikes. Unfortunately, the directions were unacceptably vague, and I ended up walking some canyon about three miles west of where I should have been.

I still got the walking in, and it's not a horrible place to walk (if the weather's cool, which it was). But there were no petraglyphs here.

The book said to exit at Sloan, then head north on the "frontage road" on the west side of I-15. This "frontage road" is better known as South Las Vegas Blvd. I was then directed to look for a dirt road that went around a gravel pit, and to head for the brown electrical transmission towers.

I was then supposed to travel "several miles," then make a right at tower 83. Well, it turns out the numbering system is not two-digit, so the number wasn't very helpful. "Several miles" wasn't very helpful, either. So after I drove "several miles" from Las Vegas Blvd (VERY slowly, because this road is in horrible condition, and I had no business driving a sedan along any part of it), I turned around and slowly made my way back towards the substation.

On the off-chance that the area had changed substantially since the book was written, I decided to walk the trail that headed south from the substation.

After about four miles of heading generally south, sticking with the main trail at each turn, I eventually found myself heading southwest, and no longer in a canyon. Clearly, this was not the right place for the petroglyphs.

So I turned around and walked back. About halfway back to my car, I guy in a jeep stopped by and asked if I was doing okay (probably because no body else was walking this trail, and it was approaching sunset). I decided to accept a ride back to my car.

Chatted on the way back, and eventually figured out how far away I was from where I wanted to be.

About six miles total walking for the afternoon. Much was between tall, rounded hills. Some was out of a canyon, looking across some really flat areas.

In looking back at my pictures, it's interesting that one of them sort of looks like the opposite side of the volcanic plug I saw on Trail 200.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Hike 2013.014 -- Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area, Trails 100 and 200

(Volcanic plug and yellow flower).

[Edit--Note that recent construction in the Inspirada development has changed access to Sloan Canyon. Use the information in this linked post, along with what is written below, for more recent directions to the trailhead].

Hiked Saturday, March 23.

This is the petroglyph hike. It should go without saying (but I'll say it, anyway): DO NOT TOUCH THE PETROGLYPHS. You shouldn't go crawling on those rocks, at all. It's ancient art, and you wouldn't go crawling all over an art museum, would you? In particular, the oils in your hands may speed the erosion of the desert varnish that makes these petroglyphs possible.

I tried to find this trail way back on February 16, as my Hike 2013.008. However, the directions in the book I was using were pretty useless ; it told me to drive "several miles" along a rough dirt road, looking for a power line pole with a number that was in an entirely different format from the ones in the field.
(Looking north from the "parking lot." The concrete wash passes beneath this spot. A large detention basin is behind the concrete structure in the distance).

The BLM also gives directions to this trailhead. My suggestion would be to ignore those directions, unless you just happen to have a high-clearance 4-wheel drive vehicle and you want to test its capabilities for longer and farther than necessary. Instead, I more or less followed this route, one of many places where an alternate, north or east approach (as opposed to the BLM's west approach) is described.

(Looking west from the "parking lot." You start by walking along the service road, which is just to the left of this row of transmission towers).

From St. Rose Parkway (NV-146), head south on Executive Airport Drive. There's a light there. It's about 2 1/2 miles northeast of I-15, and about 2 miles northeast of Las Vegas Blvd. It's also about 1 1/2 miles southwest of Eastern Avenue. After about 1 1/2 miles, you'll pass Volunteer Blvd, where there's a traffic signal. Continue south. Executive Airport Drive is now Via Inspirada. After another 1 1/2 mile or so, the speed limit drops to 15mph, and the road makes a sharp left-turn, and is now Bicentennial Parkway.

(Looking nouth from the "parking lot." The dirt road I took to get here runs just right of the concrete wash you see in front of you).

Hopefully, there's no one following you, because you'll need to slow down and get ready to pull off the pavement, on your right. As soon as you pass over a wash, that's your turn.

(The small sign at the beginning of the Sloan Canyon Access Road, which intersects with the service road, just 1/4 mile west of where you started).

This is NOT Via Contessa. On Google Maps, this is shown as a dirt road just east of Via Contessa, and runs parallel to and just east of the concrete wash. The dirt road parallels the wash for about 200 feet before making a sweeping left turn. You head that way a bit more than 1000 feet before turning south, again. It drops into a small gully as it does so.

(Boundary of Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area).

This is the only area of the dirt road where you'd need to slow to a crawl. Anything without an exceptionally long wheelbase or low clearance should be able to make it through. The rest of the dirt road is otherwise very flat, and cruising along at 25 - 30 mph seemed pretty safe.

(High wall on the east side of Sloan Canyon, somewhat after passing the first junction with Trail 200, but before the second barrier).

After clearing the gully, you climb up the other side, then begin a turn to the left, back along the concrete wash. Parallel it for about 1600 feet, then slow and make a right. Exactly where the road crosses the wash is a spot that seems to be a good parking spot, at least if you're in a sedan. Don't block any of the gates, of course.

(Petroglyph of desert bighorn, which seems to appear in every desert petroglyph grouping I've ever visited).

People with high clearance vehicles can continue on, making a slight right for an easier approach up the very slight incline, then a left, then another right. The road is rougher there, but, at least when I went, it would not be an issue for 2-wheel drive, high-clearance vehicles.

(Extra-terrestrial humanoid?)

Whether driving or walking, you'll need to head west about 1/4 mile, paralleling the brown towers that hold high voltage transmission wires.

(Rubber-armed humanoid or gecko).

After 1/4 mile (and just before you'd reach the powerline with the alleged 2084 number on it), there was a stake with a small sign that indicated the way to Sloan Canyon. This is labeled Sloan Canyon Access Road on Google Maps. If you look towards where this road heads, you'll see it's the first narrow canyon you encounter from the east. This canyon broadens before you, and drops down to join the broad wash that empties into the the detention basin that's just a little upstream of where you (or, at least, I) parked.

(Millipede and gecko or stick human figure).

Follow Sloan Canyon Access Road to the north. You'll pass a sign announcing the boundary to Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area in about 1/2 mile. After another 1/2 mile, you'll reach a very small parking area, and a fence that would keep you from driving any further.

(More rocks with desert varnish, and some petroglyphs).

During my walk from the wash to the parking area, two pickup trucks passed me. On the way out, one ATV and one SUV came in. It's unlikely that anyone else visited the site during the 3 hours or so I was walking in the area, and this was on a Saturday (albeit a March Madness Saturday, so maybe everyone was watching basketball). ;D

(Yellow flowers. Saw a lot of these guys. The flower looks like a poppy, but the plant leaves do not).

The display at the trail head is probably not going to tell you anything you don't already know. There's also a place to sign in, so if you plan on getting lost, be sure to sign in so they'll know where to look for you.

From the parking trail head, continue up the main wash. This is Trail 100. It's the base of a wash, so the going may be a bit slower than you were enjoying on the dirt road. The canyon walls that began narrowing along your walk up to the canyon mouth get even narrower and taller as the wash winds through the canyon.


Three-quarters of a mile after the the trail started, there was a stake in the middle of the wash. To the left was the continuation of Trail 100. To the right was labeled Trail 200. Since Trail 100 sounded like the main way to me, and that way was clearly wider, and the hikers in front of me went that way, I went that way, too.

(Small purple flowers--couldn't id them, either).

Trail 100 was smooth and flat for the next 1/4 mile or so. Then there's a 1/4 segment with a series of "barriers," places where you could not just walk up the sandy wash bottom. The first one had a very obvious trail that headed along the left side of the wash, and was an easy walk up. The second one didn't even leave an impression on me, so I'm assuming it was also a walk-up. The third one, however, is Class 3. It's not a particularly difficult Class 3, and it's a very short segment--one short climb, where you'll either need enough upper body strength to pull yourself up, or someone giving you a boost to your foot to get over some very slick rock.

(Globe mallow).

The description I linked above says you should go up the middle of the barrier, where if you fall, you'll just land on the sand. However, I think most people go up the left side, where there's a lot more rock to grab on to.

After the third barrier, the trail bends to the left and widens, again. The left side is steeper and has a sort of onion peel vibe to it. The right side has large volcanic blocks with lots of desert varnish, and that's where the petroglyphs are located.

(Looking southeast from near the north end of Trail 200. Orange are mallow. Yellows are those poppy-looking flowers).

The petroglyphs continue for another 1/10th to 1/8th of a mile, thicker in some places than others. I stayed on the wash floor because I didn't want to damage the ancient rock art. This is suggested for all.

After the petroglypths petered out, I continued exploring a bit further. Coming around a bend, I saw a huge, tall volcanic plug in the distance. Very cool.

Within an additional 1/8th of mile, I encountered another stake in the ground. This one pointed me in three directions: Trail 100 was the way I came, Trail 200 (also labeled "Cowboy Trail" on Google Maps) was up and to the right, and Trail 300 was straight ahead.

(More fiddleneck).

Since I already knew that Trail 200 intersected with Trail 100 in the direction I had just come from, I went up towards Trail 200. This area had a nice little patch of color. Desert poppies were blooming relatively thickly (for this area, I would presume). Desert mallow were mixed in, as were tiny purple flowers I need to learn the name of.

(Mix of purple and yellow flowers, previously pictured up-close).

This path climbed somewhat steeply and took me a little bit closer (but not very close) to the volcanic plug. Then, before I knew it, I popped over the ridge. Gusty winds, which were almost non-existent while in the canyon, hit me face-on. The Las Vegas Valley stretched out in the distance ahead of me. My trail, meanwhile, switchbacked quickly below me.

Definitely no more than 1/2 mile from the crest back to Trail 100, then on back to my car.
(Volcanic plug, up close).

Just about 2 miles walking on the Trail 100 and 200 loop. Just under 2 miles roundtrip walking the Sloan Canyon Access Road. Just about 1/2 mile roundtrip on the powerline service road. Call it 4.5 miles total for the day. Had I not wanted to take my car off-pavement, that would have added between 1 and 2.5 miles of walking, depending on where I decided to park, and on if my route was not blocked.

(Looking north from top of Trail 200, preparing to descend towards Trail 100. Henderson and Las Vegas in the distance).

My driving route was open, unfenced, and not posted "No Trespassing" as of March 23, 2013. No way to know if or when that might change. In the past, population growth and construction was so rapid in the Las Vegas valley that even road directions would often become obsolete within a matter of months. It's in a bit of a lull at the moment, but that may change. I know the long-range plan is that the City of Henderson will build access roads and trails to get into Sloan Canyon NCA. But, again, no way to know when that might happen.

Can't find my Joshua Tree wildflower fold-out, which might have helped id some of these flowers. If I figure out what they are, I'll go back and label them.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Some amazing wildflower photos

Came across this post on the blog, Avoiding Regret. Definitely worth a gander.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Hike 2013.013 -- Eaton Canyon

Hiked Saturday, March 16.

Things keep coming up to keep me from getting my hiking in. Of course, a lot of these things are good; they just keep me off the trail.

Today, I had only a few hours in the morning to hike because I needed to be back for an appraiser to look at the house. So rather than a drive out to Joshua Tree for some hiking and comet hunting, I needed to do something short. I was still thinking of maybe heading out to the desert in the afternoon, but I'm feeling tired enough now that I'm not even going to make it into the Angeles National Forest for comet hunting, I think. Might do some sidewalk astronomy in Monrovia, though.

At any rate, it was approaching 9a by the time I made it to Eaton Canyon. It's the closest San Gabriel Mountains trailhead from my house, but one I had not been to so far this year.

Settled on a waterfall hike.

Parked on the curbside, Altadena Drive, just north of New York Drive. I figure that adds about 1/2 mile roundtrip to the hike.

They have planted sunflowers along Altadena Drive, and also in the area just north of the visitor center. In both locations, they are blooming like crazy right now.

I snapped a few pictures, then headed down on the trail (which starts just south of the drive way), crossed the driveway, and continued on the trail that stays "behind" the visitor center and west of the parking area. You join the main trail just north of the developed area, near where several nature trails loop in the area west of the visitor center.

Once I emerged on the main trail, I saw the first of what must be a crowd of hundreds. Still had the occasional moment to contemplate nature, but it was very crowded.

The fog burned off quickly, and by the time I reached the wash crossing, the mountains were now easily visible. The ground here was wet, but no water ran. I remember one year, the water ran high and fast here, and the crossing had to be made along a downed tree, well upstream from here. No such problems today.

As I walked on the straight section of the trail that stays east of the wash, I saw the water did not appear on my left until maybe 1/4 mile of the bridge. Still further along than earlier in the winter, but clear evidence that the waterfall would not be running especially high.

Once in Eaton Canyon proper, there are numerous stream crossings. When it's crowded, those stream crossings become bottlenecks. That slowed me somewhat, but it was not an obnoxiously slow way up. And, again, there were moments of solitude, when I could snap a few pictures in the absence of voices not my own.

Upon reaching the falls, however, there could be no illusion of solitude. I count about 35 bodies in several of my pictures of the end, and that's without being able to see into that final bowl where the water falls. Can't quite see the edges of the base area, either. I would expect well over 50 people where there.

So I snapped my pictures from a distance. No need to walk any further; it wasn't going to get better. Then I headed back. Again, a few bottle necks, but also lots of my time to get to my regular pace and try to burn some calories.

I'll call it 4.5 miles for the day. Still enjoyable, if not far too crowded for my taste, but hardly surprising, given it was a weekend morning with excellent weather.

Still have two hikes to write-up. May or may not be able to do that before my next hike. That one won't be until at least Thursday, since I have evening commitments Monday through Wednesday, and I work all day tomorrow.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Hike 2012.012 --- Rubio Canyon and Bailey Canyon

Gotta keep these short, because I'm just falling too far behind in my blogging.

Hiked Saturday, March 9. I actually hiked Rubio Canyon as my 11th hike of the year, as well. I returned after a night of very heavy rains, thinking the falls might be more active this day.

First, I headed to Bailey Canyon. That's north of Carter Avenue, just west of Lima. I've described getting here in the past. Search here or google elsewhere.

Bottom line: Still just a moist drip on a wall. I was really expecting a better flow after all that rain, but I guess it still hasn't made up for the dry winter.

Next, further west, to Rubio Canyon. I finally figured out the least-turns way to get here. Take Altadena Drive north. After Eaton Canyon, and vicinityh, Altadena Drive becomes an east-west running street.

Right after the first stop sign past Eaton Canyon (Allen Avenue), take the next right (Tanoble Drive). It's a narrow, residential street, so drive appropriately.

Turn left at the stop sign. That'll be Loma Alta.

There are several deep dips in this road, so, again, drive slowly, especially when you approach the signed dips.

Your road will turn to the right, with a concrete detention basin on your left. When it makes a sweeping turn to the left, the road changes name to Rubio Canyon Drive.

Right where the change from Loma Alta to Rubio Canyon occurs, there's a small road that heads north. Google Maps says it's Camp Huntington Drive, but there is no name on the ground.

You can't park on that road, nor on the adjacent Loma Alta or Rubio Canyon Roads. Instead, continue another 100 yards, to Rubio Crst Drive. Turn right and park there. Then walk back to your trailhead.

Or, if you want to get the falls and have a shorter, less-steep hike, drive on up to Rubio Crest. Turn right at the corner (Rubio Vista Drive), then look to park when Rubio Vista parking when your road makes a 90-degree left turn and changes name to Pleasant Ridge Drive. There's a trailhead between the two houses on the hill-side of that corner.

From the trailhead I took, it adds probabably 2/3 of a mile roundtrip to the hike, and probably 120 or so of vertical feet.

I've blogged on this hike before, so nothing to add.

Waterfalls were still low here, too. Didn't bother with the higher falls. Just headed back after the first two.

A few wildflowers were blooming. The Western Wallflowers I saw last week were still there. Also photographed mountain lilac, wishbone, and the first lupine I have seen in a while.

Short three miles for the day, between the two hikes.

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Still way behind on writing up my hikes. On Tuesday, I drove up the Angeles Crest Highway and viewed comet PanSTARRS from the side of the road. Looked great in binoculars and with a telescope. But I forgot my camera.

Yesterday, around 7:30pm -8:15pm, I stood out on my west-facing balcony and took a whole bunch of pictures of PanSTARRS. Here's one of them. My DSLR is zoomed in to 200mm. Tried a bunch of shots at various ISO and shutter speeds. Basically, about ISO 800 and 1/4 second seemed to work pretty well.

I'll try to get back to my hiking blogging before the end of the weekend!