Gary Valle's Photography on the Run
Images taken on trail runs, and other adventures, in the Open Space and Wilderness areas of California, and beyond. All content, including photography, is Copyright © 2006-2014 Gary Valle. All Rights Reserved.
# Sunday, June 04, 2006

Mt. Williamson from the PCT above Windy Gap.
Mt. Williamson from the PCT Above Windy Gap

There's more of a wilderness feel in the Angeles Forest high country today. A big chunk of Angeles Crest Highway is closed. From Eagles Roost to Mt. Baden-Powell, and back again, the absence of vehicle noise has been startling. There have been no squealing tires, warbling sirens, or red-lined RC51's echoing up from Highway 2. Instead, the loudest sound is Little Jimmy spring water splashing at my feet. High on a ridge, a Clark's Nutcracker tells me I'm in the mountains. and overhead, the wind plays quietly in the boughs of an immense Incense Cedar.
Sunday, June 04, 2006 8:55:24 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #   
# Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Caterpillar Phacelia (Phacelia cicutaria)

Caterpillar Phacelia (Phacelia cicutaria) was prevalent at Sage Ranch prior to the 2005 Topanga Fire. It may be somewhat more widespread than I've generally seen, but this could be due in part to last year's record rainfall and this season's late rainfall. It doesn't appear to be a fire follower in the same sense as Large Flowered Phacelia, Star Lily or Dicentra, whose populations have increased dramatically this year.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 12:44:29 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #   
# Sunday, May 28, 2006

New growth on a Big Cone Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga macrocarpa) in the San Gabriel Mountains.

Bright green highlights new growth on a Big Cone Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga macrocarpa) in the San Gabriel Mountains near Josephine Peak and Strawberry Peak.

These peaks are popular lower elevation summits, that can be snow-free in Winter, or a blast furnace in Summer. Josephine Peak (5558 ft.) was once the site of fire lookout, and a fire road leads from Clear Creek Station to its summit. From the west, via Clear Creek or Colby Canyon, Strawberry Peak (6164 ft.) is a more difficult ascent that requires careful route-finding and rudimentary rock climbing skills. Many hikers prefer to do Strawberry from the east, starting at Red Box.

The day this photograph was taken, I wasn't climbing Strawberry Peak, but instead was running a circuit around the peak. Part of the Mt. Disappointment 50K course, the circuit is an excellent 15 mile loop with an elevation gain/loss of about 2700 ft. Here's a Google Earth image and Google Earth KMZ file of a GPS trace of the Strawberry Peak Circuit. A longer variant of this route is described in Fall Leaves on Bear Creek and Strawberry - Bear Canyon Loop.

Sunday, May 28, 2006 12:54:27 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #   
# Saturday, May 27, 2006

Giant Rye Grass (Leymus condensatus) can grow several feet tall.

Giant Rye Grass (Leymus condensatus) is a member of the grass family that can grow several feet tall. These, out at Sage Ranch, are in the 5-7 ft. range.

Later in the year, after its large green blades turn brown, they have a peculiar, almost ghostly, way of rustling in the wind; sounding as if an animal or person has gently moved through them. (Photograph from a run on May 26, 2006.)

Saturday, May 27, 2006 7:47:37 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #   
# Friday, May 26, 2006

Rock formation northwest of the Chumash Trail.
Rock Formation Northwest of the Chumash Trail

Practically any objective can make a good excuse for an adventure. Each time up or down the Chumash Trail, I pondered the prominent rock formation northwest of the trail, and wondered what I might find there.
Friday, May 26, 2006 1:49:20 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #   
# Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Tracks of runners, mountain bikers, a hiker, a rattlesnake, a wind-blown grass seed, and a motorcycle on Laskey Mesa.

Runners, mountain bikers, a hiker, a rattlesnake, a wind-blown grass seed, and a motorcycle -- all up on Laskey Mesa in Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve (formerly Ahmanson Ranch).

Tuesday, May 16, 2006 7:49:34 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #   
# Saturday, May 13, 2006

Owl's Clover, in this case Castilleja exserta, is a fairly common California native.

A close view of Owl's Clover reveals the probable reason for the name -- fat little purplish-pink owls, crowned with a tinge of yellow, perched amid the purplish-pink of this unusual blossom.
Saturday, May 13, 2006 9:55:40 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #   
# Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Part of the Panorama from Olancha Peak.
Part of the Panorama from Olancha Peak

Olancha Peak (12,123 ft.) is the prominent, pyramidal peak seen on the Sierra crest from Hwy 395, south of Olancha. Its rocky summit is above tree line, and in some years snow can persist in the east-facing summit gullies and other sun-protected areas into late June, or early July.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006 9:34:04 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #   
# Monday, May 08, 2006

Sunset at Sage Ranch Park, a few weeks following the Topanga Fire.

 

Sunset at Sage Ranch Park, a few weeks following the Topanga Fire. The loop at Sage Ranch is about 2.4 miles. My usual route here is an out and back of about 4.5 miles. It's a good short-day run with an elevation gain/loss of about 700 ft. (Photo from a run on November 14, 2005.)
Monday, May 08, 2006 8:20:55 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #   
# Friday, May 05, 2006

Leaf of Milk thistle (Silybum marianum).

 

Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) is an aggressive invasive species not native to California. In Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve (formerly Ahmanson Ranch) it seems to be increasingly abundant, particularly in the aftermath of the Topanga Fire. Last year, in some areas of Upper Las Virgenes Canyon, it grew thick as corn and more than head high.

Friday, May 05, 2006 7:51:50 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #   
# Thursday, May 04, 2006

Lichens on Chatsworth Formation sandstone at Sage Ranch.

Lichens are composite lifeforms, usually comprised of a fungus and algae, or a fungus and cynobacterium. Generally, the fungus provides shelter and needed minerals, and the algae, using photosynthesis, provides food. This community is on Chatsworth Formation sandstone at Sage Ranch.

There is a tendency to think of living things, including ourselves, in the singular. But most life is a intertwined assemblage of cooperating organisms, from the very small to the very large, living in harmony. Circle within circle, life within life.

Thursday, May 04, 2006 9:26:36 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #   
# Saturday, April 29, 2006

This photograph was taken October 23, 2005, on one of my favorite loops in the San Gabriel Mountains. This adventurous route starts at Islip Saddle, follows the South Fork trail down to South Fork Campground, then takes the Manzanita Trail up to Vincent Gap and the Pacific Crest Trail. From here, the PCT is followed up, and with a slight detour, over Mt. Baden-Powell, and then along the crest of the San Gabriels back to Islip Saddle. It's a very wild and scenic 23 mile run that covers a wide range of elevations. South Fork Campground is at 4,560 ft., and the summit of Baden-Powell is at 9399 ft. Total elevation gain and loss on the run is well over 5000 ft.

This year, it might make more sense to start this loop at Vincent Gap. In order to protect critical habitat of the mountain yellow-legged frog, the Forest Service has closed 1,000 acres in the upper Little Rock Creek drainage, including Williamson Rock, and the PCT between Eagle's Roost and the Burkhart Trail. In addition, Angeles Crest Highway (SR2) is now closed at Cedar Springs, just west of Eagles Roost.

Update May 21, 2009. Angeles Crest Highway (SR2) has since been re-opened to Islip Saddle, and through to Wrightwood.

Following are links to PDF maps of the closure area and the PCT detour. For more information see the News section of the Angeles National Forest web site. For more information regarding the closure of Williamson Rock, see the Friends of Williamson Rock web site.

The post Wally Waldron Limber Pine includes links to a Google Earth image and Google Earth KMZ file of this route.

PLEASE NOTE: The condition of certain sections of the Manzanita and South Fork trails is marginal, and rock slides and washouts may block the trail.

Saturday, April 29, 2006 3:02:20 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #