Hiking L.A.

Blogged: February 26, 2007

Henniger Flats - Hike Aborted!

Attempted to hike: February 24, 2007

I'm jumping ahead a bit in my blogging (I have two hikes to report still) because I wanted to let people know about the status of the Henniger Flats hike as described on LocalHikes.

BF and I got a VERY late start on Saturday, so we decided to do a quick, local hike just to get our legs moving.

We drove out to Altadena to hike up to Henniger Flats (which is the proper spelling of the place, according to "Trails of the Angeles"), when we hit a little snag in our program. We got to the gates at the trailhead and they were locked. As we looked at the hill, trying to find the trail winding up the side, we saw this:

Rock slide near Pasadena


Hike aborted. We went to Trader Joe's instead. Though we didn't get a hike in, we did have a celebrity sighting at TJ's, so I suppose it wasn't a completely wasted afternoon. (Nothing's more L.A. than running into actors at the grocery store, after all.)

Blogged: February 20, 2007

Devil's Chair

Hiked: January 15, 2007

It was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and BF had the day off, so we decided to go hiking. The night before, we called up Danger Mouse (you may remember him from Switzer Falls) and decided we'd actually get up in the A.M. and drive somewhere more than 20 minutes away for the hike. Heavens!

• Length: 7.4 miles
• Elevation gain/loss: 1000'
• Location: Near Pearblossom, CA
• Type of Hike: Out and back.

We decided on heading out to Devil's Punchbowl up in the desert east of Lancaster and Palmdale. Our goal was to leave by 10. We got on the road by 11—not bad by our standards. I chose to take I-5 to the Pearblossom Highway instead of taking the winding mountain roads through the San Gabriels. Though it added about 15 miles to the drive, we got to the trailhead in less than an hour thanks to clear highways (a rare sight in L.A.) and my lead foot.

While we were plodding down the Pearblossom Highway we saw a sign that seemed out of place. It proclaimed, "Hungarian meats and sausage - 2 miles ahead." We were in the middle of the California desert, and there was Eastern European meat to be had? My father is Hungarian and I've inherited his love for csirke paprikas and kolbasz. We just had to stop.

As it turns out, Valley Hungarian Sausage & Meat Co. is a happening place. Though it's in the remote town of Littlerock, California, it seems to be the place to get cold cuts. We waited in line to buy some sausage and salami, and I also scored a big can of chesnut puree.

Before I went completely insane buying sausage, BF and Danger Mouse lured me out of the shop and we were back on the road. It was a quick jaunt to the entrance of the park, which was happily devoid of people despite it being a holiday. We checked out the little displays describing the geology of Devil's Punchbowl and marvelled at some caged owls (one had recently decapitated a rat, which was laying, splayed, on the bottom of the cage). Then we got hiking.

The hike to Devil's Chair is out-and-back. After a moderate initial climb, the hike lolls up and down, staying mostly even until the very end. To get to the Devil's Chair, you have to descend a few hundred feet. This makes the very middle of the hike the most strenuous part. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The first thing that takes your breath away are these massive stone formations:


Pictures don't do them justice, as they're over 100 feet tall.

As you ascend the hill, you get a good view of the desert behind you:


As you keep walking, you pass by a small stream (I suppose it's bigger during other seasons). The first thing we noticed about this stream was that it was covered in ice:

January in the desert

We knew it'd be cold, but we didn't realize we were hiking on one of the coldest days on record in Southern California. The night before the hike, I had added earflaps to my knit hat. At the time, I was wondering if I was being ridiculous, but after a mile of hiking in the frigid conditions, I was the only one whose ears were toasty warm. Luckily, I had packed some extra mittens, a scarf, and a big knit hat for the boys. Here's Danger Mouse sporting my lovely entrelac scarf under his baseball hat:


And here's BF doing his part to help out mother nature (notice the lovely orange mittens):

Kind of like Atlas

On the way, you get to see some cool rocks:


But nothing compares to the view from the actual Devil's Chair. After descending a long batch of switchbacks, you end up here:



BF took some pictures and I put together two panoramas of the view from the Devil's Chair. They give you a better perspective on the coolness of the place. Here's panorama one and here's panorama two.

We headed back up the switchbacks eager to get out of the shade and into a warm car. Danger Mouse's fingers were just about frozen and I was unable to feel my legs under my jeans. Back at the stream, BF and I noticed a lot more ice that was camera-ready. (It wasn't until we got back that it started to look Georgia O'Keefe-esque.)


All three of us were pleasantly surprised by this hike. The geological formations were amazing, and it was only an hour outside of L.A. but had a completely different feel. Definitely worth the trip (and the cold).

Blogged: February 17, 2007

Mount Lowe (again)

Hiked: January 14, 2007

Friends, hikers, readers of my blog. I have been negligent. I have been a bad blogger. I have hiked three times since you've seen me last, with nary a word written on this blog. I am filled with shame over my inconquerable laziness.

• Length: 3 miles
• Elevation gain/loss: 500'
• Location: San Gabriel Mountains
• Type of Hike: Out and Back

I actually have been quite busy lately, so I have a pseduo-excuse for not blogging. This hike to Mount Lowe took place a mere four days before I left town to attend the Sundance Film Festival. Midway through my 10 days at Sundance, I contracted a fun strain of food poisoning that cleaned out my entire digestive system and left me a tad lethargic. Then, once I returned from Sundance, I had to catch up with my actual life that I had left behind. This meant doing actual work. No more watching three movies a day and hobnobbing with celebrities. This "actual work" also left me with little time to blog. I apologize. This is my attempt at atonement.

So, on to the hiking. On Sunday, January 14, my friends Shanna (whose secret identity is no secret, hence the lack of pseudonym) and Pulitzer (name derived from her fabulous sweater) expressed an interest in hiking. Shanna was short on time, so I suggested we hike up Mt. Lowe. I had done this hike before, and I knew we'd be able to get up and back with enough time to spare.

When you arrive at the trailhead, just across Mt. Wilson road there's a great view of Mount Baldy covered in snow:


It was then I realized how different this hike was in the winter. It was a perfectly clear day, but it was very cold for Southern California. It had even dropped below freezing for a few nights, which might be the first sign of apocalypse. (In a related note, on the day I flew out to Sundance, it snowed in Malibu. Yes, snowed.) So up on the mountain it was even colder.

Of course, Pulitzer, Shanna and I were all bundled up for our hike. As we got going we ended up shedding a lot of our layers, but it never got quite what you'd call "warm." Here's proof:


Snow on the ground only 20 minutes from downtown L.A. Stop the presses!

When I did this hike with BF in the summer, we added an extra two miles or so to the hike by hiking a loop around the front side of Mt. Lowe. I also tortured myself by wearing TeVa sandals. This time, we just did the quick 3-mile hike straight up and back, and I was wearing proper footwear.

Also, this being January, not July, the views from the top were much clearer. It was slightly hazy, but not the "my lungs are black from smog" type of haze, thankfully. Here are a few shots:

View from Mt. Lowe

(That shiny thing in the distance is the Pacific Ocean.)


Some peak spotters (and Shanna using them):


Shanna the Spotter

Mt. Baldy in the distance:


And some info about Mt. Lowe:


The hike was pleasant, chilly, and otherwise uneventful. Just a nice day out. Nothing else to report.