Stranded In The Southland

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Another Failed Shot at Smith Mountain, Plus Earlier Hikes

I went skiing two weeks ago Friday, and then I went autocrossing. Then I got sick for two weeks and didn't do much of anything.

I went out Monday and did a short hike up Potato Mountain. At the top, I met this talkative retired hair dresser, Amy. She chattered away the whole way down, which was kind of fun. I was sick enough that the four mile round trip was more than enough for me.

Since I have a death march (15 miles, 4700 feet) up Mt. Wilson on Saturday, I figured I needed to get out and get some hiking done. This will be a hike for the Wilderness Travel Course I started.

I really have had to buy a lot of gear for this class. I picked up non-cotton, wicking underwear and t-shirt, nice nylon pants, a fancy compass with a sighting mirror, and I even got sunglasses. Yeesh. The Sierra Club is really down on cotton (rightly, I suppose), but it was expensive to replace all of my cotton hiking gear with nylon.

Anyway, I wanted to try out all this gear before I was halfway up a mountain, so I headed back to Smith Mountain in the hopes that the road was better off. Sure, Caltrans claimed that it was blocked a few miles from the ranger station, but who trusts them?

Well, I shoulda. The road was blocked a couple of miles from the trailhead I wanted. Bummer. Anyway, I hiked up the road anyway, in the hopes that I could get to the trailhead and maybe get in some hiking. It turned out to be a bit further than I had assumed, so I turned around after going a couple of miles in.

I managed to take a couple of compass bearings on Rattlesnake Mountain and some other promentories, and verify my position. Cool! That map and compass stuff really does work.

Strangely enough, the road was fine as far as I got, but I guess they just close the preinstalled gates where they have to, and just let it go at that. Hopefully it'll all be open soon.

As long as I was up there, I went around to Shoemaker Road, which leads up above the east fork of the San Gabriel River. I had some beautiful views of Iron Mountain and Old Baldy, and the river. Too bad that I stayed so late that I really had to hump it to get to my Spanish class on time.