Monday, June 29, 2015

Angel Peak - 6/28/15

Instrument Array Apparatus on Angel Peak

A Particularly Messy Scramble in AtBF Canyon

Descending a Ridge on Wooden Pole Powerline Road

Starting Out on Telephone Canyon Road
 Brutal! The heat! The shadeless road! The mean loose-rocked steep hills on the descent! The very brushy bushwhacking! Otherwise, it was a great day in the mountains! ... And, we found a great canyon!

Nine adventurous hikers started out at the bottom of Telephone Canyon Road in the Spring Mountains NRA for an exploratory hike. We were out to find another route to Angel Peak; that little peak set behind the Spring Mountain Youth Camp that has all that technical apparatus on top.

Bushwhacking over to AtBF Canyon
 After hiking up the Telephone Canyon Road around half a mile, we turned to the right into the bushes and trees heading for the next canyon over.

Enjoying the Narrows of AtBF Canyon
 We climbed a bit then dropped into the wash beyond. At first, the canyon was wide and shallow.

One of the Scrambles in AtBF Canyon

AtBF Canyon Narrows
 However, very quickly, the canyon narrowed down and we found ourselves in a new place. We liked it so much that we decided to call it AtBF Canyon! We will definitely revisit this canyon in the future. Limestone walls narrowed and created four or five seven foot scrambles. Some of the climbs were water polished but we enjoyed the challenges. There was very little evidence of this canyon being popular with other hikers but we did see one small fire ring and a few aluminum cans.

Another Scramble
 We helped each other when we needed to as there really weren't any options other than to conquer the walls.

Helping Scramblers

Excellent Hideout for a Mountain Lion
In one section, above the canyon wash on the right side, there was a long cave-like overhang. This is where the small fire ring was found. It also looked like a great place for a mountain lion to be hiding! The wash, itself, was mostly clear of brush and trees along the narrows section of AtBF Canyon. And, some of the trees were fantastical material for a Lord of the Rings movie!

The last scramble, the messy scramble, was the most difficult but not impossible.

Janet Hikes up the AtBF Canyon
 Brush covered the wall and an old log needs to be used to surmount the first level of the wall. The log seemed sturdy for us but it is always good to test such things before putting your weight on them.

Approaching the Messy Scramble
 Some of us found that a step up on the log, then sitting on the ledge was a working technique. Standing up on your feet afterwards is probably the hardest part.

Top View of Messy Scramble

The Canyon Wash Widens
 When the hike exits the canyon narrows, the wash widens and becomes more brushy. We stayed in the main wash for a little further.  We were following compass directions, GPS directions and our nose. The writer felt secure that we would end up on the peak! She just wished that the peak wasn't so far up there!

Our Target Peak
 Eventually, after we spied the bubble-topped peak up to our right, we had to exit the brush of the now-shrunken wash and enter the brush of the steep hill to the right.

Bushwhacking from the Wash to the Steep Climb
 We exited the small wash when brush and a rock wall prevented us from going further.

View from Bushwhacking Climb

Approaching the Paved Road on Angel Peak
This was a miserable bushwhacking section with thick dry wood. Still heading in the direction of the peak, we finally broke through the brush and headed up the very steep hill below the peak. The BLM has cleaned this hill of thick brush but it was of little consolation. The front hikers waited on the guard rail of the paved road above while the last hikers climbed up. We still had almost a mile of paved road to climb that circled up to the top. Views from the road were massive.

The last part of the climb is very steep.
 We were past the Spring Mountain Youth Camp on the road so we didn't run into any signs telling us to Keep Out! Two work trucks passed us with a wave.

Waiting for Everyone to Arrive

Finishing the Climb on the Paved Road
 As we circled around, we saw all the various instruments and antennas. We could see the SMYC down over the hill. At the top, we got our close up view of the large white bubble dome and took our break in a large enough sliver of shade next to a building. Discussions had already been made about the descent but it was decided to take the Wooden Pole Powerline Road back down to the lower elevations. This is a rocky dirt road that hugs a ridge undulating steeply. The footing was absolutely treacherous.

Things to See on Angel Peak
 After the break, we went back down the paved road then turned to our left ... DOWN.

Tired and Hot on the Peak
 Little did we know that this dirt road would be our undoing. There was extremely little shade along the road and the steep loose rocky slopes seemed never-ending. And, oh, did I mention that it was probably around 90 degrees in our present elevation?

Route Down as Seen from the Paved Road

Wooden Poles along the Powerline Road
 Yep. We were hot. We were tired. And, we were all barely making it with our water supplies. Long story short, we descended the endless road until we saw our way to bushwhack across to the BLM fire station which was about a quarter mile down Kyle Canyon Road from our cars. A few of the hikers went ahead to retrieve the cars while the rest of us struggled to make it to the fire station. Dehydration is a terrible thing. Be careful out there!

11 miles; 3000 feet elevation gain; 6.5 hours

The Road Goes and Goes

Finally, the Descent off of the Road and Ridge

Getting a Little Help from a BLM Officer, Zack

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Sequoia National Park Excursion - 6/ 20 thru 22/15

Group Photo at the General Sherman Tree

Maria Hugs a Tree
 Three days in June were a real treat for sixty club hikers. It was the long anticipated hiking excursion to Sequoia National Park coordinated by the totally organized and thorough Jerry Thomas. (There are, at least, sixty club members that thank you Jerry for your preparations and leadership. All accounts are that they had a fantastic time.)

On the day of arrival, all participating club members met in a meeting room at the Three Rivers Comfort Inn to talk about the upcoming days of hiking and photographing.

This entry contains photos from the hike that occurred on the next day; The Pillars of Hercules. Most of the hikers participated together on this moderate 5 mile hike among the Sequoias and a group photo was taken at the General Sherman Tree as seen at the top of the entry.

Tree hugging seemed to become a fun sport among some of the women.

Most of the largest trees had names like the grouping of Sequoias seen in the left photo.

(Since the writer is piecing this entry together on information received through several different email and photo submissions, please email her if there are any corrections to be made. Thanks. K)

The Sequoias are BIG!

Hiking Among the Sequoias

 Lakes Trail
Heather Lake

Setsuko in Wildfowers
 This entry contains photos from two hikes that occurred on the second day of hiking; The Lakes Trail and Alta Peak. Both hikes began at the same trailhead off of the side road called Wolverton Road and shared the first half of the hike on the same trail. There were a few wildflowers still in bloom but the report was that everything looked very dry. Still, upon reaching the lakes, they saw that there was enough water around to slake the thirst of local wildlife.

Hiking the Lakes Trail

On the Lakes Trail Heading Back with the Watchtower in the Background

Alta Peak

Alta Peak Summit Photo

View of Lakes Trail from Alta Peak

 Home & Wildlife
The Hotel where the Group Stayed in Three Rivers, CA
 There were several bear sightings but no attacks. It was reported that the bears were all busy eating berries and such, therefore, not interested in those silly annoying people. Other wildlife that was seen included many deer, marmots and grouse. One hiker saw a bear cub. Luckily, the mama bear was nowhere to be seen or things could have gotten ugly.

One day, two hikers could not resist a climb to Comfort Inn peak, as seen in the photo to the left!

Cub - Where's Mama?

Deer with Interesting Head-dress

Sneaky Marmot

Bear Lurking

 Prescribed Burn in the Area
Prescribed Burn Up Close
 Unfortunately, the air was not crystal clear due to a prescribed burn in the park. One hiker got close enough to take the photo to the left where a few flames can be seen. She also saw several firemen around. When other club members climbed to the peaks over the weekend, the smoke from this fire could be seen. (See the photo below.)

Two other hikes that occurred over the three days were Moro Rock and Paradise Peak. It is unclear if the group hiked the entire Moro Rock Loop or just climbed up from the nearby parking lot. But, it is clear that the Paradise Peak hike was definitely the most difficult hike of the excursion. See a photo below for a group of proud mountain climbers on Paradise Peak!

Smoke Rises from Prescribed Burn as seen from Paradise Peak

 Moro Rock
Moro Rock

View from Moro Rock

Climbing Moro Rock

 Watch Tower Rock & Paradise Peak; Tokopah Falls; Etc.
Hiking to Heather Lake

Tokopah Falls
 Joan added some commentary about the other groups of hikers.

Sixteen ABF hikers took a “moderately strenuous” hike to Heather Lake.  It was 10 miles with lots of elevation gain but shorter than the strenuous Alta Peak and Pear hikes that day.   Its trail was covered by the Pear Lake hikers who went on to several more lakes in a faster-paced group. The next day most of these hikers took a two-hike combination to Tokopah Falls and Muir Grove for a 9-mile hike.  (The easy hiking had done Tokopah Falls the day before.)  The scheduled hike had been to Sunset Rock.  However, there was a prescribed burn going on in the Sunset Rock area so an alternate hike/s was found.  

Anne on Tunnel Log

 Those who had hiked to Heather Lake the day before were treated to a view looking up to the Watchtower route to Heather Lake.  We could clearly see the Watchtower we had looked for the previous day.  We had been on top of it!  The flowers were beautiful along the lake and it was a very nice walk along the river to the falls where we saw a marmot.  Then the group traveled from the Lodgepole Campground area to the Muir Grove parking area at Dorst Campground.  On the way up to Muir Grove, we met the easy ABF hikers coming down.  They told us not to miss the walk-through tree in the grove.  

Hikers in Sequoia Grove
 This trail was much different that the Tokopah Trail.  It went through the forest with beautiful wildflower displays and lots of green.  Then it ended at the Muir Grove.  What a sight!  We had lunch in the circle of giant Sequoia trees as various hikers ventured out to the walk-through trees and other sights it the area.  What a magnificent place.  Then we headed back down the trail with some of us stopping at the dome—a flat rock with views in the distance and beautiful pink/purple flowers.  What a great trip to Sequoia that Jerry planned for us.

Watch Tower Rock

Mike above Tokopah Falls

The Gang on Paradise Peak with San Joaquin Valley in the Background

Steve Takes in the View from Paradise Peak - Prescribed Burn in the Distance

 Pillars of Hercules

 Lakes Trail

 Alta Peak

 Moro Rock Loop