11 March 2007

Strawberry Peak from Red Box

Angeles National Forest

Locate the trailhead.

Just across the street from the far eastern end of the parking lot at Red Box Junction, where the road up Mt. Wilson turns off the 2, there is one end of Strawberry Peak Trail.

From here it is a little over three miles to the top of the peak. The first two miles are very easy ones on fairly level trail that spends about half the time along the southern face of the mountain. First, though, it winds along some telephone poles. What I read of it said this was an old road for the first half mile and it may have been the old utility road but it was not particularly apparent. It also said the trail wasn't signed but it clearly is.

The trail followed along the road climbing for a short way before turning into the mountains. Very shortly after starting, I passed a mile marker marked with the number 7. The road quieted completely as the trail found its way to the back of a nearby peak, but the observatory was still easy to spot.

The trail makes it up to a little saddle that has a row of poles going right up the sides of both peaks. People sure like to follow poles going up hills randomly. More go up the shorter side toward the road.

The trail itself continues on and gives up any appearance of being road-like. It also almost entirely flattens out. Eventually it comes out from behind the little peak and the roadway is far below and can be heard for the next mile or so along which there's a marker with a 6. Again it turns into the mountains and quiet is regained.

The fight for survival is harsh out here. At least if you can't just come up for an afternoon carrying four liters of water, most of which is drunk by the end of the day. It was probably somewhere between 80 and 85 degrees F.

The peak is in view. The south side is desolate with its chaparral, somewhat green from recent rains, but there are trees poking out from the north side. Around here somewhere is the mile 5 marker.

After the easy part of the trail, the peak is still a mile away. The trail seen is just the direction the sign points, the actual trail takes off up the hillside and follows along the ridge line very closely. This part of the trail is much harder and doesn't look to be maintained by more than the passage of people. It would seem that no one goes to Mt. Lawlor.

Can't get away from traffic anywhere around here! A helicopter landed on the nearish hill and took off again maybe 20 minutes later.

Looking down to the southwest shows the valley.

A first look at Baldy, looking not all that snowy. Maybe it's just dirty, at least when viewed at this distance, because tiny bits of snow can be seen on Mt. Wilson's north side and there have been skiers up there quite recently.

A look back over the trail following the backbone of the ridge.

To the north, the mountains look particularly crinkly with white edges on every ridge.

Near the top, the trees can be particularly tortured by the elements.

Another look back over the ridge trail with the main trail's cut clearly visible too. The trail follows the ridge going along to the left with just a few steep downhills mostly near the start. Then a lot of steep uphills and some shallow downhill.

On the peak, I could see the ravens (see the black specs below) were out in force today. They were clacking their beaks and riding the updrafts. There was no wind, though, so no kite flying. The mountains to the northwest show how delicate and detailed the ones to the north are.

Directly west is a peak with a structure on it.

Far to the south and a little bit west, the island of skyscrapers that represents the actual Los Angeles city can be seen rising up from the plane of the valley beyond the Hollywood Hills. It's just a little darker in the haze.

I didn't find any geological survey marker, but I did find the, er, logbook container. Inside was just one paper and a pen, but anything without a lid can't seriously be used to hold logbooks.

More images from the peak:

And then I have to go back down all of that...

I seem to have gotten down off of it safely. One last look back at the peak. It looks greener in the more filtered light of the late afternoon. At least there's only that fairly easy trail to follow back from here.

Better hurry, the sun is getting low. Wouldn't want to be nibbles for a mountain lion. They do so like the twilight.

©2007 Valerie Norton
Posted 13 March 2007

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