Monday, October 29, 2012

Bedford Peak

Hiked: 10/28/2012 (x3)
Distance: 7.2 miles round trip on trail and dirt road
Summit Elevation: 3803'
Prominence: 280'
Elevation Gain: 1953'
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 1.56
Round trip time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Recommended water: 80 oz.
Parking/Fees: Adventure Pass
Difficulty: Moderate

This was my second hike (of many) to Bedford Peak up the Silverado Trail in the Santa Ana mountains. The trail head starts just past the visitor's center on Maple Springs Road. Some of the photos are from the first trip. I made an effort to finish in under 3 hours by increasing my speed on the way down and had no trouble with that goal. The elevation gain according to my GPS was 1953' from the trail head, but many sites have the elevation gain above 2000'. Either way, the climb is steady from the start and enough to get the blood pumping. This is one of my favorite hikes that can be done in a morning. It is a single track trail until the very end when you have to take a dirt road about a quarter mile to Bedford Peak. There were lots of hikers and mountain bikers on the trail.

Looking back on the trail, about half way up.

Bedford Peak straight ahead past the bump at the end of the road

Modjeska peak dominates the view

Bedford summit register

Lake Matthews and San Gorgonio from Bedford

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Big Iron Mountain #1, Bonita Peak

Hiked: 10/24/2012
Route 1 San Gabriel Mountains
Distance: 13.6 miles round trip on trail and use trail
Summit Elevation: 8007'
Prominence: 687'
Elevation Gain: 6864'
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 5.49
Round trip time: 10 hours 18 minutes
Recommended water: 224 oz.
Parking/Fees: Adventure Pass
Difficulty: Very Strenuous

This was a beast of a hike and the namesake for this blog. Iron Mountain #1 is what I mean when I talk about hiking.

To get there (Iron Mountain #1), from Interstate 210, take the Azusa Avenue (SR 39) exit and go north up San Gabriel Canyon about 12 miles to where the East Fork Bridge turns right. Cross the bridge, and continue straight on E Fork Road. When you come to Shoemaker road, stay right on E Fork Road past Camp Williams. Keep going past River Community. When the road curves sharply to the right and becomes Glendora Mountain Road, keep going straight on E Fork, down a small hill and over a wooden bridge. Continue for about a half mile to the parking lot. From the parking lot, you can get a self issued permit to carry with you. There is a gated road near the permits, that is NOT where you want to go. There is another gated dirt road at the other end of the parking lot that follows the river. Go down that road a half mile to the Heaton Flats trail head.

The "easy" part of the hike is the first 5 miles to the Allison Saddle, following a groomed trail over a roller coaster ride of 5 bumps. Along the way, you traverse over the lower peak summit of Bonita Peak. The views from Bonita are not much different than the ridge after 3042'. I didn't find a register or benchmark on Bonita. The up and down theme continues throughout, as you lose elevation then immediately make it up. The hard part comes in the last 2.5 miles when the average elevation gain per mile increases sharply (1370'/mi). Immediately after the Allison Saddle is a very steep scramble up loose dirt and rocks. Beyond that, steady, upward climbing is broken up with some plateaus and occasional dips. The yuccas were not as much of a problem as I'd read in other trip reports. With care, they can mostly be avoided. The final 800' ascent seemed very difficult, maybe because I was tired. The rock scramble just before the summit was a relief from the loose dirt. The steep descent was difficult. I slipped no less than five times, ripping holes in my shorts. I might have moved slower but I was under time pressure to get down before nightfall.

This was my first trip to use the Garmin eTrex 20 GPS with topo maps. I am still learning how to use it, and only used three features: current elevation, direction, and tracking map. The tracking map was very helpful during the descent to make sure I was coming down the same way I went up. The elevation gave me a good idea of where I was on the mountain.

San Antonio Ridge and Mt Baldy from Iron Mountain summit

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Sitton Peak, Boy Scout Peak

Hiked: 10/12/2012
Distance: 9.5 miles round trip on trail
Summit Elevation: 3273' (Sitton), 3240' (Boy Scout)
Prominence: 773' (Sitton), 400' (Boy Scout)
Elevation Gain: 2150'
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 1.72
Round trip time: 4 hours
Recommended water: 80 oz.
Parking/Fees: Adventure Pass
Difficulty: Moderate

Sitton Peak is one of the lower peaks in the Santa Ana Mountains, but still offers nice 360 degree views. It had rained the day before I went so the trail was damp and lush. It remained partly cloudy to overcast the whole day. There is a lot of forest cover at the beginning and plenty of vegetation, but very few yucca and thorny shrubs that plague other hikes. The trails are well groomed and easy to follow. From the 4 corners, I made a hard right onto Sitton Peak trail, although there was no sign.

I took a short detour to climb what I later learned was Boy Scout Peak at 3250' before Sitton Peak to photograph the boulders near the top (second shot). There are large outcroppings of boulders scattered around the mountains in every direction. After passing the bump, the trail descends a good distance to a saddle where you start the ascent of Sitton Peak. The use trail is a little brushy in spots, but not severe. Just remember the general location for the return trip. There is a benchmark at the top and great views into the San Mateo wilderness and down to Ortega Highway. I was glad to made it through a hike without smashing my phone or losing my sunglasses or anything else.

Bear Canyon trailhead next to the Ortega Candy Store

Boulder at the top of Boy Scout Peak

Sign marking the use trial to the summit

Looking down on Ortega Highway from Sitton Peak

Sitton Peak summit

Sitton Peak benchmark