Stranded In The Southland

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Off To The Mountains...

It's been over 100 in LA these days, so I decided to head for the high mountains to get in some more comfortable hiking.  Usually I fill up the car before heading into the wilderness, but this time I decided that the 120 mile round trip to Mt. Baden-Powell probably wouldn't be a problem with the less than four gallons I had in the Prius (at 45 mpg, it should go 180 miles).

Alas, who knew that the laws of physics applied to the Prius?  Climbing from 1,000 feet to 8,000 feet kinda took a bite out of the mileage, and I was in a hurry to hit the mountain and didn't fill up.  I'd had a restless night before, thanks in part to the cat jumping on my belly at 3AM, claws and all, to inform me that he was ready to go out.

I bought a new annual pass, and headed to Baden-Powell.  It was already nearly 1PM, and I'd promised to pick up M. at the airport at 7PM.  B-P is a six hour hike.  Hmmmm.  I fell back to a simpler, shorter hike that was off the beaten path and bagged Mt. Lewis (bringing me up to 71 peaks scratched off the Hundred Peaks List).

It was a really short, but killer-steep hike, reminding me how out of conditioning I am.  It was beautiful on top, with a gentle breeze and fantastic views of the desert.  Not only that, but there were a couple fairly fancy looking sailplanes soaring overhead, grabbing some lift from the thermal that was creating a little cap of cloud a few thousand feet over the mountain.

To my surprise, even from a few hundred feet below, I could definitely hear the wind whistling over the gliders.  It was kind of eerie and keening, but definitely audible.  How cool!  I so need to learn to soar!

I figured that one easy peak wasn't enough, so I bopped down CA 2 towards Mt. Wilson, hoping to pick off Krakta Ridge and maybe see some of the evidence of last year's Station Fire.  I got to the burned trees, took a bunch of pictures, and then headed back to Krakta Ridge.  On the way back, the gas gauge took a dive to one pip (one gallon?), making me wonder about whether I'd make it back to the nearest gas station.  Since the dealer had replaced the ECU last week, I had my doubts about whether this was perfectly calibrated, anyway.

I started up Krakta Ridge, but eventually bailed as it was uniformly steep, and I figured that if I ran the car out of gas, I'd need some extra time to get to the airport.  I wound up nursing the car through miles of wonderful twisties, going 20 mph under the speed limit, in the hopes of making it out.

To my delight, there were many downhill sections mixed in, and I finally coasted in to the gas station with at least half a tank, and plenty of flop sweat everywhere.  I guess this is why I always fill up the car before heading out into the great unknown.