15 May 2011

Allison Gulch Falls

Angeles National Forest

Locate the trailhead.

I decided to go off to up Allison Gulch and maybe up to the mine above. I wasn't able to find others to come along, so decided climbing up out of the canyon along long gone trails would be a bad idea and it was already getting latish. I decided to just go to the falls on up the canyon. I got ahold of a permit for entering the wilderness. Didn't pay quite enough attention given the permit mostly filled out and thus had one saying I was going to the "bridge to nowhere". I was only starting off that way, but would turn off eventually.

So I started down the road. The campground was full of emergency vehicles and it looked like search and rescue were doing exercises with a zipline over the river. They were all packed into bright yellow rain gear since it had been raining the night before and here it seemed to have lasted a little longer here. There were even a few drops falling now and then. Then the road ended at a fallen bridge and the trail hugged along the edge.

Small falls along the trailside.
Along the side of the trail, a small tributary tumbles over some rocks to the river. No need to go so far for a falls.


Until there was no edge. It didn't look like the first crossing, but there wasn't any way to stay along the edge. Since I'd have wet feet soon enough, I went right on through the edge of the water. Indeed, not far along, the trail came to an impassible spot that did look like the crossing although not much obvious trail was on the other side. There I met a couple guys headed up for bungee jumping who had got in too late to go with the guides, and I'd thought that was Saturday only. Didn't have my river legs yet for the crossing and found that it was a bit higher than the last time I was through. That would be why the previous bit of river couldn't be skirted on a few rocks, too. It was colder than I remembered too.

Once across, we climbed up onto the old roadbed on the other side, thus staying high and out of the river for a little bit. It didn't last all that long. Eventually the trail dropped from the roadbed as it seemed to stop and there was a new crossing. The bungee jumpers tried out a bridge of logs, the weak end tied up with more and seemed to do well with it, so I tried it too. Between the bending log and the high water, I managed to get a bit more water into my boot, but not nearly so much as plunging in would have given.

Long washed out bridge and very bendy log bridge.
A rope swing by the river, not sure what for, as we come to a crossing and a washed out bridge. Crossing over to the center support with all the wood piled against it was easy, only some water and many big rocks was over there, but after that is the force of the river, but the tree bridge was crossable.

This part of the trail keeps to this side for a good long while. My expectation was that my turnoff was just after the 3rd (and 4th since it was on the southeast side) crossing. There is always a way up and over when there is an impassible spot here, and sometimes when it's perfectly fine to stay down by the river. It climbs up to roadbed here and there as it goes along.

turbulent river below the roadbed
A view from high above on the roadbed down to a bit of river that looks particularly hard to cross. Lucky we don't have to.

a bit of old blacktop along the way
A piece of the road the trail is going along. The large rocks that make up the roadbed turn into stairs for climbing up onto the rest of it.

an even smaller dribble of water making a sheet of wet on the rocks
Another water fall! Now we can call it done, although it isn't very impressive. Looks like it wouldn't even be there if not for the rain the night before.

yellow flowers
Some flowers along the way.

The trail crosses over a bridge along the roadside. This is a footbridge that seems to have been set right on top of a previous one that dropped down on the south side. It smells strongly of volatiles like they've preserved it the same way they use for the wharf, so expect it to burn well when they've got a fire through. This is probably Laurel Gulch, the one before Allison. Swan rock should be visible soon and the next forced crossing is coming up.

I did not see swan rock, and I hadn't managed to pick it out before. The crossing came and my boots, almost getting dry enough to be comfortable again, were back to oozing water with every step. I pulled out the map to be sure this was the right place and tried to get a look where swan rock should be, but the trees were hard to get around. I crossed back and climbed up to the roadbed with the good trail I knew was up there. I tried to tell the bungee jumpers, caught up to again, that they needed to go right back across, but they didn't want to believe. Too bad, because the trail is much easier to get up to early on.

I sat and wrung out my socks and boots as best as I could and had some lunch. I left my boots off and upside down to drain and put the socks back on to try to dry better. I found my rock. Maybe.

the local environ and the possible swan rock
Could this be swan rock? There between the tree branch and the far tree tops. It's hard to say. Maybe.

hummingbird on a branch, not much bright color
I was not alone while I got some grub. This hummingbird sat by a short while.

bird perched with grub in mouth
Okay, so this might be a real grub. I wasn't the only one eating either.

The trail was quite clear heading up the gulch. I quickly came upon a couple prospector camps down the trail by the water. The trail kept on going without seeming to lessen. Sometimes it skirted bits of poison oak, but that was never very bad.

a bit of trail at the start of the gulch
The trail heading up into the gulch is fairly clear. This bit presents a choice: scratch now or scratch later. Thistles on one side and poison oak on the other. This is about as bad as the poison oak stands got.

bird's nest on the ground
Along the trail, I found a bird's nest that had fallen to the ground full of lichens.

massive mushroom trying to hide in the leaf litter
This mushroom was bigger than my fist, hiding down in the leaf litter.

The trail crossed the creek a few times at first. It would fade and return, too. It stuck mainly to the south side of the creek most of the time after those first few crossings. The north side was more likely to have somewhat clear spaces with overlapping yucca making the way difficult.

one of many green pools along the way
The creek was quite picturesque from moment to moment. Many green pools could be found along the way.

pine tree struggling on the cliff side above the sycamore
The south side was often a short, vertical cliff like the one this pine is perched on the side of.

wide spot along the creek's flow
Sometimes the creek seemed to grow and shrink in order to fill the space of its bed.

wide bit
Another wider spot, with a bit of red stuck under a rock. I'm not sure if this is washed down from above or set here as a marker. There wasn't much trail afterward.

Eventually, the trail did vanish without an easily found section beyond. Above looked to have trails, maybe, and I could see tracks in the form of deep footprints headed up the soft hillside on the south. I followed these, but each possible trail along turned out not to be one. The tracks kept going up and up. I got tired of going up and turned along a promising route, but ended up having to negotiate a tough hillside back down to the stream bed.

a very small spring on the hillside behind a fallen log
Hidden mostly behind this fallen log is a wet spot with no source. Probably a very small spring comes to the surface here.

another pool along the way
Back down to the stream bed. A little bit of trail really does make it easier, but it isn't too bad finding a way.

I came to a stream entering from the right. It was hard to see that it actually was a stream from the right as it paralleled the main stream for a bit and could have just been another island section. The section came to a sudden wedge of land where the waters almost touched, and only careful examination showed that the water on the right was not just falling from the left but coming from the gully on the right.

Looking back from there, I could see another gully to the north. I had missed it coming up, but that was probably the "recommended" route for getting up to the mine these days. The old trail went up the hillside after the gully, but does not look particularly inviting today.

nice rock and pool
Another pool along the way.

As I continued up the side of the stream, I increasingly saw bits and pieces of older human use of the gulch. There were many small pieces of pipe along the way as well as some larger metal pieces.

a leaf spring next to some wood that was also carried down by the stream
Here is a leaf spring nestled among the rocks, leaves, and driftwood also washed up by the stream.

The canyon got narrower and narrower as I went. I started to see pieces of use trail along the way. Still, there were some hard spots.

huge piles of logs
A particularly narrow spot at a corner and an old tree make a blockage along the way that has become piled high with debris. This was difficult to negotiate, but easier once I realized the bit of rope was leftover from use in some other location and washed down with the branch it was on, not a previous path.

For the second part, go here, as this has been arbitrarily broken into two pages.





©2011 Valerie Norton
Posted 23 May 2011

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