The trail up Colby Canyon to Strawberry Peak was the first hike I ever did in the San Gabriels, back in 1983. I’ve been back a couple of times since then, most recently in 2007, when we didn’t make the summit because we had Lucinda with us, and she was only 8 years old at the time. Since then, Colby Canyon was within the burn area of the 2009 Station Fire, and the trail has been closed until just recently. So I wanted to try it again.
The trail up the canyon is fairly steep, but it was easy to follow. It looked as if some maintenance had been done on it recently. The canyon itself looked quite a bit worse for wear. Places that used to be groves of big trees were bare, with just a few blackened stumps. But it was a pleasant hike up to the saddle between Strawberry and Josephine Peak.
The trail from the saddle up to the peak basically follows the top of the ridge, and there are two short sections where it is necessary to scramble up the rocks. This was what I’d always liked about this mountain, since it made it more interesting. Also, it reminded me of when I was a kid and we climbed Mt Washington in New Hampshire by the Huntington Ravine Trail. When we got to the first rock section, I had a look to pick a route, and I started up, with Karina just a bit behind me. We got about 2/3 of the way up the section when she decided that she was not going to do this. She just sat down on a rock and wouldn’t move. There was another group coming up behind us, so I suggested we see how they went up. The leader, Bob, came up to where we were, and the rest of his group looked at the rocks and said they weren’t going to do this, either. At that point, Bob volunteered to help guide Karina back down. He went down ahead of her and guided her feet to the footholds and generally tried to keep her calm. We made it back down off the rocks, and we walked back to the saddle. We had lunch there, and then we headed back down. Even though we didn’t make the summit, it was still a good hike and a pleasant day to be outside.