Stranded In The Southland

Sunday, March 12, 2006

A Few Hikes

Last weekend, I co-lead a hike, substituting for the person who mentored me into being a leader. She was off in India, helping run a medical mission, so it was tough to turn her down. :-)

It'd rained the day before, so we wound up sticking to the roads in a big suburban park, with one quick venture onto the dirt. It was a pleasant hike, with nine pleasant folks, although not particularly exciting.

I was a little bummed that I couldn't get up into the snow-covered mountains that day, but it was probably a good thing to take on that hike. I won't feel quite as guilty next time if I can't make a hike I've proposed.

Fortunately, I got up at the crack of dawn on the following Monday and drove up to Manker Flat to hike up to the Ski Hut. Unfortunately, there was a whole bunch of ice right where the trail branches away from the dirt road, so I turned around.

This weekend, we've had amazingly cold weather and plenty of rain, with lots and lots of snow up in the mountains. I headed up around noon (we spent the night before in LA) to check it out.

Chains were required just north of Baldy Village; I'd bought a set for the Miata last year after getting stuck in the snow of the ski area parking lot. I grew up in Florida -- I'd never put chains on my car before.

I pulled into a snowy parking lot to install the chains. To my surprise, I discovered that it was tough to carefully turn the wheels when they slip and slide on the snow. Not too bright -- you really need a dry spot to put on the chains...

After pulling up the road a bit, I found a mostly-dry spot, and spent an entertaining half-hour installing the chains. It's a bit easier in my driveway at home -- the freezing weather and the blowing snow don't help much.

For all that trouble, I didn't actually find any snow on the road until the last half-mile or so. It was a noisy five mile drive up the bare asphalt with the chains clanking like tank treads.

In any case, I was hiking by 1PM or so, in nice foot-deep powder. Well, it'd been pretty well trampled down, so it was easy to hike in and I just carried my snowshoes instead of using them. I clambered up to the start of the Ski Hut trail, but turned shortly thereafter, worried that my car wouldn't be able to get out if more snow fell.

It was gorgeous up there with the clouds still blowing in, huge flakes falling, and plenty of snow on the ground. Woo hoo.