Sunday, December 29, 2019

Holiday Hikes

With the cold and snow down to around 3000', this year's hiking was limited to lower elevations, and LA has a lot of opportunity there.

Afternoon sun shining off the bay from Topanga SP

My friend Nina was out this holiday so we hiked every day we could. On the 23rd we hiked in Towsley Canyon. On the 24th we hiked in Topanga SP to Skull Rock, overlooking Santa Monica Bay. On Christmas Day it rained and snowed, so we saw a movie in Hollywood and then ate Chinese food at the Formosa Cafe.

San Gabriels

On the 27th we met Mark to hike in the Verdugo Hills above Glendale, a good place from which to see the snow on the local mountains. I've never seen so much snow at so low an elevation.

From Mt Hollywood: DTLA and the Griffith Observatory
On the 28th we hiked in Griffith Park, to Mt Hollywood's summit, it was gorgeous and many other people were also out hiking.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Hiking Club November Night Hike up Mt Hollywood

Sunset silhouette of the Griffith Observatory
Some of the best local conditions for sunset photos are at Griffith Park. In winter, when the sun sets over the ocean instead of behind mountains, the low horizon, elevated view and clear dry air present a magnificent breakout of prism colors.
Sunsets like this never get old for me
On the summit, looking south toward LA's west side
Hollywood Boulevard
Got 28 hikers on the summit
On the hike down

Sunday, September 22, 2019

High Five: I Finished the John Muir Trail

This year was the 65 miles between Onion Valley and South Lake, behind the highest part of the high Sierra, the Palisades. The Palisades hold the southernmost glaciers in the US and form the divide between the desert and the Kings River drainage. This year's trip was most of the trail within Kings Canyon NP.
By saving the most grueling segment for last (eight days, the 'High Five' passes around 12k), the other segments were like training outings.  With cumulative 16,000' of elevation gained and 16,000' of elevation lost, I finished with 6 Lara Bars and 23 Skittles in my bear can. I'll be happy to not eat a Lara Bar ever again.
This year the deep snowpack in the Sierra delayed us til summer's end. As it happened, the hiking gods smiled upon us, and the week of our trip was The Sweet Spot on the calendar. The skies were clear, the mosquitos minimal, and with no smoke - but the week after, it rained every day, and the first snow fell within two weeks of our finish. We got to experience the few great days of summer 2019.
The other JMT segments are available to view here.  A really good 7-minute documentary on the JMT can be viewed here.
Day 1, on the backside of Kearsarge Pass
The junction with the JMT is on the far side of Bullfrog Lake
On Day 2 we switchback above a glacial lake on the climb to Glen Pass
Tohru and Mark on Glen Pass. Two down, three to go.
We camped by the Rae Lakes. Here a bear paced through camp at midnight, but it didn't disturb anything.
Day 3 scenery, heading down to the Woods Creek bridge
Northbound scenery. A distant cascade drains a hanging valley that isn't named on maps, and doesn't even have a trail going into it
The suspension bridge at Woods Creek is way down at 8500'. This was probably the hardest day.
Camp 3 was on a hilltop at 10800'. Day 4 we'll cross Pinchot Pass.
On Pinchot Pass by late morning. Three passes behind us now...
Descending the wide basin north of Pinchot Pass
After posing for the photo above we stopped by that lake. After eating lunch my head started spinning, and everything turned weird.  In ten minutes I went from "I feel kinda funny" to flat on my back.  I was slurring words, and briefly had trouble understanding the others. Tohru correctly guessed the trouble as electrolyte imbalance, and 20 minutes after sipping a quart of fortified water I was standing up saying, "Well THAT was weird. Ready to go?"
I've seen it in others but this time it found me, likely from the exertion. Kinda scary but afterward I was right as rain, and finished the rest of the trip in fine form.
Onward. By day's end we'll be on deck for Mather Pass, tomorrow. These alpine basins are the most scenic and vast in all the Sierra.
Sunset at Camp 4.
The very scenic basin on the Mather Pass approach
On the approach to Mather Pass
#4!  On Mather Pass for lunch. It's true, in photos all these passes look alike.
Nina descending Mather Pass
Two days before we crossed Mather Pass we spoke with some southbound hikers who told us of finding a hiker's body very near the location in the photo above. A man had been crossing an icy snow patch, apparently slipped and slid headfirst into the rocks below. Not even a long fall, just headfirst. He was still warm, but dead from a broken neck. They stayed with him for three hours, waiting to see if companions of his came, but nobody did. They had a satellite communicator, contacted a park dispatcher, then per their direction unpacked his sleeping bag, placed him in it and went on their way. His body was recovered before we came by.

Camp 5 was just below 11000' and the sun settled perfectly into the notch beyond Lower Palisade Lake.
Day 6: We don't have a pass today, but we'll descend the 'Golden Staircase' on Palisade Creek to the Middle Fork of the Kings River
The Golden Staircase
The 1200' descent on the Golden Staircase is infamous. Apparently this was the final segment of the JMT to be constructed.  Many / most hike it uphill, while we will hike down so ours is a pounding descent down to the lowest elevation on the trip (8072') before the climb into Dusy Basin tomorrow, setting us up to cross Bishop Pass on the next day.

We stop for lunch and Nina loves the giant tree
Deer Meadow was a very scenic and pleasant section to hike
Camp 6 in LeConte Canyon was by a wet meadow and our skeeteriest camp. None of our camps ever look like the cover photos of Backpacker magazine.

Day 7: On 8/30/19, Nina and I close out the JMT at this trail junction. We've hiked the entire trail!  I can fall down dead on the hike up to Bishop Pass and it can still be said that I finished the JMT.
Camp 7. During skeeter hour, and there's no place to hang the light, you improvise. Had a light frost overnight here.
Day 8:  Our packs are light as we climb through Dusy Basin
All smiles on #5 - Bishop Pass. We're 3 hours from the trailhead and completion of the hike. Congrats to everyone on finishing the toughest segment of the JMT.

Monday, July 29, 2019

July 2019: Hiking to the waterfalls in Yosemite

I visited retired friends who live in the Sierra foothills, and we spent a day hiking up the Merced River, to Vernal and Nevada Falls. The day was hot but this was the hike to do.
On the cool Mist Trail at 317' Vernal Falls
The awesome backside of Half Dome. See the climbers?
From the John Muir Trail: Half Dome, Liberty Cap, and 480' Nevada Falls
With hikers at the top

Sunday, March 24, 2019

2/16/19 Hiking in Downtown LA

Our LAC docents always have great notebooks filled with historic photos
Every February Hiking Club stays out of the mountains, and spends a day in DTLA taking an LA Conservancy walking tour. This year we toured the old theaters of Broadway St, the largest cluster of movie palaces anywhere in the world - 12 of them in six blocks. After WW2 a lot of the business went to Hollywood, and sadly the Broadway theaters fell into disuse, misuse, abuse, or re-use. With downtown currently in a renaissance, money is returning and while none are open for daily movies, some are still in use. Find out more here

Los Angeles Theater (1931)
 We got to spend some real time inside the LA Theater. In addition to its magnificent lobby it had, I think, four other levels, two below the theater. Our Photo Club Commissioner Roger Day attended as well and took this photo, which brought out the true colors of the lobby much better than our point & shoots could do:
Roger's group shot of us on the lobby stairs

In the United Artists Ace Theater, a crew was readying for a show
I title this photo, 'Choices'
The Eastern Columbia Building isn't a theater but it's my favorite DTLA building. This 1930 Art Deco masterpiece is clad in turquoise and gold leaf terra cotta tiles. Johnny Depp lived in the penthouse before he went broke.
Looking south on Broadway
The 1926 Orpheum started as a vaudeville venue.