12 May 2010

Warm Springs Mountain

Angeles National Forest

Locate the trailhead (if you dare! Edited to correct spot based on the topo, original point went here based on what I remembered of the road and river.)

According to Afoot and Afield in Los Angeles County, there is a trail up Warm Springs Mountain. It doesn't actually get to the top, but it gets close enough to scramble the rest of the way. According to the forest map, there is a trail up Warm Springs Mountain. It even has "OHV" written on it at the top, though that may be due to whatever road at the saddle Afoot and Afield mentioned should be ignored.

The directions seem less complete than usual in the book, but they did seem to hit all the points in getting me there. It says the trail is unsigned at marker 11.23. Unfortunately, the roads in the area have been remeasured. I already found this on the other trail I tried, so wasn't too worried that 11.23 a fully unmarked wall and there wasn't any ravine for the trail to go up from 10.98 or so (where I was parked) to 11.29. That first one was a very tight ravine and very soon after was another, but the other showed no evidence of a trail while the first had a trail up along one side, but no beginning. Once I decided that had to be the one, I could see where people had scrambled into it.

Some people scrambled down into the bottom and some people went up and scrambled their way along the loose rocks, often directly up. Eventually directly up started to seem ridiculous and I saw a little bit of people going down into the bottom of the ravine anyway. It looked much easier to do there, too. I dropped into the ravine and from there didn't know what to do. I was already deciding to turn back instead of try this ridiculous route. However, I didn't much like the idea of scrambling down all the stuff I'd come up. I walked just a few yards down the ravine and spotted what looked like a much better trail on the other side of it. From the entrance, it hadn't looked like there could be a trail on that side.

Plants on the edge of the ravine.
The ravine had lush areas and desert like areas feet from each other.

A bunch of thistles were down in the flat at the bottom of this rarely flat ravine.

Indeed, there wasn't, at that level. It climbed and became the trail I'd seen high up. It turned out of the ravine as it came to the road and proceeded at the top of the cut made for the road, climbing as it went. A wide path could be seen among the slightly thinner sages. Eventually, there came a switchback. It looked like it was popular to miss the switchback. And by popular, I mean a small trail could be seen if you were looking for it. It was hard to see if people had recently traveled the once built trail since the trail bed was actually still pretty good and the travel wasn't causing erosion. I turned and followed the switchback. It climbed back into the ravine, much higher this time.

As I went along the ravine edge, the slope the trail followed got steeper and steeper. The trail got smaller and less stable. I spotted a funny wooden thing in the distance. It was getting hard to find any foothold that didn't slip substantially when I could make out that the funny bit of wood was a footbridge.

A decrepid footbridge.
The slope I was trying to make my way along has fallen down onto much of this footbridge that marks this quite decidedly as a built up trail.

This bridge removes all doubt as to whether I have found the trail. Certainly no one has been building bridges over random spots of ravines for an art project. Examining the hillsides showed the smallest bit of trail going along from the bridge angled upward at a nice and steady slope. I felt that getting there would be quite a challenge. Also, if I was parked 1/4 of a mile from the trail, then I'd gone about 1/2 a mile along it even if it didn't seem so long. This meant that I would have 1 1/2 mile left of this and then there would be another 1/2 mile scramble to get to the top. I decided I didn't really want to do that, after all.

The bridge and trail from it.
Can you spot the trail? The part leading up to the left is visible. The part leading to the bridge to the right is generally under the same rock that has buried one side of the bridge.

The edge of the ravine, high on the trail, did give a good view of the road snaking along next to the river of the main canyon. I settled down to at least have opportunity to draw something.

sketched roadway
My sketch of the roadway snaking down the valley.

And so I turned back. Coming down the road, I spotted a waterfall. It was hard to figure out where to photograph it from since a tree obscured part of it at what might have been the best view.

A thin sheet of water coming down a tall fall into the river below.
Only a thin sheet of water is coming down the falls at the moment.

I decided to sit under the trees by the river and try some watercolor with my travel set of colors and the small watercolor paper block I'd brought with me.

Trees down by the river.
A spot for painting down by the river. There wasn't much water flowing, but it seemed enough to be a river for this arid area.

A cave in the cliffside above the water.
There turned out to be a cave in the cliff wall on the other side of the river.

I got out my waterbrushes, my little tin of paints, and my block of watercolor paper and started painting the bend in the river as it turned around a little shore at the edge of the cliff and then flowed off behind the cliff. Then I cut off the top page and tried another of the cliff face.

watercolor of the bend in the river
The bend in the river. The light stones and darker, colorful water doesn't seem to have been well captured. Using the waterbrushes is quite distinct from brushes you have to dip.

watercolor of the cliff face
The cliff side with its cave and its stripes. Again the water is darker and colorful, the branch is lightest and the rocks are varied with deep midnight blues.

©2010 Valerie Norton
Posted 16 May 2010

1 comment:

Ben Cook said...

The bridge was about as far as I made it too.