Sunday, November 21, 2010

fish canyon

DUARTE - The mouth of the canyon is owned by Vulcan Materials. Their public relations people bill the company as "the nation's largest producer of construction aggregates" - which they define as "primarily crushed stone, sand and gravel."

Vulcan Materials is the latest owner of the mining operation at the mouth of Fish Canyon. It's been there since the 1920s or 30s. Vulcan Materials allows access through their property from time to time, with a van shuttle to a trailhead. The access calendar current as of today is here.

The last time Vulcan Materials allowed access was Saturday Nov. 13. A few miles in is Fish Canyon Falls, described by author and historian John W. Robinson as "one of the top natural attractions of the San Gabriel Mountains." The tarantula was at the base of the falls eight days ago.

The falls plunge "some eighty feet in stairway fashion," Robinson says in his popular guide "Trails of the Angeles." The view above is before the sun crept into the canyon.

The Fish Creek watershed is regulated by the dam keeper at Cogswell Reservoir on the West Fork of the San Gabriel River, so it's unclear how much natural runoff contributes to the falls.

The canyon is shaded in places by sprawling oak and other chaparral species.

There is an alternate trail up and over the ridge pictured to reach the canyon trail and the falls. Some locals say it is steep. Robinson says "the hike into the canyon and on to the falls is no longer the easy walk it once was."

The Vulcan Materials calendar for the "Azusa Rock Project" does not list a date for the next time access is allowed through the quarry property.


Photos by Guy McCarthy


ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST - Three weeks ago there was a little snow on the walk from Vincent Gap up to Mount Baden-Powell, a few miles west of Wrightwood.

Most of the trail switchbacks upward through tall evergreens to a high ridge, where the so-called "elfin forest" begins. Here the Limber Pines are more exposed to the wind and other elements.

Snow and ice underfoot combined with alpine glare to make the traverse interesting. This view is just below the 9,400-foot summit.

There is a tree up there estimated 1,500 years old.

Today this ridge is likely blanketed with a bit more snow.

Photos by Guy McCarthy

Sunday, November 14, 2010

gale-force baldy

Sunrise tints a ridge on San Antonio aka Old Baldy

MOUNT BALDY - Gale-force winds rake the high east end of the San Gabriel range from time to time, and they did again today.

Before sunrise at Manker Flats, gusting winds out of the northeast roared down canyons aligned with the blasts, but the bulk of Mount Harwood sheltered most of the Ski Hut-Baldy Bowl trail.

By 9 a.m. about 3,000 feet higher up the winds had more room to maneuver, and people walking steeper sections of the trail skirting the Bowl paid attention.

At 10 a.m. on the 10,064-foot summit, the high point in Los Angeles County, walking and standing were challenging tasks. Wind-speed estimates among those on the mountain top ranged from 50 miles per hour sustained to 70 mph gusting.

National Weather Service meteorologist Todd Hall, based in Oxnard, defined gale-force winds this evening as 39 to 46 mph.

"Forty-seven to 54 miles per hour is what we call a 'strong gale,' " Hall said in a telephone interview.

Further west in the San Gabriels earlier today, instruments at Chilao measured 30 mph sustained winds with 42 mph gusts, which also qualified as gale-force, Hall said.

Conversation below full-on shouting on Baldy's summit today was difficult, but descriptions of conditions up there later included the words "scary," "intense," and "freezing."

Most who summited around 10 a.m. took refuge behind several knee-high rock barriers cobbled together long ago for shelter from the winds.

A bit later in the morning, others headed to the top bundled in scarves, headbands and gloves.

Aside from the winds it was a crisp, clear sun-drenched day, and a few decided to dress light.

These folks were heading down and glad to be warmer below the Ski Hut.


Photos by Guy McCarthy