Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Hike 17: Duarte to Mt. Bliss and White Saddle

Hiked February 7. On my computer, I have a little thumbnail-sized slideshow that continually runs on the corner of my screen. When I'm on line, I can watch the little pictures go by and think about what ever it is I'm looking at. Earlier tonight, the picture at the top of this post popped up. I couldn't remember where I took it, so I had to call it up and figure out where I had filed it.

Fortunately, since February, I've been filing my hiking pictures in a very rational matter: There's a big folder called "Hiking 2010." Within the big folder are separate folders for each hike. This one was in "Mount Bliss and White Saddle, Feb 7." I used a picture of White Saddle in an earlier post, on Monrovia Falls. Also, I wrote up a later hike to Mt. Bliss as Hike 23 But I hadn't previously shared the picture at the top.

The trailhead I used is well-hidden, in a residential area of Duarte, just a bit west of Fish Canyon. A website description of the trailhead just said it was "at the end of Melcanyon (one word) Road" (where it intersects Brookridge), so that's where I parked. To get to Melcanyon Road, I took the 210 freeway to its end, turned right at Huntington Drive, then left on Encanto Parkway (the same road you'd take to get to Fish Canyon). From Encanto Parkway, I turned left on Fish Canyon Road, then right on Melcanyon to its end.

There was no obvious trail or trailhead there, so I just walked into the hills, then along a small concrete drainage ditch that paralleled the foothills. Eventually, it popped up near a gated driveway that led to a water storage tank. Behind the storage tank, an old but well-defined trail headed further into the hills.

Incidentally, I later discovered that this paved road or driveway ran right down to Brookridge, so bushwacking along the drainage ditch was unnecessary.

After about 1/8 of a mile, this trail leads to a large barren area. Several use trails lead out of the barren area, but one well-defined trail heads to the north. In about 1/4 mile, the trail hits Van Tassel Mountainway, a well-defined dirt road that is closed to public use, but available for SCE and other contractors to access the mountains. High tension wires are a ubiquitous feature of this hike.

I simply followed the dirt road. It eventually works its way behind a couple of larger hills, one of which is Mt. Bliss. From the back side, there's a short trail to the summit. The summit is marked by a thin but tall plastic marker. Good views from up there.

I continued all the way along the dirt road until I reached White Saddle. Signage there indicated I could have continued 4.8 miles down from there into Monrovia Canyon, and that it was 6 miles back to Fish Canyon Road. I also crossed path with a bobcat. This was the first of two memorable wildlife encounters on this day.

From White Saddle, I turned back around and returned the way I came. By the time I reached the ridge with the powerlines, the sun was already going down. With another 45 minutes or so on the hike, this was not good. Walking down the dirt road was easy. But finding the point where the trail intersected with the road (and then finding the point where the correct trail back to the water tank headed out from the barren area) was impossible. This forced me to continue all the way down on the dirt road, out to Encanto Parkway.

Getting from Encanto Parkway back to where I parked my car was a little tricky, because, at the time, I didn't know the name of the road that ran into Melcanyon Road. But I did know there was only one row of houses between my car and the mountains, so I stayed as close to the mountains as I could.

By now, it was fully dark. In fact, it was fully dark before I even reached Encanto Parkway. Walking west along Brookridge, as I approached a corner. From behind a shrub, a skunk was heading north on a sidestreet. We practically walked into each other. Fortunately, the skunk turned around without unloading on me.


  1. You should frame that one. Looks amazing.

  2. Thanks for the comment. Yeah, the color is just so un-southern Californian, isn't it?

    Funny thing--when I look over my pictures, I see that I've done a lot of hiking in cloudy weather. :D