Angeles National ForestLocate the trailhead.
On the first of October, they opened up a few unburned areas in the southern section of the Angeles National Forest. One section is the piece right behind me at the top of Lake. The trail itself isn't actually in the forest until some time just before Echo Mountain but there is no sign so it's difficult to tell exactly. I decided to hike up by Castle Canyon again. The fire road behind the pavilion at Inspiration Point marked the boundary of the open area and, in that immediate area, the burn. After climbing up, I would explore a little by going down the fire road and then taking one of the other trails back down to Echo Mountain.
On the way up, very little burn could be seen. There was a small spot of something that had peeked over the edge of the ridge. The further mountains could be grey with ash or grey with distance.
Going up Castle Canyon, I found the bay I had gathered leaves from last year are still quite safe although the flavor of them isn't as good this year. Toward the top, I spotted the first bit of burn. Eventually, the height afforded views of the mountains behind showing more burn area.
|There isn't much to burn on this side of the mountains. A little bit went up anyway.|
|The mountains in the distance are grey, but the mountains in the distance are always grey eventually.|
From Echo Mountain, the pavilion at Inspiration Point can be seen above. One night it had looked very much like this might be on fire, but apparently not, or at least not the structure itself. It wouldn't have been the first time it had burned.
|Way up Castle Canyon, where the echo horn is pointed, is a pavilion. Its matching echo horn is long gone.|
Echo Mountain, of course, has its own ruins that were taken down by wind and fire long ago. I stopped there for a sketch of a ruined cedar among the ruins before going up to see the ruin. As it were.
|Bits of foundation are all that's really left of the resort that once stood over the flattened top of Echo Mountain.|
Then headed up Castle Canyon, which was just about as I remembered it. A little bit of Rubio with a touch of waterfall can be seen. A dribble of water is available to the thirsty and foolish. Bunches of bay are here and there. And it starts of very mild and then climbs and climbs and climbs.
|The top of a waterfall in Rubio canyon showing there's no point in looking at the falls at this time of year because it is quite dry.|
|There isn't much to it, but there is a little bit of water in the canyon.|
|Looking around the canyon.|
|Looking back at the top of Echo Mountain.|
|The fire came right down to the edge of the pavilion, but did not take the pavilion itself.|
Once to the pavilion, there was a lot of ruin from the fire to see. The entire back side of the mountain had been destroyed.
|Looking out over the back side of the ridge to the northeast. The immediate area is devastated. Around Mt. Wilson, the subject of desperate measures to keep the antennas safe, is still green.|
|Looking out to the northwest it looks even worse.|
|It's not a very good day for locating anything.|
|Still a little bit of animal life around. And in the background, a touch of green already coming up from the roots of some burned sage.|
|A line in the dirt marks where someone scraped the ground clean to keep the fire from moving another inch.|
I turned down the fire road and walked along it a short way. Below, the trail to Mount Lowe camp was a line of light grey in the darker grey.
|It looks like this trail head was once much more informative. The most important stuff is still there, being a rough idea of where each route goes and the emergency phone number.|
|On the other side of the road, the Sam Merrill trail sign is only singed, which is good because it hasn't got a nonflammable backup.|
I proceeded down Sam Merrill to get back to Echo. At first there was a lot of evidence of spot fires all over the place. There was also spots where dirt had been pulled down to fight a bit of fire, sometimes onto the trail. Standing dead trees were chopped down. There was also random leavings of old metal things from quite some time ago. I saw many many mountain bikers along this stretch as I went.
|One of many spot fires along the way.|
|Some piece of discarded metal from long ago.|
|Some small trees chopped down to stop the fire.|
Then the trail turned a corner around a little ridge and everything changed. It was no longer spot fire, it was just fire. The entire hillside had burned and the trail made its way right through the middle of it. The loosened dirt and stones were busy falling onto the trail. It was no longer smooth and easy going. Places were starting to fall and others were building up high. It would likely be impassible with the rains came, and they were coming soon.
|The last of the trees at the edge of the burn. Beyond here, it's all charred twigs sticking out of the grey, rocky ground.|
|There's a sign post ahead, but the sign is missing.|
|A bit of clean trail snaking its way through the burned twigs of bushes.|
|Out to the west, with the sun and the moisture in the air, it just looks like rolling hills. Below is the road to Millard campground (closed). Most of the right side and much of the left is burned.|
|The ruins of the old White City on top of Echo Mountain come into view again.|
|Looking back over the charred landscape.|
|Going toward something that isn't burned, the burn has to end some time. Eventually it did leaving the normal brown shrubs.|
|The view over the unburned hillside and out into the distance.|
As I got back to Echo, the sun was starting to set. Time to be getting down the mountain, most likely. More ruins I've not explored are up this trail. Here we get the old observatory which is just a concrete pedestal for the telescope and some walls now.
|Getting back down to a pink Echo Mountain. More ruins are visible from this angle.|
|The observatory. A pedestal for the telescope surrounded by a circle of stones and something more below.|
|Sunset. Time to say good-bye.|
©2009,2010 Valerie Norton
Posted 4 July 2010