Every Sunday I wake up at the crack of dawn to hike. This past Sunday when my alarm went off at 5 am, my husband persuaded me to stay in bed. It was nice sleeping in for a change. Once we got up, we went out for breakfast then came home and relaxed until the afternoon. Around 2ish we headed up the ACH and into the Angeles National Forest to hike Waterman Mountain. We had our backpacking gear, and this time I was trying out a new Gregory backpack. My Osprey Kyte was bothering my shoulders, so I thought I should check into another pack. The Gregory seems to be a much better fit on my back. I was carrying around 27 lbs. We did approximately 7 miles taking the Waterman Trail up to the summit at 8,038’ feet and then heading back down on the fire road past the ski lifts to make a loop. We passed by the seasonal pond just below the summit. I’d never seen water in it before, but we’ve had so much snow this year that it looks like the pond may be around for a little while longer. Just as we were approaching the pond we saw a Search and Rescue chopper circling low. This was followed by a vehicle coming up the mountain with a team of rescuers. They showed us a photo and description of a hiker who’d gone missing on Saturday. They asked if we’d seen him, but unfortunately, we had not. We then continued our descent. The forest was quiet and the light was much different then I’m used to seeing it in the early morning. It felt very peaceful. The weekend crowd had cleared out and when we got back to the parking turnout, our car was the only one there. It was so nice I really didn’t want to leave! We got to see the sunset as we drove back on the ACH. It was a really nice afternoon. I think we need to do more late afternoon hikes in the future. It’s a nice change from waking up so early.Read More
I am really enjoying this snowshoeing thing! It was a beautiful day, so we decided to venture back into Angeles National Forest taking an alternative route around the recent rock slide on the ACH near Red Box and check out the conditions on Waterman Mountain. The ski lifts had recently been opened, so we knew there would be a good amount of snow. We past the lifts as skiers and snowboarders were just heading into the parking area and parked our car at the usual spot for the Mt. Waterman Trailhead. There was only one other car in the turnout when we arrived, and the air was chilly with an occasional gust of wind. We geared up (There’s a lot more to gear to deal with in winter.) and started up the Mt. Waterman Trail. At the junction with the Fire Road, we decided to head in that direction instead of our usual route. The snow conditions were mixed with sections of crusty ice on top of snow in the shade and a powdery mix in the sun. The snow was deep but packed and the fire road was a bit steep. We got a good workout as we enjoyed the views of snow capped Mt. Baden-Powell in the distance. We took our time and had the route mostly to ourselves. About two miles up we reached the junction with the ski runs. We stopped and watched some of the skiers and snowboarders do their thing. We could have continued on, but decided to take our time and head back. I thoroughly enjoyed every single second of another beautiful winter day!Read More
Today we set out to hike from Mill Creek Summit on the Pacific Crest Trail and up to the Pacifico Mountain Campground. I knew this mountain was a north face, and I had a feeling we might encounter some icy patches on the trail, but we decided to give it a go. I knew there would be some snow up at the campground after the recent rain, and I wanted to take advantage of that since we never know what kind of winter we’ll have here in Southern California. We were about two miles into the hike and we started to come across patches of hard packed ice. We had microspikes to slip onto our boots for traction, but if we were to continue, coming down would be sketchy. Neither one of us wanted to risk spraining an ankle, so we decided to turn around and head back. Since it was still early in the day, we drove to Charlton Flats, had some lunch and then drove up to Waterman Mountain which I knew would be reliable for a nice snow hike. It was about 12:30 when we started on the trail and I expected to see many more people hiking, but it was actually very quiet. Most of the snow play folks stayed on the fire road or over at the Buckhorn day use area and there were very few people hiking up the Waterman Mountain trail. The few people we past were hiking with dogs in tow, or rather I should say they were in tow of their dogs. That’s the one thing I love about hiking… seeing all the happy dogs on the trail. As we got higher up, we seemed to be the only people on the trail. The sky was gray with overcast clouds and the mountain seemed still and peaceful. It was around 2:15 when we reached the Twin Peaks junction which is about 3/4 miles away from the Waterman Mountain summit. At this point we both decided it was time to head back to make sure we returned safely before the sun set and the temperatures dropped and turned the melting snow to ice. We both went home satisfied after spending another beautiful day in our Southern California mountains.Read More
This weekend we had a fun field day practicing our basic navigation skills with a good o’le map and compass. We recently had taken a class at REI and wanted to practice what we learned in the field. We decided to hike to the West Ridge of Waterman Mountain. This would give us a chance to do some minor cross country route finding on an unestablished trail. We started the hike at Angeles Crest mile marker 54.10. We followed the road to a fork in the trail and headed southeast. The trail is wide at first and easy to follow. Eventually, we came to a junction with a watercourse and a very faint use trail that would fade in and out as we made the steep climb up to the wilderness boundary on the ridge. It was a nice challenge and we completed the task successfully! After making our way carefully down the slope and back to the parking area, we decided to drive to the nearby Winston Peak and climb to it’s high point where we could see the surrounding mountains and use them as landmarks to practice triangulation. The hike up to Winston Peak is steep, but short. From the top we could see Will Thrall, Pallet Mountain, Mount Baden-Powell and Cucamonga Peak to name a few. It was a great spot to put these basic navigation skills to good use. In this day of modern technology, we have so many fancy electronic gadgets readily at our disposal. But it’s always good to go back to basics and also an extremely valuable skill to have. It was another fun day in the mountains!
Waterman Mountain West Ridge, 4 miles, 1,125’ +/-
Winston Peak, 2 miles, 495’ +/-Read More
Sunday was another beautiful day for a snow hike. Although it was a little warmer than the last snow hike we did a few weeks ago, there was still plenty of snow to turn the forest into a magical winter wonderland. We packed our winter gear and headed up to Waterman mountain. We know this mountain pretty well by now, and I feel safe here. The trail is easily graded and there aren’t many narrow sections. There’s also an option to hike up a fire road if you so choose. We took the Waterman Trail from Buckhorn just off Angeles Crest Highway. The day started off with blue skies and few clouds, but by the time we finished more clouds were rolling in. There was a lot of water flowing from the rains we just had which formed beautiful icicles. The pines were heavy with pure white snow which made me feel like we were walking through a scene from a winter fairy tale. As last time, this trail was so quiet and peaceful. We took our time making our way up to the summit and enjoyed the picturesque forest. I'm not sure if we’ll get to experience this again this year since it’s just about Spring, but it really was wonderful and I can’t possibly think of a better way to spend a Sunday.Read More
What an incredible day in Angeles National Forest! I was hoping to get to see more snow before the winter was over, and today I got my wish! I woke up at 5 am and we headed up Angeles Crest Highway just after the sunrise. I didn’t want to leave too early not knowing what the driving conditions would be like. As we got higher up in elevation, we started to see the snow. The roads still had a very light covering, but the driving was fine and there was no ice. It was beautiful just driving along the highway. Our destination was Waterman Mountain. This trail is one of my favorites in the summer and seeing it for the first time in winter was a treat! The pine trees were heavy with snow and icicles. The forest was incredibly serene and peaceful. The only sounds we heard were the birds singing and the ice melting off the majestic pine trees. The air was fresh and the sky was crystal clear. It was a bluebird day for sure. Today was also the first time I’ve ever had the opportunity to photograph snow. When I lived in Pennsylvania, I hadn’t gotten into photography yet. Also, I was just so used to having snow in winter, that I really didn’t think much of it. Well that sure changes when you don’t get to see it anymore. I could not have asked for a more perfect day.