Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Hike 43: Echo Mountain and Rubio Canyon

This is basically the reverse of my hike #7, except I connected the two trailheads by using the Altadena Crest trail rather than the surface streets. This may have added a slight amount of distance but it was more pleasant because there was less time spent walking on pavement.

It's 2.5 miles from Lake Avenue to Echo Mountain. I'm pretty sure I have already said this is the hike I've done more than any other. My plan today was just to do quick up and back. Lots of sage in bloom on the way up. A couple of broom plants were also in bloom, way down at the start of this hike. Some lupine on the way up, and a large whitish flower (looked like a white version of a sego lily, but I'm sure that's not what it is) at the top.

Once I got to the top, I was "called" over to the other side, so I descended into Rubio Canyon. Turns out it's a lot easier to follow this trail down hill than it was to go up hill.

Part of the ease is because it's DOWNHILL. Rubio Canyon is steep, and going up a steep hill is obviously very tiring. Also, when going down, you can see the whole trail laid out below you, so it's easier to stay on the surprisingly well-defined trail. There was only one place where I got off trail. The going got suddenly more difficult, so I backtracked and figured out where I left the trail.

At two points on this trail, there were short bits of rope tied to trees to help with the ascent or descent. However, I did not find it necessary to use them, which is probably a good idea. They are looking pretty ragged.

Once at the bottom, I worked my way up stream, past Moss Grotto and Ribbon Rock Falls. I went up the steep and gravel-covered canyon to the right of these falls, up to what I call "left turn rock." It's a largish rock that by no means blocks access up this side canyon, but does indicate to me that it's time to make a sharp left turn, on up through the deer grass and to the top of the rock outcropping that provides a wonderful view of Thalehaha Falls.

The water was WAY lower than the last time I was here. I discovered that the sluice that is Thalehaha Falls creates an odd optical illusion when the water is low, as it tends to funnel a lot of its water to the viewer's left. It makes the falls look like it's tilting to the right.

I returned down the steep hill. On the way down, a woman and her daughter were working their way up. The daughter was gathering native plants for a biology taxonomy project.

On the way back downstream, I discovered that I was tired, hungry and thirsty. I also discovered that my balance suffers when this happens, and I splashed my self pretty good on one of the stream crossings. Fortunately, the sun was out and my boots did not get soaked.

After about five minutes of laborious (for me that day) stream crossings and a short climb, I quickly made it down the more-or-less level trail to the Rubio Canyon trailhead, down Rubio Crest Drive and to the Altadena Crest Trail. I zombied my way up the trail, took a drink of water from the fountain when I reached the Sam Merrill trailhead, then slogged back to my car.

On the way back down, I stopped at the Popeye's Chicken on Lake and bought a ridiculous quantity of "leg and thigh for 99 cents" Tuesday specials. Got home and pigged out on fried chicken. So much for losing weight on from all the exercise!

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