Saturday, May 16, 2015

Hike 2015.036 -- Schabarum Trail, Turnbull Canyon Drive to Hacienda Blvd

Hiked Saturday, May 9. It's been a while since my last significant hike from here. Apparently, it's been five years since I walked much of this area. Apparently, it's also a lot greener a month earlier!
There's an annual star party I help support at a school up this way, so when ever that rolls around, I think of the Hacienda Hills. Unfortunately, this year's party got clouded out. Twice! Crazy year. So, no star party. But I was still thinking about the local hills.
My initial plan was to hike from Turnbull Canyon Road to the Hsi Lai Temple, then walk aruond there for a while. But, as so often seems the case on weekends, I got started too late for the whole plan to play out. Still, it was a pretty tiring walk.
The Schabarum trailhead on the east side of Turnbull Canyon Road is just south of the high-point for the road. It's a bit winding, and there are often people who are just driving the road for the sake of driving it. There's also motorcycles and bicyclist on the road, so you need to keep an eye out for all of these vehicles, sharing the road.
From the road, the trail head up to near the big power trans-mission towers that are part of the Tehachapi Renewable Power Transmission Project. There are large plastic balls on the wires, which make a loud humming noise, and I think are designed to help warn-off large raptors that occasionally get fried on lines like these.
Heading to the east, there are two trails that join in from the south: Workman Ridge trail and Worsham Canyon trail. Those two trails themselves form a nice loop of about 3 1/3 miles in length.

For the most part, the Schabarum (also called Skyline) trail runs along the divide between Whittier and Hacienda Heights. Earlier in the year, there are large swaths of the area covered by thistle, wild mustard and wild radish. By now, however, there weren't many flowers, at all. It was mostly just dried annuals remaining on the flatter, open areas.
In the deeper, less-accessible ravines, oak and walnut trees are more common. Down in those ravines, I assume that's where the deer hide out during most days. But, during twilight, I've often seen deer out in the open.
Because of the overcast day, the deer were out late, though still a bit skittish, and they kept their distance from me.

I walked to an overlook where I could see the Hsi Lai temple. This required a couple of street crossings. Two of them were small, but crossing Colima is a bit trickier. There's also a tunnel beneath Colima, but that's a little creepy.
Given how tired I felt after I finished, I'm assuming I covered between 6 and 7 miles, though it might have been less. At times, the trail is quite narrow, with homes on one or the other side of you, sometimes quite close.

I returned the way I came. By then, it had slightly cleared, and downtown was visible through the fog. Earlier, it had been entirely invisible.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Hike 2015.033 -- Huntington Library and Gardens, San Marino, CA

Hiked on Saturday, May 2. No, not actually a "real" hike, although there was plenty of walking where cars cannot drive. In that respect, it's sort of a hike.
I basically circum-navigated the gardens, then added a little loop to try to make it three miles. It was sort of an impromptu thing--my Saturday was getting away from me, and I didn't feel like making a longer drive to a hike destination.
I also figured it was fall, and things might be blooming. Hadn't planned on making it a mostly-humming-bird hike. But as I looped through the desert section of the gardens, there were plenty of flowers with narrow openings, perfect of hummingbirds and ambitious honeybees.
Bumble-bees and larger bees can't get their fat bodies into the buds to reach the nectar, nor, apparently, can butterfly tongues. That makes them a buffet for the small and the long-beaked, alone. (Incidentally--small bit of trivia-- an old English word for "bumblebee" is dumbledore. Presumably, JK Rowling thought the old headmaster of Hogsworth's looked like a bumblebee in his wizarding getup.
Most of the shots are 2x crops. This one here is one of the few with the full, uncropped frame. The one before it is a crop of this one.

I liked both because this one shows more color surrounding the bird, while the other crops help produce a bird with sufficient body size to be interesting.
With my lens and camera combina-tion, it seems like a 2x crop is the best mix of decent object size while retaining enough image sharpness to be compelling.
I also knew that shooting somewhere north of 1/1000 of a second is necessary to freeze the wings, at least at the up or down-beat. But, depending on the lighting and attempts at maximizing color saturation and depth of field, I sometimes had to drop below 1/250th of a second. Not an issue of the bird is perched still, but usually means a mass-less blur of wings. Still, the head body can be mostly frozen at that shutter speed, and it can capture some nice feather detail and texture.
Shot a *lot* of pictures in a relatively small area of the grounds. Or, put another way, I walked some pretty large sections without taking anything that seemed post-worthy.

Takes some patience and strategy to do this shooting. Some of that is due to the birds, while some is due to my fellow humans. Because, what I think I've discovered is, humans have a desire to see something special.
So, what I've found often happens is, people who are otherwise taking very few pictures and walking along at a typical pace will often stop and take an unusual number of shots right in front of where ever I have paused to set up.

Well, the non-paranoid take would be that they see the same sight I see and are trying to catch the same picture.
Except, often, that can almost certainly not be the case. I'm zooming in on something in a way that their phone camera can not possibly do, or using back-lighting or side-lighting to get colors or textures which, again, they can't possibly be getting, or trying to capture a reflection that only works exactly where I'm standing, and doesn't work as well even if you're right in front of me, or any number of specific strategies I might be working.
I actually sort of learned this by an unfortu-nate other photographer, whose image I was obstructing (unintentionally) when I first started shooting this scene. He stood back and out of the way, and used a very long lens to get his shots. I wasn't even sure he was aiming for hummingbirds until I noticed he was still standing off in the distance after a number of attempts on my part.

Once I saw what he was trying to do, I stepped off on one of the side paths, which probably made things better for both of us.

I didn't have a enough, fast enough, sharp enough lens to shoot from where he was, but I did find that if I stood on my side-path rather than the main path, people for the most part passed out of the line of shooting a lot faster. On the main path, they could see you were trying for something from a distance and spent a lot of time watching as they walked, trying to get your picture. But if you're on the side, they often don't even notice you. Or, if they do, they assume (correctly, it turns out) that you're trying something too specialized for them to bother trying to emulate your shot.

Well, I know from past experience that feigning a lack of interest or a focus on something to the side doesn't always work, but it worked pretty good here.

About three miles of walking on a Saturday afternoon. Enough to count as a hike.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Hike 2015.029B -- Big Dalton Canyon to Above Mystic Canyon Trail, Glendora

Hiked Sunday, April 19. Five miles. It's been a long time since my last hike on this trail--about four years, it would seem.

This area got some heavy visitation from me during my first two 100 hike years. This was because, at the start of the year, I was looking for low-altitude hikes. Also, later that first year was the Station Fire, and that closed off most of the Angeles National Forest, so I had to try other places.
More recently, however, it just hadn't hit my radar. I guess that's because it's a little far to drive from my home compared to what I can see--it's basically the same appearance as anywhere in the front range of the National Forest, or the canyons of the front range, and I've got several alternatives with similar scenery that I can get to more quickly than here.
But this is a different place, and so it was always out there as a possibility. Then, recently, a facebook friend who lives in the area had posted pictures from trails off of Glendora Mountain Road, and it got me thinking about this area, again. And so, just about two weeks ago, this trail became my destination.
The trailhead is off of Big Dalton Road, which braches east off of Glendora Mountain Road, just a few blocks north of Sierra Madre Ave. However, it had been long enough since my last visit here that I could not remember how to get here. I took some sort of round-about way.

Instead, from the west, I should have taken the Foothill Freeway (I-210) east, to Grand, then headed north to Route 66, then Route 66 east, to Loraine, then north on Loraine, to Sierra Madre Ave, then north on Glendora Mountain Road, to Big Dalton Canyon.
As noted, I took a different route. On the plus side, my route took me past "The Donut Man," which I made a note of, with the intent of stopping here on the way back.

"The Donut Man," by the way, is a bit of a local celebrity, having been visited by Huell Howser on several occasions.

Somehow, my father had heard about this place a few weeks back, and was talking about wanting to try some of these crazy donuts that people lined up for all morning long to get.
So the plan, was, once the donut shop was located, I'd continue on to my destination (Big Dalton Canyon), take a short hike, then return to pick up those donuts.

Things did go according to plan.
I started my hike at Big Dalton Canyon camp-ground. I've never come by this place when any of the facilities were open, and today was no exception. So I parked my car, crossed the little footbridge, then walked "downstream." There was no running water in this creek bottom, which is pretty much the norm, at least in my experience.
There were a few puddles of water here and there, but, mostly, there was little beyond muddy patches. There were a few flowers blooming here, but not much. And, mostly, it was just phacelia.
After heading down-canyon for about 1/4 mile, I passed another access point, where the Mystic Canyon trail begins. It begins steep, and climbs rather quickly up out of the canyon.
A link to some of the trails in Big Dalton Canyon is linked here. It doesn't quite fit all the places I hiked, though. The Mystic Canyon section is there. The map then shows it intersects with the Lower Monroe Trail. However, the only signage I saw further up was for Dalton IHC. I don't know what IHC stood for. But where the trail split, I continued up the gentler incline before it re-crossed the steep Punk Out trail. Then I took the Punk Out trail back down to Mystic Canyon Trail, then back to my car. I'll estimate 3.5 miles for the day, give or take 1/2 mile.

Stopped at got my donuts on the way back. Pricey, but delicious.

Not much hiking over the week since my Oak Glen trip, and not even time to blog the hikes I've already done. Feeling a bit under the weather.