Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Small Mystery of Monument Peak (Part 3)

(GPS: N34 14.730 W117 21.205)

I knew I was not going to be rewarded with really great views, but getting to this monument was the important thing. Here is close up:
This is California Historcal Landmark NO. 618 the GARCÉS-SMITH MONUMENT. You can try to click the picture to read or read my transcription below.
"The Mojave Indian Trail
Traveled by Francisco Garces
March, 1776, and Jedediah S. Smith
November, 1826."

This monument marks part of the old Indian trail from Needles to San Bernadino. The first person of European heritage that came through here would have been Francisco Garcés. Then, in 1826, mountain man Jedediah Smith came through here. Smith is important for being the first American to explore the land. When he came through here with his party he ended up at the San Gabriel Mission for a time. Since he was on Mexican foreign soil at the time he was checked out as being a possible spy by the Mexican governor of San Diego. He was eventually told he had to go back the way he came. Smith came back this way, but then cut through to the San Joaquin Valley. Then he found a way through the Sierra Nevada. He eventually came back this way the next year on another expedition.

The above picture is looking toward Mt. Baldy and HWY 15 below. If I were to continue to the right side of this picture over the next peak I would see into the Lake Silverwood area.
In the above picture I am looking toward the east. The high peak in the middle and in the background is very close to San Gorgonio. If that mountain is not it, then it is directly behind it. The mountain in the background to the right that seems dwarfed by haze except for the top is San Jacinto.

You can see San Jacinto below too. The trail I took hugs the mountain on the right.
I was certainly happy to solve what appeared to be a mystery to me. There are a few sources that give brief explanations about this site, but this is not your typical California Historical Landmark where big signs identify where it is, nor does it have the typical monument logo.

Okay, so it was time to head down which seems like it should be easy since all I would do is descend back the way I came. Here is what I did not tell you in the previous blogs. I was told that I would have Gatorade in my trunk when I drove out here. I specifically asked about this the morning I came. It turns out I did not have any. Okay, no problem because I had a few bottles of water.

That was okay in the morning, but it was still dry. As it got warmer I started to feel it on the way down. I used the water, but I was still not feeling good. If I were hiking in the Eastern Sierra somewhere this probably would not be an issue. I can go quite sometime in cooler conditions without any drink. In fact, about a month ago I did just that a bunch of times.

This area was different for me. The lack of electrolytes from Gatorade started doing strange things to me. I finished the hike and kept drinking water. On the way home I had a real woozy feeling. I should have stopped off and purchased a drink, but I just kept going home. I did get something to drink at home, but the effects of the heat and what I assume was dehydration stayed with me. For some reason my anxiety level was up for the next few days. This was something I had never experienced on any hike I have done before from Mt. Whitney to Towne Peak in Death Valley. The lesson: make sure you have your Gatorade with you!

Edit (May 2012): I did this hike again in March 2012. The following is the video from it, and a little tribute to my cat as well.

The Small Mystery of Monument Peak (Youtube Version)

The Small Mystery of Monument Peak (Vimeo Version)

Music used from Discovery Hit, Expeditionary, Tenebrous Brothers Carnival- Mermaid. 

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Small Mystery of Monument Peak (Part 2)

As I mentioned in the lost blog, I could see into the beginnings of Cajon Pass. On a clearer day it may not be too bad.
However, looking towards the west on this day was not a pretty sight. This is somewhat to be expected in hiking the southern parts of California. Usually, to avoid something like this you have to wait until just after it rains.
I continued up the road after that big switchback. I kept thinking, "How much further?"
There were a lot of burned out trees up here. There were some ravens flying over me. These types of bushy trees were becoming more common as I made this turn.
It started to level out a bit. At one point there was a patch of snow in a shady part of the road. Make no mistake, it was very dry, but I was still feeling okay at this point. I kind of knew I was about to reach my goal. My problem was I was not sure of the exact area I was looking for. The trees started to blot out what you could see ahead.
I was almost a bit unlucky on this one. I kept thinking I had passed the area I was after. As I went through the final half mile I finally saw a split in the road. I could continue to my right, but to the left is the final short ascent to the top of where I was going.
If you look closely in the picture you can see that there is a monument. That was what this whole hike was about. I will wrap this up next time with revealing what the story is behind this place.

Edit (May 2012): I did this hike again in March 2012. The following is the video from it, and a little tribute to my cat as well.

The Small Mystery of Monument Peak (Youtube Version)

The Small Mystery of Monument Peak (Vimeo Version)

Music used from Discovery Hit, Expeditionary, Tenebrous Brothers Carnival- Mermaid. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Small Mystery of Monument Peak (Part 1)

(GPS: N34 12.520 W117 21.010)

This is one of those hikes I have done that was not really intended to be a scenic one. There is nothing in this one that I experienced the "wow" factor while hiking and viewing the area. This one I had interest in mainly because it was historic, and there was a little mystery involved.

The mystery was that in doing the research for it I could not find very much about it. There are lots of areas called "Monument Peak," but the one I was after is near San Bernadino east of the Cajon Pass. I have driven by this one lots of times going up the pass, but knew very little about it. The actual monument you will see in one of the next blogs is a California Historical Landmark, but everything I read in books about the historical landmarks said to visit the local ranger office for directions. At the time I was not sure if you needed some sort of permit or what to get to it based on what I had read.

I eventually found out enough to get me going, but it was a case of just doing the hike and figuring what was really going on as I was doing it. The morning I did it I drove south of Devore on the 215 HWY. I ended up at Pine Ave., past a residential area, and stopped there. The road I hiked on is called Bailey Canyon Rd. Now it turns out that if you have a good 4WD you do not even have to do any serious hiking. I was there to hike it though and did expect to do about 3,000 ft. of elevation hiking. I cannot remember how many miles it is, but it seemed to me about 5-6 one way.
This is the type of road I hiked on. It is a gradual hike on a dirt road. On the way up I did not encounter anyone, but I did see a man and his dog taking a short cut.
These types of hikes are much different to me than Sierra hikes. Southern California hikes always have a different feel to them in that even though I may encounter forest areas I always feel like I am in the desert going through them. The smell is different, it is much warmer, and I just do not feel as good. Normally, these types of hikes are just exercise hikes to get me prepared for the summer in the north. What kept me going on this one was the end goal and not going up this road to some unknown mountain.
The road goes back and forth through the mountain side with a switchback or two. You do get to see into the beginning of the roads to where Cajon Pass is. I believe the mountain with the most snow on it is Mt. Baldy (Mt. San Antonio)
This next picture shows you how the road goes and then switchbacks higher.

The hike itself was gradual like this, but I kind of got sick of how long it took to do this. It did take about 3 hours which is the normal pace for a 3,000 ft. mountain. As the sun came up the dryness of this hike would start kicking in. It was something that did not affect me on the way up, but it would do some strange things to me on the way down, going home, and over the next few days. I had never had anything this strange happen to me before on a mountain hike.

I will continue this in the next blog.

Edit (May 2012): I did this hike again in March 2012. The following is the video from it, and a little tribute to my cat as well.

The Small Mystery of Monument Peak (Youtube Version)

The Small Mystery of Monument Peak (Vimeo Version)

Music used from Discovery Hit, Expeditionary, Tenebrous Brothers Carnival- Mermaid. 

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Dark Side of Yosemite

Alright, now for my negative rant. For the past few weeks I have been quite irritated and angry. I have let a week go by to let me calm down a bit. If for some reason you get the idea that everything I do for this blog runs smoothly when it comes to the location hunts or hiking I do then I must say that this is not the case at all.

When most people go on their vacations or trips it is usually thought to be a relaxing time compared to the work of normal life. For me that is not really the case. As soon as I leave town the work work, but still work. There is a lot of planning involved that in my case usually starts a year ahead of time depending on where and the scope of what I intend to accomplish. Of course, if I intend to hike then a certain amount of training takes place as well.

Typically, I know what to expect and all possibilities before I get there. I do expect somethings to go wrong. Most of the time I am prepared for those types of things. Stuff like taking the wrong trails or driving to the wrong areas do happen. Other times you have to have more than enough money with you in case emergencies happen. In the old west, they used to use the term "pluck" to describe a person's preparedness, skill, but a little bit a of luck involved.

This year was a bit different. I prepared like I normally would. I did do a few interesting hikes this summer. I did have a few setbacks, and after each one I thought once it was over there would not be another. There was something that happened to make things very difficult this year. As we finished a hike in Yosemite we decided to drive into Yosemite Valley. I had not been to the valley in about five years. I was eager to go back and had planned on going back for about a year. There were a bunch of things I intended to do there which were to show up on this blog. So, as we were driving HWY 120 we passed Tenaya Lake and then saw Clouds Rest. I have good memories of climbing that. Then I knew we would see Half-Dome below it next on the drive. Wait, uh oh! Something is not right! The smoke was everywhere. Yosemite Valley is out there right?
After driving as far as we could we eventually turned around. I got word from some rangers that it was a "controlled fire" that got out of control. The interesting thing is they had not tried something like this since 1990. However, on August 26, 2009 they decided to do it.

Okay, I was slightly irritated at this point. Now, at first, I thought they would have it taken care of in a few days to at most a weeks time period. Then I could go back and visit the valley. This was not the case at all. In fact, not only was Yosemite contaminated with smoke the nearby areas outside Yosemite, including where I live in the summer, to Carson City, NV were poisoned with smoke. On some days it would be clear in the morning and I would think things would change only to get the heavy smoke in the afternoon. Sometimes I would wake up at 4am only to smell the heavy smoke coming through my window.

As the days went along other setbacks would take place, but the fire in Yosemite was a major catastrophe for what I had planned. It really is not fun taking pictures or video of scenic areas with the haze of smoke lingering. Some of what I did was not that bad, and I will show some of it over the next few months.

On the last few days I was there we had planned a hike to Mt. Hoffman. We held off doing it as long as we could with the hope that even if there was some smoke we might still enjoy doing it and have some views from the top. We then found out that the fire was 50% contained. It was now or never for this trip.

We passed the unmanned ranger station entrance before 7am, but as we got to road to the trailhead the smoke was the worst we had seen. You could probably see about a 1000 ft. at most during that morning hour. We decided to turn around.

Back at the entrance we told the ranger we had drove up and back for maybe about 30 minutes and the smoke was much worse that expected. Technically, that was not really true when we looked at our watches it was really about 50 minutes; our sense of time was lost. He immediately gave us a hard time saying he had been there since 6:56am (We must have come through around 6:45-50am). He was really being pedantic about this. True, it was only a $20.00 fee to enter the park, but we really did not even do anything so we really did not feel like we had to pay. He eventually became a little more reasonable, and we told him we stayed on the road so he let us go.

I thanked him, but I have to admit though, as we drove out and I thought about it, I really wanted to hit him for acting that way. I was pretty much demoralized at this point over all the major stuff I wanted to do this summer. Of all times of the year, they did a "controlled burn" in the heart of the summer during tourist season. Why not wait until after Oct. 15 or sometime in Nov. when the season is practically over?

So, I have to admit that Yosemite is sort of a bad word to me right now. I really do not have the desire to enter the park again right now. Eventually, I will be posting what I did this time around when I get some enthusiasm back, but I think I am just going to show other things in the meantime.