Posted by: martinworster | June 2, 2015

Mount Wilson (5710 feet)

First hike in the So Cal six pack of peaks – Mount Wilson – 5710 feet. To give you an idea of scale Scafell Pike (the highest, ahem, mountain in England) is 3,209 feet…

Santa Anita Canyon

Santa Anita Canyon

We started out at the trail head at Chantry Flats at 9 am – a bit later than anticipated. All of the guides had said to do the ascent via Sturtevant Falls – I was a bit disconcerted as we started to see that at the beginning of the trail we actually started to go down the mountain. Hang on a minute, I thought we’re meant to be going to the top? We must have gone down at least five hundred feet in elevation. Gulp. I could tell this bit was going to be painful at the end of the hike, a finale I could live without.

Keep going..onwards and upwards..

Keep going..onwards and upwards..

 

Tristan was all kitted out in his new hiking boots and we followed the creek in Santa Anita canyon in the San Gabriel Mountains. Luckily – and rarely – for the Los Angeles area, the weather was over cast and cool. A pre-cursor to the June gloom that normally occurs here. My favorite time of year as it reminds me of home. Perfect hiking weather. That’s the thing in this warm part of the world, hikes in the high summer months get very tough in the sun, especially as many of the hikes are exposed. We followed the creek admiring all the mini waterfalls and assorted cabins to the side of the trail. It was forested and verdant, at parts mulchy underfoot and a lovely damp peaty smell hung in the air. We crossed the stream a number of times and the cascading water sound gave us a nice soundtrack.

Got ladybirds?

Got ladybirds?

We rested every 40 minutes or so as we started to gain higher in elevation and started on the switchbacks that snaked across and up the mountain. Tristan was doing very well. We ascended slower than I normally would have gone which is normal when accommodating a young boy. I was careful to always offer lots of encouragement and the odd energy bean – aka sweets to keep the sugar levels high. Spotting thousands of hatching ladybirds on a branch in one spot was a nice diversion. They must have been hatching. As is always the case the last couple of miles dragged on a bit. I looked at a neighboring mountain for reference thinking, ‘this is the highest mountain in the area, we have to get higher than that’. I sensed Tristan was getting a bit ‘are we there yet’, although without explicitly saying it. His attitude was also very good and positive. The boy was doing me proud.

Halfway house (I'm knackered)

Halfway house (I’m knackered)

Finally at approx 2.30 we hit the top. We were all ecstatic. Tristan had nailed his first big peak. We looked around for the geographic marker that states the mountain’s height for the obligatory summit photo. We then found out that someone – very annoyingly – had stolen it. At the top were lots of people who’d driven up as there are roads to view the astronomical observatory established over a hundred years ago by George Ellery Hale. We put on jackets as it was actually cold and had our packed lunch. Unfortunately the views were of course obscured by the cloud and normally you can see the twinkling lights of the LA basin. Overall I’d swap a cooler ascent for sweeping views. I think…

Not much view at the top

Not much view at the top

The next mission was to descend. I was a tad worried about Tristan as the descents can be long and arduous. He looked a little tired. I noticed his limbs were a bit floppy – but he kept going like a trooper. With no complaints. On any sections that were steep or in anyway dangerous I held his hand as I know it’s when tired that mistakes can happen. I swear the trail was longer than 15 miles as there were different ways of doing it and we took different routes. The last bit – which was a uphill, was a complete ‘butt kicker’. We arrived back at the car, happy and tired. Tristan ran when he saw the car. We did it. Onwards and upwards.

Down the hill we go...

Down the hill we go…

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