Stranded In The Southland

Monday, December 06, 2004

Random bushwacking up steep slopes...

Yow, while hiking up Lawler with Brooks, he mentioned a Monday morning off-trail hike. They meet at the same place as the Wednesday hikers, La Canada Road, but they just decide where to go then and there.

I left the house slightly before 8AM, and yet again found myself arriving late! Doh! I got there at about 9:01AM, just as the cars started to leave, so I followed the last car up the road. The group split in two, and the final two cars took Angeles Forest Road way up into the mountains. I was getting all set to turn around, afraid that they were going all the way to the desert, when they finally pulled over.

I introduced myself, and everybody seemed pretty friendly. I'd kind of lucked out, as the other two cars were apparently full of snowshoers. Nobody was very specific about where they were gonna hike, but just sorta headed up a steep gully by the road.

I was starting to get a bit worried, as this was extremely steep, but eventually it leveled out a bit and I managed to catch my breath. It was kinda weird to be pushing through brush like that. I enjoyed it, though.

We eventually made it up to a paved road that evidently went to Mt. Gleason, then walked down to another ridge, and headed down. The ridge eventually got pretty steep, but Brooks and some others had been ahead, and it wasn't too tough to follow. All in all, it was a fun hike, and a great chance to get some off-trail experience.

Circle Mountain and Gobbler's Knob

This past Saturday, I went up Circle Mountain and Gobbler's Knob with George Wysup and Tom Hill and a whole Sierra Club crowd. It was definitely fun, although we wound up slogging through a whole lot of snow.

The bank claimed it was 35 degrees out in Claremont when I headed to the meeting point. All Friday, I was sick to my stomach, so I'd eaten a piece of toast, some plain pasta, and drank four liters of cola. I started off the day with some soda, and immodium. I was so enthusiastic about doing the hike that I was just hoping the immodium kept me plugged up.

George was very friendly, and we had a nice drive up to the trailhead. Because of ice and snow, we couldn't drive too far down the road, and had to walk an extra half-mile or so to get to Circle Mountain. It was fairly steep, but since the folks ahead of me were postholing down into the deep snow, I managed to keep up okay. From the top, we had a great view out to the desert, and of the line of peaks to our south.

Tom opened some champagne to celebrate his 200th HPS lead, and we spent a few frozen minutes congratulating him, before heading down. We then headed over to Gobbler's Knob. In times of better weather, you can drive within one mile of the peak, and just climb up the steep final slope to the top.

Heh. Not this time. We probably hike three miles through snow and ice just to get to the base of that final slope. After making it that far, it was a bit of a strain to make it up the steep final slope, over a small saddle and up to the final summit. It was worth it, though, as we had a fine view of the back of Baldy. Very cool.

As weather was blowing in, we had a very quick lunch, then headed off as fast as we could. The ice and snow were fairly slippery, and most of us went down at least once. I think I fell a total of four times, myself, but it didn't hurt much. A few folks had lugged snow shoes up there, and they managed to come down with no problems whatsoever, beating all the rest of us handily. I gotta learn how to do that!

This group was slightly less talkative than some of the others I've hiked with, but they definitely get out and hit the peaks!