This week I got it right. Last week I became confused, parked in the wrong lot and hiked the wrong road – Fire Road 2N79 to be precise. This week I found the trailhead and managed to stay on the right trail. While last week was a dirt road, this week was all trail and it was quite lovely. This is one of those upside down hikes. After an initial 1/2 mile climb, it’s all downhill for about another three miles until the trail reaches flat ground. Then it’s another 3/4 of a mile or so to Stonyvale Picnic Area, my turnaround point. The trail was wonderfully deserted. I only spoke to one person all day and that was a biker I met at the picnic area. I had a great time.
I parked at the trailhead off of the Angeles Crest Highway. I’d like to make an important point here because this is one of the things that really screwed me up last week. In one of my hiking guides and another online review, the directions given to this spot say to drive 6.1 miles up CA-2 (Angeles Crest Highway) from the 210 Freeway and park opposite mile marker 30.02. This is NOT correct. As I did last week, I zeroed out my trip meter on my car as I turned onto CA-2 and arrived at this spot and mile marker 30.02 in 5.5 miles. I continued on to the trailhead where I parked last week and, surprise surprise, it clocked in at 6.1 miles. So remember, it’s 5.5 miles, not 6.1.
Is there anything better than enjoying the colors of a Sunrise? Too bad so many people sleep through it.
Soon I reached the highest point and the multi-trail junction I came to last week. This time I took the trail marked by a small pile of rocks, not the road which breaks off to the left and right. The sign shown in this photo cannot be seen from the junction, but if one travels just a few yards on the trail it will appear. When you see the sign for 2N80A, you will know you are on the right path for Grizzly Flat. It’s almost all downhill from here (except for the hike back which is almost all uphill).
Photo 1 – Shotgun shell by the side of the trail. I heard occasional gunfire coming from somewhere close by. Photo 2 – It seems as though springtime has come early. The trail was dotted with colorful, blooming flowers. Photo 3 – This tree was not easy to get around. I had to remove my pack and do a full squat to squeeze past.
Grizzly Flat was not my turnaround point, and only about half way to it. I hiked through the grounds and continued downward. The trail would get a little rougher and a little steeper from here, and poison oak was more prevalent. Photo 3 – I crossed over a little creek very near to Grizzly Flat. Could this be Vasquez Creek?
Sometimes the views would open up. Looking at my map, I assume one of these peaks is Fox Peak and/or Condor Peak.
Photo 2 – The trail got really rocky for awhile. Photo 3 – From above it looked the trail would soon end after I reached the flat, dry creek bed below, but in truth I still had a ways to go. Photo 4 – There wasn’t much of a trail here and I wasn’t sure which way to go. I followed the footprints in the sand and occasionally a piece of yellow tape would pop up. My advice, just walk straight toward the trees.
Just because I was on flat ground didn’t mean the hiking would get easier. Next up were six water crossings, some more difficult than others.
I think I once read that this plant with yellow fluted flowers is a variety of wild tobacco. Photo 2 is not very clear – it’s a shot of a broken branch, and the drying leaves do indeed look like drying tobacco.
I reached the very quiet Stonyvale Picnic Area. There are several picnic tables, lots of parking and a restroom. After exploring for awhile I parked myself at the far end of the lot at an isolated picnic table under a tree.
On my way back now, I passed a beautiful mallard swimming against the current.
Reaching for the Sun