05 May 2016

Jupiter Mountain

Angeles National Forest

The stars are still no aligned for Jupiter Mountain. The low chance of rain looks rather like it will materialize, although the amount may not be much, and it is a bit colder than expected. The clouds are low over the mountains, but not so low as the peaks. There is some slight promise of clearing. Where the mountains stop and the flat desert starts, there is a bit of blue visible. The potential of rain seems like a stronger promise. Parking is easy in a large turnout at the bottom of Spunky Edison. The trail is unmarked as it starts climbing past a water tank.

psudo gate
The trail starts among a grove of pines that appear planted.

It starts off looking like road. I go left; the other side loops through the trees that occupy the saddle. The ground is terraced and the trees are unique to the area. It could be an old tree farm. The trail passes a water tank and splits again. This time I go right and shortly find the climbing thin track I am expecting. There are two routes up to the top of Jupiter: this trail to the fuel break and climbing the gentler west slope or the fuel break directly to climb the steep east slope. I want to hit the western peak known as Juno as well and am not looking for a brutal but quick climb just to say I have been there, so I will approach from the west.

three caterpillars having their day
The caterpillars are out and munching, but very, very slowly in the cool.

dirt track ahead
Climbing along a well established trail.

Grass Mountain
Grass Mountain sits across Green Valley near the edge of the clouds.

The trail is dry, but the foliage is full of water. There must have been some little bit of rain last night, too. The climb on the trail seems quite easy and quickly gains views. The sun comes out for a few minutes and it feels nice and warm.

soggy seeds
Water drops have gathered at the tops of everything.

Spunky Canyon
Spunky Edison on the other side of the patch of pines rises to the last ridge before the wide expanse of desert.

The top comes soon enough and joins wind with the chill. The entire hike is only about 5 miles long. More views can be had now, although they are quite grey. I continue westward along the top to grab the lower peak first. The trail drops again before climbing Juno.

ridge track to Juno
The bump of Juno rises in the distance after a drop.

grey landscape
A lot of grey. The glint of water in Castaic Reservoir can just be seen. The murk does not quite hide the pipes below in Cherry Canyon leading from Bouquet Reservoir to the powerhouses.

Jupiter Mountain
Bouquet Reservoir comes into view over the shoulder of Jupiter Mountain.

Arriving at Juno, there is a bright red peak register set just in January. The fuel break continues over the side and the prints on it suggest it keeps going to some accessible place.  I explore it a little further before returning and pulling on a windbreaker against the blowing cold air.  Since achieving the crest, I have been noticing two planes slowly circling over the powerhouse below and no matter how far I go, I cannot see any reason for it.

ranches in a flat valley
Ranches below as the blue sky vanishes. Above them is the thin line of the Pacific Crest Trail, the thicker line of Leona Divide Fireroad, and the crests I walked Saturday.

Grass Mountain
Grass Mountain rises above Green Valley. It is higher than this peak, but so is the Burn benchmark.

I turn back to retrace my steps for a bit and then climb the real peak of this mountain.  It is getting colder and I add a fleece to the windbreaker upon arrival.

top of Jupiter Mountain
At the top of Jupiter Mountain, there is a bench to rest.

The peak register here has seen much better days. It is a couple books exposed to the elements in a single half crushed can tucked into the side of a makeshift fire ring complete with kindling. Someone has it out for this register. The murk of clouds is increasing and it is obvious that the promise of rain will, indeed, win out as a few drops start to fall. I do try to take in the view anyway. The Lower Peaks Committee lists this peak for its "view and historic sites". Off to the southwest was the site of the start of one of California's greatest disasters, the catastrophic failure of the St. Francis Dam. It only lasted two years to the day from when they started filling it up. There is a historic monument to point out the location next to the rebuilt powerhouse that was destroyed by the wall of water as it made its way to the sea.

more grey view
The view, such as it is. The old reservoir was somewhere in the left portion.

Bouquet Reservoir
Bouquet Reservoir sits below drowning some of its trees.

It is not too long before I start down the fuel break. By the footprints, the most recent visitors all came up this way and continued down via the trail. On this side, it is wide and eroded and has some particularly steep areas that require careful footing. I do not rush too much and the rain does not increase particularly.

fuel break downward
Down the fuel break to get off the mountain.

The disturbed areas of the fuel break have a different set of flowers.

prickly poppy
A prickly poppy is a surprising find along the way.

©2016 Valerie Norton
Posted 8 May 2016

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