29 October 2016

Pacifico Mountain

Angeles National Forest

This weekend, I am joining up with a big celebration of the Hundred Peaks Section. Virginia Simpson is finishing the peak list and Bill Simpson is finishing leading other people up every peak on the list for the fourth time. They picked a mountain with a road up so that those who cannot hike can go too. Unfortunately, the road has not actually been open for a while, so everyone will be hiking in anyway. It is about 5.5 miles on trail then a last push up the mountain to the finish. The requirement to hike a decent number of miles does not seem to have reduced the crowd any. At least there is plenty of parking for them. We are a little later than scheduled as we start up the Pacific Crest Trail to Pacifico Mountain.

road crossing on the Pacific Crest Tral
This is how a Hundred Peaks party gets started.

The area was burned by the Station Fire in 2009 and the hillsides are a bit more open than they used to be. Counting the people as we stop to lose a layer in the chill and overcast day, there seem to be about 68±2 people on the hike today. It is quite crazy.

brushy hills
The hills are hilly and covered in short stuff.

Mount Gleason
Mount Gleason also burned. Spot the orange dot and that is the hat of a poor hunter who has just had a quarter mile line of people walk past his post. It is hunting season.

blackened forest
Coming upon what was the forest.

As we climb higher, we start to get some really nice views out toward the desert. On this dreary day with rain threatening, the spots of sunshine really sparkle in the distance.

sun on low hills
There is sun out there somewhere, at least in spots.

live trees
There are trees up ahead! Live trees!

group ahead
The line marches on toward the top.

There are trees higher up the mountain. It is nice to see that the forest fire was not complete in its destruction. On a sunnier day, we might be welcoming the shade as well. Today, we welcome the sides of slopes where we are sheltered from the light, but chill, wind.

among trees
It is nice to be hiking among some mature trees.

Under the trees, we reach a saddle where the trail and road nearly touch. It is marked by a sign for the Pacific Crest Trail that is a little mysterious because it contains the trail number even though trails are not numbered in this region. This is where the easy climb along trail is over and we break off to reach the top of the mountain. We could also elect to take the long, slow turns of the dirt road up to the top, but we do not.

steeper climb
Leaving the trail for the last, steep climb.

The road comes to the top because there is a campground up there. Handy tables make it a great place for a potluck and party. Mounds of food and a bit of champagne and sparkling cider come out to cover a couple of the tables as the celebration of the two list finishes gets started.

mountain top party
Cool, but not cold, for a fall mountain top party.

Of course we have to go and visit the tallest bit of the mountain top. I head up to poke around the rocks before thinking much of food and drink. I still have not been there, so it makes sense to me to do that first. It is rocky with a few tall ones among the trees. With a little help, I can find one of the benchmarks. It is a station of a sort that usually has some other station nearby. For this one, the description of the benchmark calls this one a reference that is 12 feet below the station, so it is somewhere on one of the tall rocks. I am not quite comfortable on the climbing of these rocks to check them, though. Also at the top are a couple posts that look like they might have been part of a lookout base.

rocky top
The rocky top of Pacifico Mountain.

Catalina Island
The air above may be thick, but Catalina Island is visible over Mount Wilson from Pacifico Mountain.

There is lots to eat and lots of chatter, but eventually everyone cleans up. There is a group picture of, well, much of the group. I am wandering off again around the campground, so miss the picture. Then we all head down again.

Down again along the same track to the trail below.

flat distant desert
Views over the flat distant desert.

road on the mountain side
The road up the side of the mountain.

On the way down, the threats of rain materialize into a few well spaced drops. It is only enough to notice and not enough to pull on anything. We slowly head off our separate ways once back to the cars.

©2016 Valerie Norton
Posted 9 November 2016

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