Stranded In The Southland

Monday, June 15, 2009

Angeles Crest Reopens

[Apparently, 90% of blogs haven't been updated within the last 120 days. Guess I'd better get on it.]

The Angeles Crest highway just reopened, after nearly five years. Woo hoo!

This is an amazingly twisty 66-mile drive along the crest of the San Gabriel Mountains, climbing up to 7,900 feet on the way. It's less than an hour from LA, but you feel like you're in a different world, with swirling clouds and rocky cliffs and tortured old trees everywhere around you.

This is a classic drive -- it's one of the first things I did when we moved to LA. The motorcyclists definitely know all about it. Unfortunately, that first year in LA saw some amazing precipitation, and the road got washed out.

It was wonderful to have a chance to get up there again. I bopped up I-15, past the towering and wonderful and weird Mormon Rocks, and up 138, and onto CA 2. I zipped through Wrightwood to delightfully light traffic (I'd figured that everybody and their uncle would be taking advantage of the reopened road to haul ass, and had waited a month to let the craziest folks get their yah-yahs out).

The road is totally repaved, so it's a beautiful fresh black ribbon heading up into the mountains. The few cars out were either moving quickly or happily used pullouts, so it was a great drive. Once past the newly reopened section, the road surface wasn't quite as new, but it was still beautifully maintained (especially when compared to the roads in our old Koreatown neighborhood of LA!).

Southern California has been in the middle of June Gloom, with a continuous low overcast, so the mountains were a wild mix of clear blue skies and clouds rolling over peaks and through passes. There were even a few brief sections were there was enough fog to get me to slow down, but they passed quickly.

I paused briefly at Mt. Baden-Powell for a quick hike; it turns out that I'm still out of conditioning, despite hiking the last four weekends. I started kind of late (2:30PM) and was more interested in driving the crest in daylight than in re-bagging this peak, so I wussed out and bopped down the mountain after about an hour of slogging up. Just a half mile or so from the bottom, I managed to take a fall and bang up my leg, for the second time on this peak. No big deal -- it certainly didn't slow down my driving on the way down. What a day!


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