Friday, May 17, 2013

Pleasants Peak

Hiked: 5/17/2013
Distance: 16.5 miles round trip on dirt road, trail, use trail
Summit Elevation: 4007'
Prominence: 647'
Elevation Gain: 3775'
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 3.02
Round trip time: 7 hours
Recommended water: 144 oz.
Parking/Fees: Adventure Pass
Difficulty: Strenuous

Pleasants Peak is one of the LPC peaks in the Santa Ana Mountains. It can be seen from many places along Main Divide Road with two communication towers which are on a slightly lower and flatter bump from the actual peak. I started at 5:15 AM from the Maple Springs Visitor's Center parking lot, then up the single track Silverado Motorway Trail that is mostly used to reach Bedford Peak. My head lamp worked great in the dark, occasionally throwing a scary shadow in the brush. Several birds were settled on the trail, resting or looking for food. Their eyes reflected red from my light and they only flew away as I got close. When I got to the Main Divide/Bedford Peak road intersection, I headed toward Bedford to sign the register that I had missed my last three trips. My friend Rod clued me in to its location and I found it without incident. Tagging Bedford added about half a mile to the hike.

After a quick half sandwich, I got back on Main Divide Road toward Pleasants. This early in the morning, the "May Gray" clouds had enveloped the mountains and I could only see about 100' in any direction. I never got a glimpse of Pleasants peak on the way there due to the clouds. It was also misting, a mixed blessing. I was wet, but it kept me cool. Main Divide Road winds a long, twisted path to Pleasants Peak up and down bumps. Feeling strong early, I added some gain to the hike by climbing some of the bumps via fire roads. I also jogged some of the downhills. On one of the fire breaks, I had to wade through very wet tall grass. When I got back to the road, my pants were soaked from the knees down and my summer hiking boots and socks were also soaked. Wet socks with more than 8 miles of hiking in front of me was bad news.

By the time I reached the use trail heading up Pleasants Peak, I had developed a hot spot on my left heel. I stopped and taped it, then put my wet socks and boots back on and continued up. The use trail is somewhat steep and filled with scree. The high point of Pleasants Peak comes at the top of the use trail, then it continues down a saddle to another bump only 20-25' lower where the two communication towers are located. On the other side of the towers is a large, flat area that had cement pipe stumps sticking up. It looked like an old construction site or a place with underground storage tanks. The clouds were still blocking all views, which I suspected were pretty good from there. I took a short break to eat and down a gatorade, then started back the way I came. The trip back was uneventful, but my legs were not as springy so I skipped a lot of the bumps and stuck to the road. When I got back to the Silverado Motorway trail, the clouds had mostly cleared and I was able to get a shot of Pleasants Peak from a distance. It looked far away. I didn't meet a single person or vehicle the entire day.

Gear note: This was a Whitney trainer for me, so I took my Marmot pack after adding "stuff" bags to keep things organized. I have one bag for food, one for emergency supplies, and one for lighting. That really worked well. Water was loose at the bottom. The only thing I need to improve is to find a way to change the position of the straps on my shoulders. Long days with pressure in the same spot can be a problem.



Cairn garden on the Silverado Trail


Summit use trail heading to Pleasants Peak


Comm tower on Pleasants Peak


Descending back to the road, clouds starting to clear


Pleasants Peak in the distance (shot on return)




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