15 December 2015

Bouquet Canyon

Angeles National Forest

Every once in a while, I hike a little bit more of the Pacific Crest Trail. I got a few more miles of it recently and decided on 0.25% more of it for today. Well, actually for yesterday, but the weather man said today would have a few more hours with the air temperature above freezing. The plan is to make a loop with fire roads. As much as I like a loop, it does come with some bad: about a mile along major roadway to close it. No road signs mark the trail here, but there is a crest on the south side and a large turn out to park in. The sun is giving serious thought to rising as I climb out onto the gravel clearing. The surface is solid under my feet, held together by the last rain which sank in a little and froze.

dawn light over Bouquet Canyon
Already a half hour past dawn on this very short day.

Behind the crest, a sign notes the distance to Mexico. Just 465 miles to go for any southbound travelers. There is no listing for Canada on the other side although that is the direction most traveling the trail will go. That is my choice too. There is a water cache, the open bottle dated in October, and some extras for any who might be on the trail at this late date. This area has some pretty famous trail angels nearby; Agua Dulce is just 10 miles south as the backpacker hikes. My legs are cold and I need to get moving to see if they will warm up.

northbound sign
Heading out "northbound" on the PCT.

footsteps in frozen mud
The evidence of those who passed just before the freeze will last a little longer than usual.

wide, clear trail
A long and easy track upward.

The trail here is very wide and well cleared. There is no danger of getting lost or maybe a little scratched as it winds its way through the chaparral covered hills. The climb is extremely easy and I am still cold as I go. At least there is no breeze to compound the chill.

south side of the canyon
The promise of sunshine on the hills to the south.

water tank
An old tank sits below a side canyon with hints of water. The pipes that once supplied it are in disarray now.

Bouquet Canyon
A moment in the sun looking up the canyon.

The reservoir gradually comes into view down the canyon. The trail makes motions to really start climbing, but the gentle slope remains.

Bouquet Reservoir
Bouquet Reservoir, which is a little bit low like all our lakes.

water tank in canyon again
Must have climbed some, because there is that tank again, now far down the canyon side.

Ranches in Bouquet Canyon.

Just short of the lip of the canyon, the trail gets very close to the road above and there is a short connector between the two. If I was taking too long on the trail, I might use it, but I feel I can do the whole plan. The ground has been frozen solid anywhere that is shadowed. Once over the top and dropping into Spunky Canyon, there is even the thin and crispy remains of a little bit of snow.

Spunky Canyon panorama
Over the top and into Spunky Canyon.

stand of short oaks
Starting down the other side is dropping into a stand of oaks.

There is more than just Spunky Canyon to look at as I make my way down. Way out to the north, the Tehachapi Mountains stand covered a little better with snow than the trail before me and windmills cover the Antelope Valley. Of course, mostly it is just Spunky.

trail into Spunky Canyon
Dropping down into Spunky Canyon.

Spunky Canyon
On down Spunky Canyon, the sides seem to be strewn with trails near the road.

There seem to be a couple of camping spots carved out underneath the chaparral just short of the road. Once out on the road, it is a short climb to the divide and my road back. As usual, the motorcycles around here cannot resist a fuel break and have been throwing down unauthorized trail all over the place. There is one ATV on the road, heading down the other side as I climb back around Spunky Canyon. There is just a lot of quiet up here other than that.

Leona Divide
Climbing up Leona Divide and looking back.

windmills in Antelope
Windmills in the Antelope Valley to power Los Angeles.

Tehachapi Mountains
At twice the elevation (another 4000 feet), the Tehachapi Mountains are holding onto a lot more snow.

As I wander further along the road, I start to edge along and even dip down inside of Lost Valley.

Lost Valley
Found another canyon with the community of Lost Valley nestled within.

Lost Valley
Dipping down into Lost Valley. There is a UPS truck making its way along those dirt roads.

Tehachapi Mountains
Another look at those snow covered Tehachapi Mountains.

There is a bit of a breeze along the ridge line, especially along eastern slopes, and it is getting colder as the sun gets lower. As I pass back into Bouquet Canyon, I decide to indulge in the puffy pants tucked away in my pack and they really are nice.

Bouquet Reservoir
Back to viewing the Bouquet Reservoir, but now with a lot more mountains behind it. The one topped with a lookout is Warm Springs. (Lookout not visible.)

Bouquet Canyon
The road winds high on the canyon wall and the Pacific Crest Trail winds below it in Bouquet Canyon.

road ahead
The light is changing colors.

Bouquet Reservoir
As the land gets dark, the reservoir still shines brightly with light reflected through the air.

I still have a bit of downhill to go as the sun goes down. I really could have used that half hour that got wasted before I started, but it has been too late for that for a while. The road gets all the downhill done in one long, slow go and I find myself delivered to the road beside the Angeles National Forest sign. Surprisingly, there is no gate on it. The last mile along the road also passes quickly. All of the traffic save one car is on the other side, so it could have been worse.

©2015 Valerie Norton
Posted 20 Dec 2015

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