Sunday, July 5, 2009

Back to Back

Friday, July 3: Another Moonlight Hike

Devil's Punchbowl
4,740' elevation
1 mi loop trail [300' (down and back up) elevation change]

Only eight more weeks before our planned Yosemite backpack. I need to start working on distance and back-to-back days of hiking. This past weekend provided the perfect opportunity to get in some back-to-back, as DD invited me to go on another moonlight hike with her. My hiking buddy met up with us, and the dog came along, too. The sun was setting as we arrived, and already a good number of people were gathering. Final count was 89 people and one dog. Guess who the dog was?

Panorama at sunset from the vista point at Devil's Punchbowl.
Click on any photograph for larger view.

A not-quite full moon above the ranger station at Devil's Punchbowl.

We hung at the very back of the line so my hiking buddy could take pictures and the dog would not be in people's way. The dog was immensely popular, especially with all the kids. And she got to try out her backpack again before our longer planned hike on Saturday!

We enjoyed the hike as usual, but this time we did not detour to the creek bottom. Probably a good thing, as dog would've dived right in. Afterward, we enjoyed hot chocolate, cookies, and marshmallows toasted over the campfire. We headed home and were in our beds by 2 a.m., with plans to meet in the late morning.

Saturday, July 4: Burkhart Trail

Buckhorn Campgrounds to Cooper Canyon Creek
~6500' to ~5770' elevation
~1.5 mi [~800' elevation change] each way
Out and back again [~3 mi total]

We woke to discover we had been blessed with the bluest of skies and clearest of days. A very good day for hiking in the local forest! We, of course, got a late start; but we were interested in a leisurely day.

Half the fun of hiking in the Angeles Nat'l Forest is the drive there --- Highway 2 remains one of my most favorite drives. DH, my hiking buddy, the dog, and I took our sweet time meandering along the 2 toward Buckhorn Campground. As usual, yet another wildflower was revealing itself along the route; this time, it was a star-shaped yellow flower we had never seen before.

That view!

We hadn't seen these wildflowers before!
I believe this is Giant Blazing Star.

We stopped at Inspiration Point to marvel at the unusually clear view to the southwest. We could see all the way to Catalina Island! We stopped again between Inspiration Point and Vincent Gap to admire the flowers, then stopped again somewhere around Dawson Saddle. We just can't get enough of that view!

East Fork of the San Gabriel River from Inspiration Point.
The camera didn't pick it up well, but we could see all the way
to Santa Catalina Island! (It's amid the clouds.)

Panorama from Inspiration Point.

Prickly poppy.

Mt. Baden-Powell is sure one big mountain!

Wooly Paintbrush is still out.

This was DH's first trip over the newly opened stretch of road between Vincent Gap and Islip Saddle --- hurrah! After more than an hour, we arrived at Buckhorn Campgrounds. We drove through to the day-use parking area. Of course it was full, including the Honda that had to take up 2 spaces! And there weren't any handicapped parking areas at all! So the dog and I were deposited with the gear back at the campgrounds while DH and my hiking buddy headed back to park BB at a turnout along the highway.

After 30 min, they arrived back where I was waiting. We all hoisted on our packs, and we strapped the dog into hers. Finally, we were on the Burkhart Trail! I didn't even think to look at the time; we were interested in a leisurely 4th of July hike and picnic (despite the crowds).

And boy, were there crowds of people on this holiday! This hike is rated one of the most beautiful in the ANF, and it was easy to see why. The incense cedars were impressive with their massive girth, and ferns were growing along much of the hike. The trail was shady and made for comfortable hiking.

The crowds started thinning out after we passed the turn to Buckhorn Falls. We continued on the trail following the canyon, which eventually intersects perpendicularly into Cooper Canyon. Wildflowers, of course, lined the route and kept us entertained, as did the interesting rock formations and some other-worldly-looking twisted trees.

Burkhart Trail view, near Buckhorn Campgrounds.

The trail follows along a canyon and its creek.

Elderberry or deer brush -- gotta check which.

Scarlet monkey flowers were in abundance.

The dog, of course, was hugely popular on the trail, especially since she is so friendly and loves all people. Many people gave us a hard time about making the dog carry a backpack, but in truth she was just carrying her own food, water, and gear!

The trail finally started dropping as we reached the intersection with Cooper Canyon and turned to head east. As we dropped, the sound of water reached our ears. Soon we were within view of the creek. Not much further, the Burkhart Trail turned to cross the creek --- we had arrived at Cooper Canyon Creek.

Cooper Canyon Creek, where the trail crosses the crick and you see these cedars.

The dog didn't even wait for us to take off the pack before wading right in. We dropped our gear, and I thankfully pulled off my boots and socks and switched to my water shoes. Then I soaked my hot and swelling feet in the deliciously cool "footbath" of the creek. Aaahhhh!

Pools and little falls (the falls are really a series of drops in elevation in the creekbed) in the cool shade of the canyon beckoned, so we explored as we also picnicked. Well, most of us did!

My "footbath."

Happy dog; napping DH.

Crimson Columbine growing by the creek.

I dunked my head in the flow of a small waterfall to cool down; while my hiking buddy opted to dunk in the deepest pool, scaring the three trout in there. Well, she didn't really opt to -- she sorta fell in it! But it was funny. So far, she's 2 for 2 when we've been around cricks -- if there's been one, she's fallen in. I oughta take her to the Keough Ditch!


This pool had three trout living in it!

So we are happy to report our new trail clothing does indeed repel water and dry quickly! After more exploring the opposite direction (and more picnicking on my part), we checked the time for the first time that day. It was 3:30 p.m. I have a date tonight, so I can't be late! It was time to take off the water shoes, tie on the hiking boots, pack up the packs, and hoist them on.

DH took pity on the dog, since the return trip would be uphill, and took her pack for her. Thankfully, the late afternoon hour meant our return trip would be primarily in shade! We hit the trail at 3:45 p.m.

The trail up.

We ambled at a casual pace, letting all traffic overtake us. The shade made the hike positively pleasant, and I didn't have to stop as often as I do in the hot sun to catch my breath and let the ache in my legs subside some. We were still snapping photographs, too; which also makes for our slow pace. Someone on the trail ahead of us was leaving happy faces behind; we followed them all the way back to the parking lot.

Happy trails to you!

It was right about 5:00 when we reached the campgrounds again. Again, we dropped gear and this time the dog, my hiking buddy, and I waited while DH hoofed it up the highway to where BB was parked. By 5:30, we had the gear loaded up and were pointed for home. The dog stretched out on the back seat and, of course, immediately went to sleep. Me? I felt satisfied and happy, and I can tell I'm getting stronger!

No comments: