Saturday, October 13, 2012

Mt. Wilson Loop -- October, 5 -7, 2012

Mt. Wilson Open Jaw – 27 miles
October, 5 -7, 2012

After nearly two months of 90-degree-plus days, an 80-degree weekend sounded real good! Last weekend I lead our Boy Scout Troop on an over-night to Henninger Flats (above Pasadena). The hike up was upward towards 100 degrees and the lows got down to 75-degrees. Tough conditions, but I was able to get the boys to lighten their packs; the average base weight of all 16 backpackers was 14-1/2 pounds. A big change from what they were used to at nearly 25-30 pounds.

Day 1:  Chantry Flats to Spruce Grove -- 4 miles
My wife and I like to backpack together but she made plans so I was going solo with the dog, Andy. She dropped me off at Chantry Flats just after 5:00PM and we were on our way. The original plan was to thru hike the 28-mile Gabrielino Trail, but a good section of the trail was closed due to fires a few years back. So on to plan B, whatever that might be.

My base weight for this trip was 9 lbs 7oz. The trail leading up to Spruce Grove was mostly deserted except for a few heavy-haulers, gasping for air. I past Spruce Grove and stealth camped in a thicket off trail just before the Newcomb’s Pass junction. I made dinner about 50 yards from camp, dehydrated homemade chili and Sleepytime hot tea. I planned on bringing enough alcohol (fuel) for one hot meal a day plus a little extra for coffee in the morning, which comes out to about 1.5oz fuel per day. It was cool and clear with a slight breeze—about 65-degrees. The low both nights was about 56.

Day 2:  Spruce Grove to Idelhour Camp via the West Fork -- 17 mile 

I was able to clear camp in less than 15 minutes. I got up at 6am and was on the trail by 6:15am. About halfway to Newcomb’s Pass, I ate breakfast (Grape Nuts with homemade dehydrated blue berries and Nido in a freezer bag). Up over the pass and down into Devor Camp, the trail was in pretty good condition and mostly deserted. I ran into two different backpackers camping; one guy who had a few days off at work and was practicing being a "happy wanderer," and another with inadequate clothes and no food. I gave him two Clifbars and some stern advice.

The trail along the West Fork had some damage from the fires, winds and what looked like flooding. Parts of the original trail were missing, but new paths were cut making navigating through the canyon fairly easy. I was very surprised to find so much water flowing. The only obstacle I ran into was the poodle-dog bush cropping up alongside the trail.


By the time I reached West Fork Camp, I made a decision to head up to Mt. Wilson via Kenyon Devor Trail and down the front side to Idlehour Camp. The climb was steep with sections burned out and lined with withering poodle-dog bush, but the terrain and views were spectacular. 

The weather held out nicely with highs only in the mid to upper 70s.

Once on top of Mt Wilson, I couldn’t resist a hot dog and a Coke at the Cosmic CafĂ©! The walk down the Toll Road went fast, getting me to my next destination, Idelhour Camp, at 4:30pm. I was pleasantly surprised to find the camp uninhabited, so I took full advantage and went swimming in one of the pools downstream.

After another dehydrated, home-cooked meal, I took a few notes, secured the bear bag and was in bed by 7:30pm.

Day 3: Idlehour to Eaton Canyon via Henninger Flats – 6.3 miles
Up at 6:30am, I took my time and made coffee, enjoying the cool, quiet morning. Once packed up, I hit the trail only seeing a handful of trail runners effortlessly passing me. After a quick stop for breakfast at Henninger, I made it to the Eaton Canyon parking lot by 10am where my wife was waiting with smiles, a hug and a hint of jealousy….

The dog, Andy: He is a 14-pound, five year old chiweenie (dachshund and chihuahua mix). He is good for about 18 – 20 miles a day with me, except for when its hot; he doesn’t do so well.