San Gabriel Peak: 6,161′
Mount Disappointment: 5,960′
Mount Deception: 5,796′
Mount Markham: 5,742′
Mount Lowe: 5,603
Two years ago, three of us SoCal Bloggers went to Whale Peak. They came to my hood and I tried to show them a good time. Since then, I’ve moved to the Santa Barbara area and started hiking here. We started chatting on twitter and, next thing we knew, we had set a date to meet, and we aimed to visit Sandstone Peak, and possibly Boney Peak, in the area that I camped a few months back, in Point Mugu State Park. However, that entire part of the map was on fire, due to the Spring Fire. So, I looked at the Sierra Club Hundred Peaks Section and we decided to aim for the top of San Gabriel Peak.
Now, those who know me understand that I like to have something with a top to aim for. In my mind, I was hoping to get to the area early, bag one peak, and then meet everyone at the trailhead for San Gabriel Peak. However, getting to the San Gabriel Mountains took a lot longer than I anticipated, so I got to the trailhead about 15 minutes before everyone else. I drank some water, changed into my hiking shoes and donned my sunscreen while my friends for the day showed up.
We made our acquaintances, new friends and reunited ones. It didn’t seem like two years since I had seen SoCal Hiker and East West Hike. I also had the pleasure of meeting @zapplegate and Josh, who recently posted the The Big Southern California Bloggers Interview. I mentioned that it would be great if we bagged some peaks and we all agreed that we would play it by ear. We all got on our respective gear on and headed down the trail.
We started chatting all the way. We are all pretty well-traveled and we all had stories to tell. We had a laugh when someone mentioned, “This is going to be one of the most documented hike in all time.” This was said as we all had our cameras out, taking similar pictures of the surrounding landscape.
We traveled through the old tunnel, the temperature dropping significantly while we were inside. We made right turn at the junction and started climbing towards San Gabriel Peak. At 6,161′, it would be the tallest of the day. The trail, easy to follow, zig-zags up the side of the mountain and before long, we were at the top. I have to admit I was breathing pretty heavily. But some sections were steep and my body was just getting warmed up.
We chatted a bit at the top, shared technology tips (which would be a theme for the hike), and decided we would hike to Mount Disappointment. I was secretly, or maybe not-so-secretly, hoping to make it beyond to Mount Deception.
We hiked down to the access road and, in a matter of minutes, we were at the top of Mount Disappointment, an antenna farm with very similar views as San Gabriel Peak. We stayed for a little bit, before I somehow convinced the group to make it to Mount Deception.
We descended to the access road and talked about longer thru-hiking and came to the use trail that climbs the ridge. We scrambled up to the top of the ridge, following deer tracks and avoiding the dreaded poodle-dog bush. Once again, we were on the top of a peak. Our third for the day. The flies were pretty heavy as we continued to chat and snack. The question was posed, should we hike Mount Markham and Mount Lowe, too?
I recommended that we get back to the fork in the trail and we could decided at that time. Which is what we did. We followed the access road to the trail, and zig-zagged back down to the shoulder of the mountain. We checked the time. It wasn’t even noon yet. Let’s go for it. Anyone who isn’t up for it, let us know and we abort.
We took the left fork of the trail and enjoyed the slow ascent. It was a nice trail and the views were great. Once again we were at the shoulder between two mountains. We decided to climb Mount Markham first.
It was a steep scramble on a rocky ridge. In some places, it was covered in poodle-dog bush. Getting near the top, I was getting tired, so I stopped avoiding the potentially harmful plant. Given my exposure to poison oak that never resulted in any contact dermatitis, I’ve come to the conclusion that I am immune, for now.
At the top, we had another snack. It was pretty steep, but the views were worth it. There was a giant cairn that gave a little shade as I sat next to it. Everyone was a little tired. But Mount Lowe was very close. We scrambled back down that ridge to the shoulder and took another rest. It was hot and we had been hiking for hours. @zapplegate estimated we had gone over 9 miles already.
We decided to hit the fifth peak for the day.
We climbed the slanting trail as it zig-zagged to the top. We claimed the bench at the summit of Mount Lowe and started talking about lunch. And beer. Let’s get off this mountain, we agreed. There were a couple more peaks that I wanted to do, but they will remain for another day. I’d much rather break some bread with friends with a shared passion for the outdoors.
For other perspectives on this fun day, please read: