Thursday, February 5, 2015

Hike 2015.008 -- Josephine Peak Via Josephine Fire Road (2N64)

Hiked Sunday, February 1. The Tom Harrison map for the Angeles Front Country gives the distance as 3.9 miles each way.

This trail is entirely on a fire road, which means it's wide and easy to follow, There will also likely be mountain bikers on the trail, so keep an eye out for that.
The trailhead is on the east side of Angeles Forest Highway, just feet north of its junction with Angeles Crest Highway. From the LA area, you'll probably take the Foothill Freeway (I-210) to Angeles Crest Highway, then head north. Turn left at Angeles Forest Highway, and immediately look for parking.

The area is not signed for an Adventure Pass.

From the trailhead, you walk past a gate and a sign for Forest Road 2N64. And you follow the road. No other instructions are required.

There is only one actual trail junction, and the intersect-ing trail is clearly NOT a fire road. The trail heads right, towards Strawberry Peak. You stay on the fire road, which curves behind Josephine Peak, then eventually reaches its summit.

As you come around the corner of the mountain and first see behind the front range, you may be startled by the barrenness of what lays below you. That area took a real hit from the Station Fire, now over five years ago. It's actually "greened up" quite a bit from three or four years ago, but there's still far less vegetation on that side than there used to be. It's still really sad to think of all that went up in smoke that year.

Fortunately, Josephine Peak was somewhat on the boundary of the burned area, so while there are many tree skeletons you'll see, many of those have already fallen, to be replaced by re-emerging plans. In some pockets, older tree survived the flower, so there's still good cover in one ravine you pass on the way to the top.

Seeing on the day I summitted was mixed--Extremely clear to my north, but haze from downtown L.A. towards the sea. Outstanding views in all directions, though.

To the southwest, you can see to the Ocean. To the south, you can easily see Santa Catalina Island. I'm not sure because of the haze, but on a clear day, you might even be high enough to see over Palos Verdes and see the water that separates Santa Catalina from the mainland.

To the southwest is Mount Wilson, with other peaks partially obscuring the mountain, but the domes and solar telescope towers visible in the distance.

To the east and east-northeast, I could see Mount Baldy (Mount San Antonio), still covered in a winter layer of snow. To the north is Angeles Forest Highway, with some nice wiggles along the way. Northwest and below is Big Tujunga Reservoir.

West is Mount Lukens. Oh, yes, and if you look down towards where you came from, you can see the intersection of the Angeles Crest and Angeles Forest Highways.

Meanwhile, up at the top, you can see the support anchors for what un-doubtedly was a fire lookout. That's been removed. In its place is a camera. Not sure if the camera can be panned and slewed about, but I would tend to think so.
There's also a small structure, which I assume contains the power and the controls for the camera and the transmitter than sends information the camera and probably weather information on down to civilization.

Just below and to your north is a helicopter landing target, and a trashcan. I guess it makes sense, but it's funny to have a single trash can all by itself, on a mountain top.

I spent a fair amount of time, just shooting pictures of the view from up here. Turns out I had the top to myself.

I wasn't sure if this would be the case, since there were about eight cars parked near the trailhead when I started, about two hours earlier.

However, as is my habit, I tried to keep track of probably car-loads of people. So there'd be a couple of hikers going down, then a few more, then a pair of mountain bikers, then I passed a slower-moving pair of hikers on the way up.

Without actually having precisely counted cars at the start, I wasn't 100% sure, but by the time I passed three hikers coming down as I neared to within 1/2 mile of the top, I was pretty sure all cars had been accounted for.

Four mountain bikers had passed me on the way up, but it seemed like all four were turning off towards Strawberry Peak. So, yes, when I got to the top, it was just me and the wind.

I often say I'm not anti-social, and I'm not. But, on a relatively small mountain top, I feel bad if my presence might intrude on other hikers, just 5-10 feet away. So I enjoyed my time alone, at the top of Josephine Peak.

I passed numerous hikers heading up on my way down, but still, I doubt there were more than 8 or so. And this was on a very nice Sunday morning slash afternoon.

By the way, the third- and fourth-from-the-last pictures are of Griffith Park. I often try to see if I can see the Observatory from my hikes. In this case, I was thinking maybe the angle would not let me see it, but there it was.
Distant, but still distinct. The flat-top of Mount Hollywood was more obvious from my perspective; the dome, I wasn't sure about until after I was able to view the pictures in a larger size. The third-from-last photo is a crop of the one before it, by the way.

Wonderful day of hiking. I sort of wish I was able to have fit in a second hike that weekend, as I'm still hoping to return to a 100 hike year. Two one-hike weekends puts me back a bit for the moment, but I have some optimism of being able to pick up the pace of hikes int he months to home.

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