Monday, March 12, 2012

Hike 2012.012 -- Hacienda Hills, Puente Hills Landfill Native Habitat Authority Land

Hiked Sunday, March 11. From Seventh Avenue trailhead via Coyote Trail and Skyline Trail.

I took a short hike this afternoon. Decided to use the Seventh Avenue access because the ones from the south, I can visit after work.

To reach the trailhead, take the Pomona Freeway (CA-6), exit to Seventh Avenue north, and take it to the end of the road. There's a very small parking lot just north of Orange Grove Avenue, and a much larger parking area to the south. It's the same trailhead I used on my first hike of the year. There's a link to the trialhead map on that other post, too.

According to the Native Habitat Authority map, it's 1.35 miles from the trailhead to the ridge, where the Coyote Trail intersects with the Skyline trail, and 570 feet of altitude gain. Once at the junction, I headed east along the Skyline Trail to Turnbull Canyon Road. That took a little over five minutes, so it's about 1/4 mile each way. Figure on a total of 3 1/4 to 3 1/2 miles roundtrip for the day.

Because the Coyote Trail is on a north-facing slope, it's a lot moister than those facing south. That makes it greener and cooler than on the other side of the ridge. That means even if it were warmer, rattlesnake encounters would be less likely on this side than on the other side.

On the other hand, unlike just a few years previous, it wasn't very warm. High tempera-ture on Sunday was only supposed to be in the mid-60s, some 20 degrees cooler than on Friday.

I still walked in shorts and a short-sleeved shirt, though with my sweater tossed over my back so I could use it on the downhill return hike.

As you climb, the white roofs of the many corporate offices and warehouses of the city of Industry sprawl out behind you. Off to the west-northwest, the Puente Hills landfill and the Nike missile site I visited at the start of the year are visible.

The San Gabriel Mountains naturally spread across the north, though it was hazy enough on Sunday that you really didn't notice them too much.

Lots of sights to share on the way up and back. First, a large-eyed rabbit. Later, many, many, many flowers. The wildflowers were not dense and did not carpet the hill in any way. Still, there was quite a variety of flowers, many of which I did not recall the names of. Among those I did recognize were monkey flower, Queen Anne's lace, blue-eyed grass, bird's eyes, common vetch, lupine, black nightshade, purple nighshade, and wild mustard.

In addition to the "pretty" flowers, I also noticed that the poison oak was in bloom. I guess I've photo-graphed that before, but it's still kind of odd to think about it.

Turned around as the sun approached the horizon. I could not resist taking as hot of my shadow on a below-the-horizon shrub. It's an old stunt, but still one I can rarely resist.

Both heading up and heading down, I kept an eye out for rattle-snakes, but saw none. I did see a falcon or small hawk that repeatedly dived below the tree-line, probably just to stay away from me.

About 2/3 of the way back down towards Seventh Avenue, I heard what sounded like a large animal walking through brush in the distance. I peaked over the ridge and looked across the ravine. One deer stared right back at me, while three of his friends kept eating.

I snapped a number of shots. However, because the sun was already below the horizon, it was getting pretty dark. When I zoomed in, the camera's shutter speed was down to 1/10th of a second. That meant all my zoomed shots were varying degrees of blurring. Turned out my first shot, with a wider view and a faster shutter speed, was the best. With that one, I could crop it, reduce the brightness, and get a good result.

(For some reason, when the background gets dark, my camera tends to overexpose everything. It's counter-productive, because exactly when I want the fastest shutter speed, my camera is over-exposing, and wasting light).

The cropped shot is at the top of the post; the uncropped shot is down here.

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