Stranded In The Southland

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Mount Hillyer, Mount Mooney, Mount Sally, and Barley Flats

This was a fun little set of hikes, designed mostly to bag a bunch of peaks. These were quick and easy hikes, but it is kind of boring to do a bunch of easy peaks by yourself. Going in a group really makes it much more fun. Don and Cheryl, who led the hikes, were simply great -- they were fun and relaxed and got us right to the peaks.

Mt. Hillyer was a bit tougher than the rest, because the road up was closed, and we had to hike a few extra miles to get to the regular, easy trailhead. It was a quick and easy hike; the most strenuous part was the hike back on the road to the cars, which featured some sustained steep bits. The peak itself was, as promised, pretty straightforward.

It was really a beautiful day, so we got some good views as we hiked and drove around. Mt. Mooney was just a short hike on a jeep road, but we could see out to Catalina Island and beyond, because of the clarity of the day. Cheryl taught us all an important lesson by checking the directions and looking a compass (mine) before heading out -- we almost took a trail to a completely different peak! As it was, poor Keith managed to cut his thumb pretty well on my knife while trying to carve a better point on the register pencil.

Mt. Sally was very close to the road, but was tough to find. Don and Cheryl managed to nail it the first time, but I don't know how -- the trailhead was almost invisible. Mt. Sally was actually pretty steep, and required a long traversal of a ridge up to the top. Once up there we had a great view of the entire LA basin, though.

Finally, Barley Flats turned out to be fun. Don had told us that it would take us 15 minutes, then really got us going at the trailhead by claiming that it was going to be five miles roundtrip. Cheryl backed him up completely with a perfectly straight face. Of course, it was an easy and quick hike up past some old army barracks (from when this was a Nike Missile base) to a ridge. The asphalt road up to the trailhead was relatively unmaintained, but I had to admit that I had a fantasy on the way up about running a hill climb there. It looked perfect for a nice time trial!

All in all, it was a great day. The leaders were fun and well organized, my fellow hikers were pleasant and laid back, and the weather was perfect!