Stranded In The Southland

Monday, March 28, 2005

Mt. Markham & Mt. Lowe With JEP

My buddy JEP was in town with his wife and kids to visit the in-laws for the holiday weekend. Lucky for me, he managed to get away for a few hours to come hiking with me on Saturday.

JEP has (inexplicably) been reading along in the blog as I've been picking up HPS peaks, so he was up for bagging one or two. I figured that Mt. Markham and Mt. Lowe would just fit the bill, since they should afford a good view of the Southland and shouldn't be too big a deal.

There was still room to park at Eaton Saddle, but barely -- this is a pretty popular place on weekends! We had a very pleasant hike up through a tunnel along an old road, and then came out on a saddle, with a water tank right above us. Some passing hikers assured us that this was Markham Saddle, and that Mt. Markham was to the north of us, but they also suggested we consult our map. Good thing, because they were definitely smoking crack.

Instead, we headed roughly south on a nice little trail marked as the way to Mt. Lowe. It eventually decamped into Markham Saddle, from which we hiked north along the ridge. Yes, this meant that we were doing some backtracking. Oh, well. There was a use trail back at the water tank, but given that I felt crummy, I really didn't want to guess about where the trail was going.

The trail we took, for all that it was well marked, was pretty dang steep, with a little bit of scrambling over rocks, and both JEP and I had to stop a few times to catch our breath. Once at the top, though, it was worth it -- Markham is very rocky, and it was cool to look nearly straight down a cliff into the valleys. JEP was delighted with the geekiness of the whole Sierra Club peak register, and happily logged our ascent. We also took a bunch of pictures (it has been my habit of late to snap a shot of the register log with the name of the peak, so I can keep track of this stuff).

After we staggered back down, we decided to go ahead and pick off Lowe. This was an even easier hike, since there was a wide, comfortable trail heading up there that didn't appear on my topo map. Woo hoo. JEP was a little bummed that we couldn't find a register to sign, but we took several pictures and just hung out for a bit, enjoying each strange new party of folks who came up the trail. It was pretty busy.

We had a great hike down, drove down, and had a fabulous sandwich from the Armenian joint on foothill, just southwest of the intersection with CA 2. What a find -- these guys serve large, cheap, good sandwiches!

Then we went back to the in-laws place and hung out with R., JEP's wife, and his two kids. Yeesh, both of 'em are growing up fast -- I last saw the oldest as a three-year old, and hear she was ready to start kindergarten! And his son, a little bundle last I saw, was a happy two-year old running around the house with a big-ass grin on his face. Woo hoo.