Tuesday, April 24

Windy Gap / Pacific Crest Trail

Deciding on an entirely new area of the San Gabriel's to explore, three young adventurers set out from the cafe at Crystal Lake, roughly some 25 odd miles from the main freeway & standard conveniences. Carlos, Georgette & I marveled at the 200 plus campsites that were strew about in several loops, many with brand new amenities. How could we have never been to this place?! After some research & a kind stranger I learned after the Curve Fire in 2002 the campground underwent 6 million dollars in restoration & has since opened only partially due to water issues.

| Crystal Lake Basin, Part Way Up Windy Gap Trail |

Finding the Windy Gap trail-head near the southwest corner of the newly paved parking lot (Robinson's book says dirt lot). Following the rock path up the creek next to the campground seemed uneventful, until Carlos paused ahead staring intently up the shadowy creek. He point at a Bobcat, the size of a medium size dog, with a strong tail, moving steadily up the dry small creek. I couldn't believe it, not only was this the first time I had seen a bobcat, let alone in the wild, or withing the first ten minutes of our hike!
| Windy Gap Trail Junction - Georgette & I heading east | 

Climbing up the trail, past the first paved road to Deer Flats group camp, then up further through a graveyard of large fallen trees from a fire that was set off by teenagers practicing a cult animal sacrifice ceremony with candles, no joke. Past the second dirt fire road that leads to S. Hawkins the trail gains more elevation quickly through switchbacks & ridge lines that become progressively more & more beautiful.

| Watch This 50 Second Video From Our Trip - Play Button |
Reaching Windy Gap all three of us were glad the place was living up to it's name. Cooling down under the 20 lbs I just carried up the trail (for practice) & a sandwich; a relaxed conversation is all that could accompany the stunning view into the Crystal Lake basin. 

| PCT under Mt. Hawkins - Snowfield after trail was blazed | 

Shouldering our packs again we head east along the Pacific Crest Trail (long trail from Mexico to Canada!) to behold large pines that told of ancient times. Some twisted & finding strange rough outcroppings to call home. After crossing more than seven snow fields (seen above) postholing a path for Georgette & Carlos we made our way slowly around the north side of Mt. Hawkins.
| Jeremy, Carlos, Georgette - What A Great Day | 
Paused, observing our position on the ridge line, dropping several hundred feet to Hwy 2, then another great amount to the next canyon below. I called to Carlos on the walkie-talkie & we all decided it was time to start heading back. I went about shooting one of the few photos I get to take of the south end of the central California valley. Geared up & headed west for Windy Gap. We stopped again to marvel at the view & dry out our socks from the second slog through the snow fields. Off down the trail, towards the car, towards paved road, towards civilization, towards Uncle Andres Barbeque!

Saturday, April 21

Valley Gorge Loop & Some Mtn History

With a few too many obligations, mother nature at odds with us & a general all around busy work month I have reverted to posting about older hikes. This is one Collin, Gerogette & I took as in impromptu loop into the middle country of the San Gabriels. Not many photos on this trip b/c it was not particularly scenic in that sort of way. This was a new hike, in a new area to get out and see a different part of the mountains... this would prove to be a hike that would change the way I felt about the mountains I had spent the better part of the last two years discovering.

Beginning our pleasant amble down to Valley G(F?)orge trail camp from Red Box. This being a semi shallow valley falling below HWY 2s motoring cars. There was an ever present sign of human life showing due to the power lines that hung over a portion of this hike. We then came to a point where the trail crosses a fire road and there is a sign that reads "Gabrielino Scenic Trail". Somewhat at a loss this was not mentioned in our book, at least for our hike, but we continued on in what proved to be the right direction down the creek bed. I would learn later that this was a trail established in the early 1970s that leads from the city limits, high up into the front country of the Gabriels and feeds back out to familiar Chantry Flats & civilization again... or in a reverse traverse.  
| If there was ever a photo that showed Georgette & I in our true outdoor form, this is it |

The small fact above, about discovering the history of trail we were treading, is the portion of the hike that I elude to as changing my point of view of the San Gabriel Mountains. We had spent over the last two years what accumulated now to days in the mountains & I was slowly growing entirely more connected with the land and the views that were sprawled out before us on each weekend hike. The photo above is an excellent testament to that. More than 20 mile outstretched for anyone, with some skill, to explore. Hiking down to meet Valley G(F?)orge camp, we came to find bathrooms in a backcountry trail camp, how Hollywood is that? Instead of retracing our steps back up the creek we opted to take Valley Gorge Trail up to the saddle and walk the 2 Mt Wilson Rd miles back to our car to complete the loop. This trail was spectacular compared to the viewless creek bed we had wandered down earlier that day. Looking now out into the middle canyons & off into dense forest to the south this was truly why we came out here.

| Lunch on the Trail - Collin, Georgette & I |

This desire to be more informed of the land I was wandering consumed me, growing stronger inside hike after hike. Im sure being partially fed by my dual teacher parent upbringing & something that seems to be ingrained in the Boggs family after a wonderful 90th birthday celebration where other family members mentioned a natural curiosity that led to a desire for knowledge about the world around us. Many graveyard shifts later, trolling the beauty of the world wide web I slowly began to put the puzzle pieces together of what sources I needed to gather & what authors really could convey the history of the mountains I so lusted for.

Enter John Robinson & a few books that would change my outdoor life forever. How to make this next paragraph short and sweet is hard?! Much of the detailed history of the San Gabriel mountains begin in the mid 1800's. Starting mostly with the white settlers that began to take over the region from the Spaniards and the Native Americans that first settled it. John Robinson has managed to collect, author & stronghold almost all the mountain history into numerous books that have all been beautifully visualized, detailing the "Great Hiking Era" and the dozen or so high resort trail camps that were set up all over the San Gabriel Mountains. Amongst Robinson's many volumes, I have also read Woosley's biography of one of the most celebrated mountain men to span the early turn of the century into the modern city dwelling days of LA, William Thrall.

Turning the page now, I am almost finished with Mines of the San Gabriels, a wonderful account of the over $5,000,000 dollars in gold that was taken from the LA mountains between roughly the 1850s and 1940s through all types of mining actions. Lastly, only having read two chapters I am thoroughly enjoying the 1923 (original copy!) book by Charles Saunders, The Southern Sierras (the proper name escapes me while typing this). This book has proved to be most entertaining from the start, more so because I have now attained some background knowledge & when the author speaks of places that he is traveling in 1920, I know exactly where, when and who, due to previous readings in Robinson's book. Now with 5 books sitting around to read and 2 always in my pack, we will see how the hikes are different with a little history to add to the views.

Sorry for such a long post, been a long time since Ive been outside. Windy Gap, Mt Baden-
Powell hike this coming week. The rain has cleared!