Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Black Mountain California 2014-03-11

About 8.0 miles and 2,680 feet of elevation gain.

A hike on the way to Mesa, AZ.  After three days in the van with just a few pit stops and one short hike on the Pacific Crest Trail where it crosses I-5 at CA exit 726, Blue and Sly were ready for a real hike.

The trail head is located about twelve miles south of Banning CA on Hwy 243.  The highway winds its way up into the San Jacinto Wilderness area.  The terrain quickly changes from desert to pine forest.  Several campgrounds are past the trail head on Hwy 243 but they were all closed except for one in "downtown" Idyllwild.  So, after driving the windy road for well over an hour, it was back to the trail head.  The trail head is on a short spur of off 243 and I decided to just camp there.  We walked a short distance up the trail and watched the sunset.     

In the morning, after shooing away a coyote from our camp, we hit the trail at 7:10.  It was a nice change of pace to be on a dry trail.  The mountain could have been named Granite, with only a few exceptions, the entire trail is crushed granite with many large granite boulders along the way and the peak is solid granite. 

We hit big patches of snow at about 7,200 feet of elevation.  Arrived at the lookout on top of Black Mt at 10:00 and were back at the trail head at 12:20.  We beat most of the heat.

From the trail head we continued on Hwy 243 to the Pines to Palms highway 74 into Palm Desert and then on to Mesa AZ arriving at 10:00 PM.  Sly must have have found something "delicious" on the hike, shortly after we stopped in Mesa, Sly got sick (both ends) all over the inside of the camper when I was visiting my sister.  I got to sleep at about 4:00 AM.  Sly was fine by noon the next day. 

Sunset at the Black Mt trail head.

The Bluesmobile at the trail head.

On the trail

Galena Peak in the San Bernardino National Forest

No final scramble to the peak, just a nice payed walkway with a handrail.

And a garage for the rangers to park their vehicle out of the sun.

 In the summer, the tower is open to the public during the day.

Making big rocks into small rocks.  It looks like the top of this boulder and the two pieces on the right side just fractured this year, the fractures were very clean and didn't have any signs of weathering.

I've never seen pine cones with sharp claws.  These cones are very large, the ones I saw were 8-10" long.  After some research I found out that these are from Coulter Pines.  The cones are 8-16" and weight 4-10 pounds!  People working in Coulter Pine groves are advised to ware hardhats. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Granite Lakes 2014-01-27

11.07 miles and 2,436 feet of elevation gain.

I wanted to see what the new road to trail conversion looked like on the lower portion of this trail.  Our previous hikes, after the conversion, have bypassed the lower portion of the trail by using the "shortcut" trail (see Revolution Peak Cabin 2013-06-13).  The shortcut saves almost three miles on the round-trip.  I believe the conversion was a great success.  Although on the upper portions of the trail, that are above the snow line, the removal of small culverts has resulted in many snow canyons.  These can be very difficult to navigate when the snow is deep. 


The new trail head, quite different from the muddy road with a gate that you had to climb around.

A large culvert used to be here, it prevented any access to the creek.  Blue likes it better this way.

A log seat with a view of several Middle Fork peaks.  I think this is a portion of one of the logs from the old logging road bridge across Granite Creek.

The log bridge that replaced the old logging road bridge. 

The bigger of the Granite Lakes.

The cabin on the way to Revolution Peak.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Mason Creek 2014-01-24

4.45 miles and 2,225 feet of elevation gain.

A late in day quick hike to check out the trail up to Mason Lake from the freeway.  The trail starts on the North side of I-90 Exit 42 at the end of the road (same exit as McClellan Butte).  In the last few years the area has started collecting a fair amount of trash and toilet paper. 

Go past the concert block with the "No Target Shooting" sign.  The old road splits just a few feet after the block, to the right is the shooting area.  Several years ago, the shooting area had an old burned out Caravan that was riddled with bullet holes.  The position of the Caravan would have met that people were shooting in the direction of the trail with only some bushes and a few trees in the 50 yards to the trail. 

 Follow the road to the left.  The trail starts on the right just before the Mason Creek.  One large tree provides a bridge over the largest portion of the creek.  The trail crosses over another smaller section and then parallels the creek on the West side.

 The trail crosses the road to the Mason Lake (Ira Springs) trail head about a quarter mile before the trail head.  Cross the road and continue following the stream.  Just before hitting the Mason Lake trail, at about 2,400 feet of elevation, the terrain forces you bare to the left and start navigating through under brush.  Follow the main trail and cross Mason Creek.  500 feet after crossing the creek, look for the old Mason Lake trail and continue up the hill.  After several switchbacks the trail splits, take the trail on the left.    

 Icy snow started at the base of the talus field.  We were running out time and I didn't was to put on microspikes, so we turned around.

The trash filled "No Target Shooting" shooting area.

The Mason Creek crossing.  They removed the old logging road culvert a few years ago after a large portion of the road was washed out.

A December 2010 picture of the culvert after the washout.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Marten Lake 2013-12-18

8.43 miles and 1,945 feet of elevation gain.

Long drive out the potholed Middle Fork Snoqualmie River road before arriving at the trail head.

Wet day for a hike but we finally did get high enough to hit snow.  The boot path to Marten lake starts fifty or so feet before the wooden bridge over Marten Creek.  The trail splits in several places to get closer to the creek and then comes back together.  Once we hit snow on the ground, following the trail was a challenge.  We did take one major wrong turn and started climbing up a hill we didn't need to go up.  On the way back from the lake I had Blue lead the way.  He did take different track through a steep icy section.  Blue bypassed the some of steep part but we did have to climb over a few trees and do a little bushwhacking.

Not much of a trail.

Arriving at the lake

Marten Lake

Nice campsite


Frozen waterfall


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

McClellan Butte 2013-12-11

10.76 miles and 3,748 feet of elevation gain.

The snow chutes were very icing and required microspikes.  Not much snow until we got on the other side of the mountain.  The last leg, to the base of the summit block, was very slippery even with microspikes.  There was a couple of inches of snow on top of a layer of ice.  The snow had not bonded to the ice and was deep enough to prevent the microspikes from grabbing the ice.   Even the dogs had traction problems.

 "Blobcicles" formed by freezing rain on a small twig.  This one was about two inches high.

The snow chutes are more ice than snow.  

Mt Rainier

The "other side" of the mountain.

Start of the really slippery part.

 The final 100 foot scramble to the summit.  This is a YDS class 3-4 scramble that we have never done.

 We had great company today.