Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Hike 2014.026 -- Echo Mountain

Starting writing this post a week ago, but, just as I'm not finding much time for hiking, and I'm finding much time to blog.

This was my first hike in three weeks. That's probably the longest I've gone without an official hike (more than three miles, off-pavement) in four years.

In the interim, I did take a few short walks, either just around the block, or to the Huntington Gardens, or to Santa Anita Park. So I was not entirely sedentary. But I was way less active than I have been in the past. And, as past experience has taught me, a body at rest tends to stay at rest. It was tough to finally feel ready to hit the trail again.

As is almost always the case, once I finally get on the trail, I feel good. Nonetheless, because of the long layoff, I walked slower than normal.

I initially intended to hike to Henninger Flats. However, I had just barely started when I heard a Sheriff's Department announcement from a radio car: "The park closes today at 7pm). Did that mean they were going to lock the gate at 7pm? It's supposed to be locked at sunset, and there's usually a grace period, so I was thinking I'd have time (even leaving after 5:30pm) to get to Henninger and back. But the announcement spooked me, so I walked back to my car, and then drove west on Altadena Drive, over to Lake, then on up to the Echo Mountain trailhead.

Not a lot of density of flowers, but I photographed most of what I saw.

No pictures of some primrose near the start. But, other than that, pretty much everything I saw is here. First up was the phlox. Pretty and purple. I often wonder if these flowers were what the Start Trek people were thinking of when they named that character on ST: Voyager. Well not *really* often. But once in a while.

Then, a yellow flower I've seen and learned before, but could not find a name for this time around. Then some purple penstamon.
Next, some very orange-y monkey flower.

There were also plenty of wild mustard, though I don't photograph that very often. Don't want to reward the invasive!
As you gain altitude, the San Gabriel Mountains rise before you. I always love the color of the mountains when the sun gets low. The hikers to give perspective to the size was nice, too. Not by design, though: They just stopped at the point and left me no choice but to include them in my picture. Not complaining about that, though.

The next flowers on this parade of wildflowers after this mustard) are golden yarrow, desert poppies, black sage, and blue dicks.
After that, its mostly pictures of the "White City."

This trail is one I've walked probably more frequently than any other. It's also probably the first trail I ever hiked in the Angeles. It's a good length what a nice payoff at the end (the "White City").

Yet, despite these many return trips, I still see new things here. On this trip, I noticed what looks like a lot of restoration or conservation going on at the White City.

Walls that did not seem apparent in past trips have been cleared and partially re-stacked. Other rocks have been laid out to set off the man-made structures more obvious.

The best time to visit, in my opinion, is near sunset.

This trail looks to the south, but with good visibility to the west, as well. You can watch the sun a long time, and watch the long, warm colors of the setting sun affect the appearance of the walls of the old resort here on Echo Mountain. You can also watch the shadows of trees on those same walls. It's just an all-around great place to watch the sun set.

The other nice thing is, the trail is now very well improved and easy to walk, even in poor light.

That's not to say you can ignore where you put your feet. You still need to pay attention, of course.
However, with the clear trails, and the bright lights of the city below, if you can add a moon (which was there the evening I hiked), no flashlight is necessary, at least not until you're quite near the end, and the canopy blocks out those lights.

So, when I go, I typically try to start down pretty much as the sun sets, and can usually make it to the trialhead by the end of twilight.

Yet, wheat I have noticed is, even as I am heading down, others are heading up. Apparently, many people either spend the night, or at least some amount of time after dark up on this trail.

In total night (as opposed to twilight), flashlights might be helpful. My suspicion is, you'd only really need them at the end. But, being risk averse, I would tend to want to head down by sunset, to get off the mountain by the end of twilight.

Not much else to say. The hike was a success. I enjoy my time on the trail, although it really took some effort to get myself out of the house and on the trail for the first time in so long. Roughly five miles of hiking, and, as I recall, about 1200 feet of vertical gain. Perfect for a late weekend afternoon. Or even a weekday afternoon, if you can get up here early enough.

No comments:

Post a Comment