Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Hike 2014.040 -- Mill Creek Canyon to Morton Peak Fire Lookout, San Bernardino National Forest

Hiked Sunday, July 20. I celebrated the anni-versary of the Apollo 11 moon landing with a hike. Well, okay, I would have hiked even if it wasn't July 20.

I came across this hike by accident. I was looking at my San Bernardino National Forest recreation map, looking for a hike I had done before. Came across the red line of a trail that I had NOT done before, instead. I googled the name of the peak, and came across several hits, which I read, and found promising.

Here's the Summit Post entry.

And here's Nobody Hikes in LA's entry. In terms of directions to the trailhead, this one is more accurate. I didn't not reset my odometer, but 2.3 miles from the Mill Creek ranger station to the turn for this trailhead is definitely a more correct distance than the "about 1.5 miles" on Summit Post.

At a mere three miles each way, it would be an easy half-day hike. Also, the unsea-sonably cool weather meant I could do this hike even though it is basically unshaded and at relatively low altitude.

As noted above, the trailhead is off of CA-38, about 2.3 miles past the Mill Creek ranger station. It's on the left, and it's the only road-looking left turn you'll come to once you're within the canyon.

You drive up the road maybe 100 yards, and there's a small parking area. There's a metal gate beyond, though it is my impression this gate is usually not locked. So, if you have a high-clearance vehicle, you might be able to drive the first bit of the trail. If you're a fire lookout volunteer, of course, you'd have the key and would just drive right up to the lookout.

The small purple flowers pictured above were growing on a bush right around the parking area. I did not see this plant any where else along the hike.

BTW, you may note my trailhead picture no longer includes a red car. I traded in my Saturn L200 for a Toyota Prius. Not sure if I've mentioned that, yet. I'm not sure if this car will prove as well-traveled as my old car. Only time will tell.

The first maybe 1/4 mile of this hike takes you under some live oak, but, after that, you're walking among chaparral, and there is essentially no other shade until you get to the lookout.

It being well into summer, there weren't a lot of flowers blooming. Even most of the California buckwheat I saw had already gone to seed, as had the daisies, here.

Because of the atypical marine influence today, when the wind blew, it was a cool and moist breeze. It felt great.

Yet, there was also quite a big of clouds. Indeed, on my return leg, after noon, it looked like thunderclouds were building pretty strongly above the mountains to the north.

You'll see that most in my first picture of this post, with clouds that, in this case, either looked like an elephant or a cat, playing with a toy.

In the previous shot, however, I caught a cloud drifting behind San Bernardino Peak. I thought it made it look a little volcanic.

After about 1.25 mile, I came to another, open gate. I'm told that this gate is normally locked, unless there are firespotters up on the peak. A sign here pointed the way to the lookout, again.

It was a quite a distance further along before I got my first view of the lookout. It revealed itself suddenly, as I looked up after rounding a turn. I also crossed the Santa Ana River trail, which came in from the left. You'd figure it must also continue some where on the right, but I did not reach it. Perhaps you needed to take one of the fire roads further up in the mountains?

From that first view, I'd estimate it's still another 1/2 mile, at least, on the dirt road, before it loops back around and to the summit of Morton Peak.

The lookout is not too far off the ground, although the steps are narrow and steep, so, if you do walk up the actual lookout, be extremely careful, and use your hands.

Whether from the look out or not, there's a great panorama of mountains and urban-ization around you. However, because of the marine influence, my view was a little hazy. It was still a nice view, but not as distance and expansive as I've seen in other pictures.

The volunteer lookouts invited me up, so went up, and accepted their offer of a bottle of water. I had tape water with me, but the bottled stuff looked better. I should probably have tossed a dollar bill into their donation glass, but, being somewhat dimwitted, it did not occur to me until later.

After about ten minutes of chatting and walking around the perimeter of the lookout, I made my way carefully down the stairs, then to my car.

On the drive back, I stopped in Mentone. There's a produce market / fruitstand thing in town that I often stop at. I bought some avocado, strawberries, and oranges. The avocado wasn't ripe, so I haven't eaten that. But the strawberry and oranges were both crazy-sweet.

No comments:

Post a Comment