Saturday, May 29, 2010

Hike 64: Inspiration Point

Hiked Friday, May 28. Four days since my last hike, which makes this one of my longer layoffs so far this the year. I kept having little midday tasks or thinking I had little midday tasks that made getting away for a hike difficult. And I knew I wouldn't be able to hike on Saturday, so even though I had a noonish dentist appointment, I decided to try to fit in a hike to Inspiration Point.

Didn't get to the trailhead (Altadena, top of Lake Avenue, at Alta Loma) until about 2:30pm. Fortunately, the days are long and the hike is short enough that I figured I had plenty of time even with the late start.

My last time up this trail was way back on January 17, as Hike #9 for the year. I don't think I ever wrote it up.

One of the nice things about this hike is that the end sort of sneaks up on you. The pavilions are hidden most of the way, until you round a bend maybe 1/3 of a mile from the destination. Then you're happily confronted with the sight you see in the picture at the top of this post. That gives you a nice kick of adrenaline to finish the last little climb.

When you get up to the pavilion, you'll see these sight tubes, pointing out various things that, when it's clear, you can see from Inspiration Point. I get a kick out of the one for Inspiration Point. :D

Big changes since January. My January hike was in cool weather. It was overcast and drizzled a bit on my way down. Because of the clouds, I didn't have much of a view. But I could see enough on the otherside to see that the Station Fire had left a large part of the watershed behind Inspiration Point as a wasteland.

Now, at the end of May, there are plenty of signs of life. The trees and larger bushes are still dead, but there are some grasses and smaller bushes that have grown in, softening the appearance of the area north of Inspiration Point. This view is to the northwest.

Meanwhile, the shot below looks to northeast, towards Mount Wilson.

It was also clearer. Despite the haze, Santa Catalina Island was easy in the distance, rising above Palos Verdes. Downtown was also brighter, because the evening sun in the summer is north of the civic center. Rather than being visible only in silhouette, downtown appears brighter (but still distant).

Something else I didn't notice last time was that the circular foundation of Echo Mountain's water tank is also easy from near the top.

Similarly, when it's clear, you can see part of the pavilion from down near Echo Mountain.

Meanwhile, the flowers in bloom had changed somewhat. Sage, which has been blooming for several months, is still in heavy bloom. Mustard, too. Photos of some of the other flowers I saw are at the end of this post.

On the return trip, I diverted about 1/10th of a mile to see the remains of the "White City" on Echo Mountain. I've hiked here a number of times, but it's still a nice diversion. Surprisingly (to me), even though I got back there sometime around 6pm, I had the place pretty much to myself. So I took a few shots of the rail platform and stairs leading up to the hotel. Then I headed down the last 2.5 miles or so to Lake Avenue.

On the way down, I passed probably 20 people heading up. That's still fewer than I expected on a nice evening like Friday.

The signpost at Inspiration Point say it's 4.7 miles to Lake Avenue. Adding the short diversion to Echo Mountain on the way down, I figure that makes it at least 9.5 miles roundtrip.

Some wildflowers I spotted along the way:

Unknown purple flowers, which I saw on the lower part of the trail, where there was an exposed drainage running into the Sam Merrill, and near the top, with similar conditions.

The pictures below include (in order): Globe Gilia, larkspur, miniature lupine (with overexposed dime for perspective), purple clarkia, and yellow monkey flower.

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