Thursday, July 24, 2014
Hike 2014.034 -- Mt. Pinos from Ski Hut, Los Padres National Forest, CA
A number of years ago, I wandered up to the parking area near the top of Mt. Pinos and saw the most amazing sight: A field, covered in iris. That was in mid-July, four years ago. So I got to thinking that maybe it might be time for irises, again. So, the next change I got, I returned to Mt. Pinos.
here, in this older post of a hike to Mt. Pinos and Mt. Abel.
Feeling in much worse shape than when last I hiked this area, I was pretty sure I was only going to go to the Mt. Pinos viewpoint, and not continue on to Mt. Abel.
It's just about a 99 mile drive from my San Gabriel Valley home to the Nordic Ski Hut parking area on Mt. Pinos. Long drive, which usually means you want to have some time for a hike, or for after-hike activities. For me, that usually meant setting up a telescope and observing from the closest seriously dark-sky location to my home.
The final thing that (usually) makes this a great location for night sky observing is the portapotties. No, that's not quite civilization, but it sure makes life easier when the toilets are just across the parking lot. Then you don't have to worry much about being figuratively in the middle of nowhere.
There are pit toilets not too far from the parking lot, but the point of having them in the parking lot is that this is where the telescopes are going to set up. Having to walk in the dark even a few hundred feet off the parking lot and to the camp area is a hassle, and one that seems crazy to me, given what a popular dark sky location Mt. Pinos is for the entire southern California astronomy community.
It wasn't the dense field of blooms I saw four years ago, but there were a goodly number of individual blooms, all nicely formed and colorful.
In addition to the iris, western wallflower were common under various trees, both here and further along, when I got on the regular trail.
This "trail" is actually a dirt road. Apparently, it was paved not all that long ago, and you could just drive on over to the viewpoint that is at the end of this trail. Now, generally, the gate is locked, and it's a hiking trail.
At the end of this trail is an overview. If you're interested, the trail continues from the lookout towards the north, dropping into a valley, then continuing on to Mt. Abel.
The other outhouse still has three of its walls, but not the door. When I was there, a black cloth covered the top half of the door opening, which means it sorta covers the wrong half. But that's the way gravity works, right?
On the way back, I took a detour to the solar panel / antenna array that's on top of the actual summit of Mount Pinos.