Monday, January 15, 2018

Sierra Peak via Skyline Drive

Hiked: 1/14/2018
Distance: 17.1 miles round trip on dirt road
Summit Elevation: 3045'
Elevation Gain: 3196'
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 2.55
Round trip time: 6 hours 15 minutes
Recommended water: 88 oz.
Parking/Fees: Free on Foothill Parkway
Difficulty: Strenuous

This day didn't go as planned. I was going to drive up to Santiago Peak and do some exploring around the summit, but the gate on Maple Springs Road was closed. My backup plan was to check out the Doppler radar tower above Beek's Place by going up Skyline Drive in Corona. Because of the late start, I had to park a long way from the trail on Foothill Parkway. Skyline rose at a low grade and had dozens of switchbacks. This was great on the way up, but tedious on the way down. The trail was busy with a 50/50 mix of hikers and mountain bikers. I cruised up at a reasonable pace to the intersection of Skyline and Main Divide Road. At the intersection were four large thin red and white radio towers I had never noticed before. I took a left on Main Divide and went by Beek's Place to the Doppler tower. The tower pieces were assembled in a way that made it look like a cracked egg. While I was there, I wanted to check out the ridge line down into Tin Mine Canyon. I poked around and wandered a short distance down what looked like an animal trail. The trail was quickly swallowed by brush and it confirmed my suspicion that any descent along that ridge was going to be problematic. Not only was it dense, there are sub-ridges, and staying on track would be difficult. In any case, I was unprepared for a serious brush fight. As I started back, I noticed Sierra Peak in the distance. It didn't look too far and the GPS calculated it at 2 miles as the crow flies. I was short on water but decided I could make it. I wanted to check out the burn damage around the peak from the Canyon Fire that scorched 2600 acres back in September. The road took many twists turning the 2 crow miles into 3 biped miles.

Doppler tower barely visible at the top of Tin Mine Canyon

Inland Empire from Skyline Drive

Doppler up close

Descending this ridge would be a full contact fight

Sierra Peak

When I got close, I could see the entire summit area had been barbecued. Every plant on the eastern slopes was black and there was no grass. The southeast tower apparently took the brunt of the fire as it swept over the summit. It was destroyed. A sign on the tower warned that it was unsafe. The northwest tower had some burns on the building, but appeared to be operating. Remarkably, the rest of the towers looked fine, some with superficial smoke damage. The benchmark was still in place. It was another clear day with fantastic views, including a crisp outline of Catalina. I rested below the destroyed tower for a while and nursed the water I had left. It was a long way back but the road was easy going. There were several mountain bike use trails that could be taken as shortcuts down Skyline Drive. I only took one shortcut, dodging a red bike bombing down at 40mph. I wished I had taken more since the lower switchbacks were interminable. A 17 mile hike usually leaves me soaked in sweat, but minor dehydration left me dry. I picked up some extra water while driving home.


Looking south at the rest of the Santa Ana range

Air conditioners were ready to fall through the roof

Clear outline of Catalina

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Mt. Jurupa and Peak 1913

Hiked: 1/13/2018
Distance: 5.3 miles round trip on trail and use trail
Summit Elevation: 2217' (Jurupa), 1913' (Peak 1913)
Prominence: 1167' (Jurupa), 613' (Peak 1913)
Elevation Gain: 2057'
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 1.64
Round trip time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Recommended water: 48 oz.
Parking/Fees: Free at Martin Tudor Regional Park
Difficulty: Easy

Mt. Jurupa is north of Riverside and south of Fontana off highway 60. It is one of the many small, but fun urban mountains in the area. There was plenty of parking at the Martin Tudor park and plenty of amenities including restrooms, tables, and play structures. The Jurupa Hills north trail starts northwest of the parking area around a fence. I took a shortcut through the fence to reach the trail. One of the steepest sections is right near the start up wide rutted dirt. A few places were rocky along the way and it is a nice cardio workout. It is also a graffiti art gallery. In general, I despise graffiti in a natural setting, but the city has obviously lost the battle in the park. And I must admit, a lot of the art and murals are high quality and took a lot of effort. Amid the spray painted initials and gang related stuff were images of Pink Floyd, Hunter S. Thompson, Skulls, Donald Duck, and more. After getting over being offended, I started to enjoy the art. I reached the wide, flat top of Mt. Jurupa in a little over 30 minutes and talked with some mountain bikers. Great 360 views greeted me on an unusually clear day. All the major ranges were in clear view. Airplanes flew by regularly on approach to LAX. I walked around the summit but didn't find a benchmark. After a short break, I started down. I tried to picture a route up the second highest peak in the Jurupa Mountains, Peak 1913, just on the other side of Sierra Avenue. I could see a clear road near the top, and a possible use trail on the west side. I didn't see any crosswalks in either direction or any way to get across the busy street other than running across. When I got back to the car, I replaced the bottle of water I drank then headed to the south side of the park to look for a way to Peak 1913. Round trip stats for Jurupa alone were 2.5 miles and 1130' gain.


Follow the white rabbit

The Wall and Dark Side of the Moon

Hunter S. Thompson

San Gabriel Mountains from Jurupa, and a plane on the way to LAX

Santa Ana Mountains

Looking down on Peak 1913

At the south end of the park, I continued on a dirt road hoping to find an overpass that might allow me under the road. Not far past the turnaround, I spotted a large round steel culvert going under the road. Bingo! It was decorated with graffiti but the way was clear. I had to jump over some muddy water at the far end but was energized after finding this secret passage. A trail continued outside the concrete walls of the community nestled against Peak 1913. Around the next corner was the use trail I needed. The dirt was soft from rain a few days before. Like Jurupa, the first section was the steepest. The trail connected with a dirt road for the second hill, then I was on the saddle between Peak 1913 and a lookout point. First things first, I followed the road to the summit and got a great look at Jurupa and the other local hills. No benchmark, no register. Then, I descended back to the saddle and headed out to the lookout point. There was a large class 1 boulder there and more great views. I only lingered for photos before heading back down the use trail, through the culvert, and back to the park. I collected some plastic bottles and other assorted garbage on the way back, but honestly, it didn't make much of a dent in the litter. I was the only person on Peak 1913.

Passage under the road

Peak 1913 from the top of the first hill

Mt. Jurupa from Peak 1913

Lookout point

Oak Quarry Golf Club

Doggy grave

Sunday, January 7, 2018

False Sombrero Peak

Hiked: 1/5/2018
Distance: 2 miles round trip on use trail and cross country
Summit Elevation: 3463'
Elevation Gain: 1359'
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 1.08
Round trip time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Recommended water: 64 oz.
Parking/Fees: Free on North Indian Canyon Road
Difficulty: Moderate

After hiking Sombrero, I drove from the end of South Indian Canyon Road to the end of North Indian Canyon Road. False Sombrero (SDC #63) had two major sections. The first part was climbing up a rough gully and the second part was a steep sandy slope. It offers up a calf ripping 1359'/mile of gain. From the turn around, I started north into the gully. I didn't see any use trail so I picked my way up and around the boulders and thorny plants. Occasionally, I saw a footprint in the sand, but mostly the terrain felt wild. It had warmed up since the morning into the low 70s and I expected to run into some slithery reptiles but didn't. Once I got out of the gully, I tackled the long sandy slope toward the saddle. I found a use trail and did my best to slog up. The sand was 3" deep and it was like walking on the beach at a 35 degree angle. Because I finished Sombrero ahead of schedule, I didn't have any time pressure so I took my time going up and sliding back. It was slow, but eventually I got to the saddle. I continued around north of the peak, then scrambled up. The summit block was an easy class 2 from all sides. I found the register inside a glass jar inside a red can. The register was small and although it went back to 1989, it wasn't full. Outside of list chasing peakbaggers, I'm not sure who would even know about False Sombrero. I went through the list and recognized nearly half the names. I took a lot of photos of the register pages for posterity before signing my own. The views were even better than from Sombrero, especially of the Sawtooth Mountains and the Inner Pasture. I hung around the summit for 20-30 minutes, an eternity for me, resting and enjoying the sights and perfect weather. I couldn't help but think of the poor souls in most of the country dealing with sub-freezing and sub-zero temps. The West is the best. Get here and we'll do the rest. Returning was much easier as I casually plunge stepped the sandy slope and scrambled back down the gully. It was a short, stiff hike and worth every step.

North gully and False Sombrero

Rough country heading for the saddle

Looking down the sandy slope, Sombrero in the background

Summit block

Indian Valley

Red Top right, Inner Pasture, Laguna Mountains left

Red Top and Sawtooth Mountains high point

First entry in the register

Paul Freiman

Bob Burd, Tom Becht

Ben Baumann and Anna Tan

Daren Sefeik

Craig Barlow

Greg Gerlach, Kelley Laxamana, Larry Edmonds,
Shelly Britton, Mikey Sullivan

Matt Hanan

Patrick O'Neill

Driving out