Stranded In The Southland

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Mt. Emma, Old Mt. Emma, and Mt. Gleason

The weather was beautiful this weekend, and I figured I needed to get out of the house at least once. I also figured I might as well pick off a few more of the Hundred Peaks. The recent heavy snow on the high peaks and my late start meant that I was looking for something lower down and easy.

Mt. Emma fit the bill -- I could pick it off, along with the nearby Old Mt. Emma, all while going six or so miles. It turned out to be, like so many Hundred Peaks hikes, a mostly off-trail excursion, straight up the side of the mountain, at about a 45 degree angle.

It wasn't nearly as tough as many of the other peaks, though, Mt. Emma is very near to the desert, with mostly grass and a few low shrubs. It looked like it had burned within the last few years, as well. I didn't have to push through any heavy undergrowth, and I could see my destination the whole time.

Once up to the top, the view was great, and I felt refreshed from the slog. I then just had to traverse along the ridge to get to Old Mt. Emma. The ridge had some really steep bits, but they didn't go on for too long, so that wasn't too tough.

The tough part was the cold, cold wind hurtling up the slope. It was probably blowing 20 mph, and it was really chilly. I wound up wearing every piece of gear I owned -- rain pants on over my regular pants, thick fleece and rain jacket on top, and even my extra pair of socks on my hands!

Okay, it probably didn't *require* the socks on my hands, but it sure made things much more pleasant. The view from Old Mt. Emma was entirely worth the trouble -- I could see mountains on all parts of the horizon, looking out over the Central Valley. The air was clear enough that I was probably seeing 50 or 60 miles!

I then headed back, taking a not-particularly brilliant shortcut down to the road, rather than go back up and down along the ridge. I wound up with over a mile to hike on the road, which kind of sucked, but it was fun to successfully shortcut -- my shortcuts haven't always worked out in the past.

On the way home, I took the 9 mile drive to Mt. Gleason, and made a short, quarter-mile hike up to the summit. It was bitterly cold up there.

I noticed lots of little white bits on the ground. On closer examination, they proved to be ice. All of the trees were encrusted with ice, and as the wind blew, the ice broke off and cascaded down. It was really fun to see this happen, and the ice was small enough to not bother me at all.

The pines were just beautiful, with their needles totally encrusted. Sadly, I'd left my camera at home, and I was freezing, so I just hopped back to the car and got out of there. Still, I was delighted to have seen it!

Leading a Hike up to Orchard Camp

Oh, man, I didn't realize how long it had been since I blogged! I took a job in late October, and that sorta slowed everything else down. I had hoped to write a nice long essay about my year off, but I guess it just never came off.

Getting a job can put a real dent in your blogging, hiking, reading, TV watching, -- just about everything. Bummer. I'm not totally convinced I picked the right job (I had a couple on the hook), but I'll make the best of it and see how things go.

Anyway, I have been getting out for a little hiking. A couple of weeks ago I got up early to go on sombody else's provision hike, since they'd been to mine and I wanted to make sure that there were enough folks. The hike was well attended, so it was no problem.

Then, last week, I led my first hike as a official leader last week. The hike was arranged by the other leader, so I wasn't too familiar with the trail, having hiked it just once. Then I wound up in the lead.

Fortunately, the trail from Sierra Madre up to Orchard Camp is extremely well marked, and just all around easy to deal with. I wish that I had some more fascinating details to share with the hikers, but it seemed to come off okay, anyway.

We had nine hikers start out. A few of them were fairly slow, and as we'd advertised this as a leisurely hike, I felt that I had to keep the pace down. Unfortunately, I kept speeding up and leaving folks to fall off the end.

That's what a sweep is for, but it still meant that I had to stop fairly frequently to make sure that we didn't lose anybody. It wouldn't do for something terrible to happen when I was too far off the front to know.

Anyway, it was a fun hike, a beautiful warm day, and an all-around delight.