Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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1/1/2015

New Year’s Day, 2015

Filed under: — stan @ 7:18 pm

Here we go again. We woke up on Thursday morning to bright sunshine and cold air. At least cold by our SoCal standards. It was 32 degrees, and that’s pretty cold for a Rose Parade. Of course, we never actually walk over to see the actual parade. We just go outside at 8:00 to watch the B-2 bomber fly over. Then we go back inside and make breakfast. A little later on, the horses from the parade all walk past our house, so that’s our little Rose Parade.

In the afternoon, we took a walk over to see the floats, since they’re parked right down the street. There was a float for the 442nd Infantry, which was the theme for one of our bike club rides a few years ago. Other than that, it was just a nice afternoon to walk around in the sunshine and look at the flowers. It made for a pleasant day.

11/23/2014

Update on the backyard boat

Filed under: — stan @ 1:15 pm

I’m still kind of tired and a little sore from yesterday’s hike up Cucamonga Peak, so today’s bike club ride is a relatively flat one, riding out to Sun Valley to get an update on the backyard boat.

It was kind of windy when we got out to The Valley. They were running Burbank Airport backwards, taking off to the north instead of the south, so that meant we had a headwind for the last part of the trip up Tujunga Blvd to Sun Valley. And when we got there, we were all a bit sad to see that the boat was still in the back yard. When we visited in May, Mr Griffith said that he thought it would be finished and launched by September of this year. But here it is November, and the boat is still on the rack in the back yard.

Heading back south into Burbank, we came to the weird five-way intersection on Whitnall. This is always a problem, since the detectors there never could pick up bikes, and there is no crosswalk, so there’s no button to push for a walk signal. But the city has installed a button for bikes to change the light. So that was nice.

Our snack stop was at Priscilla’s. And from there, we headed back across Glendale, and then up and over the Chevy Chase and Linda Vista hill to come out by the Rose Bowl. All in all, it was a nice ride.

46 miles.

11/22/2014

Cucamonga Peak

Filed under: — stan @ 10:38 pm

Last month, when we climbed Mt Baldy, Karina had mentioned that she thought that the hike up Cucamonga Peak was actually a bit harder than the Baldy hike. Given how hard Baldy is, I was a bit skeptical. Still, I’d always wanted to try Cucamonga Peak, since it’s one of the highest mountains in the front part of the San Gabriels.

We started up the trail at 9:23 in the morning. It was promising to be a nice day, although we thought that there might be a bit of snow up high, since it had rained a tiny bit a couple nights ago. Starting out up Ice House Canyon, we passed by several cabins, and several more ruins of former cabins. Judging by the size of the boulders in the canyon that had pretty obviously fallen from high up, it was not surprising to see that some of the cabins had been destroyed. As we got a little higher up the canyon, we could see that there was a thin layer of snow on the south wall of the canyon. The north wall was in sunlight, and the snow there had melted. There were just some small patches in the shade of trees or rocks.

At that point, the trail got steep, and we went up a series of big switchbacks to climb up out of the canyon. And then we came out in Ice house Saddle. At that point, there were trails going off in different directions to climb various nearby peaks. It was here that I realized how cold it really was, and I put on my sweatshirt and sweatpants.

The trail to Cucamonga Peak goes around the side of Bighorn Peak, and the first part of the trail is across the north side of the mountain. There was quite a bit of snow there. The side of the mountain there is very steep, and the trail is just a narrow path carved into the steep slope. With snow on it, it was really kind of scary. I got out both my poles to use for balance and stability.

As we came around to the saddle between Bighorn Peak and Cucamonga Peak, the snow went away, although the trail was still crossing some intimidatingly-steep slopes. When we got to the saddle, we stopped and had lunch. From the sounds we were hearing, it sounded like the wind was blowing pretty hard higher up, so we figured that it was probably better to stop in the relatively-sheltered saddle for lunch. While we were there, another group of three hikers passed us. We had passed them on the way up Ice House Canyon, so I said we should make it our goal to catch them before the summit.

Leaving the saddle, the trail started up some more steep switchbacks, including a couple of crossings across a big scree slope that kind of gave me the willies. Fortunately, it was on the west side of the peak, so there was no snow there. There was more snow farther up the trail, but the north-facing slopes there had a fair number of big trees on them, so it didn’t feel so exposed. We caught up with the other group just a short distance below the summit.

At the top, I made a point to climb up and stand on top of the highest rock, just, you know, because. We had a look at the view down into Cajon Pass, where we’d been on the office field trip last week. I was particularly impressed by how steep and rugged the south face of Etiwanda Peak was. After a few minutes, the other group came up to the summit, and we got them to take our souvenir picture with the view. I also gave them some of my water, since I wasn’t going to use all that I’d brought along.

When we started back down, we made much better time than on the way up. It first, I thought we’d make it back before sundown, but we really missed that extra hour of sunlight that we had for Baldy last month. And sunset came when we were still about a mile from the end. At that point, i was glad that I’d thought to put a flashlight in my pack. It wasn’t a particularly bright one, but it helped. And we made it back to the end. On the way home, we wondered what had become of the group we’d seen at the top, since we didn’t see them at all on the way down, so they must have come down much later than us. Anyway, it was a fun hike, and yes, I agree now that it’s harder than Mt Baldy. I also think that a hike this long was perhaps a bit over-ambitious for this time of year. We really didn’t like walking that last mile in the dark. Still, it was a good time.

10/11/2014

A lot of Nowhere

Filed under: — stan @ 6:49 pm

Last year, I finally got to do the hike to “The Bridge to Nowhere”. And today I got to do it again. The main difference this time is that it was a Saturday, rather than a Friday, and there was no government shutdown in effect. Last year when we did this, the place was deserted. We saw just a handful of people on the trail. But today, when we got to the trailhead, we had to park about a quarter-mile back down the road, since the little parking lot was completely full.

I’d gone up there with my hiking friend Kathy, and we were going to meet up with my stair-climbing friend Crystal and her boyfriend Barry. When I saw all the cars there, I thought it was going to be hard to find them. But when we parked, it turned out they were in the car right in front of us. That was convenient.

We started out down the trail. The first time, I didn’t really know what to expect, so it was easier this time. I knew the basic pattern for following and finding the trail, and we made good time. It only took us a little over two hours to make it to the Bridge. When we got there, the bungee-jumping people were out in force. It was a far cry from the deserted bridge I remember from last year. We crossed, and then followed the trail down into the gorge below the bridge so we could watch the bungee jumpers. Here’s a sample:

We had lunch down there in the gorge, and then we headed back. The hike back went pretty fast. It was a perfect day, and all around, it was a fun time.

9/20/2014

Mt Lukens

Filed under: — stan @ 3:20 pm

Mt Lukens is the highest point within the city limits of Los Angeles, and as such, it’s home to a lot of communications equipment for the Department of Water and Power, and other things like that. Since the seismic network uses some of the DWP network, we have a microwave link up there from the Seismo Lab. So I was curious to see it. I read a post on a hiking blog about climbing this mountain, and it sounded like a fun hike.

Karina is training for the New York Marathon, so she was busy going running, so Kathy and I did the hike. We started out from Deukmejian Wilderness Park in Glendale. The trail started out up the wash in the park, but quickly turned right and went up a steep ridge. The first couple miles were very steep, and pretty soon we were above the clouds. It was kind of gray and overcast down below, but it was a perfect day up on the mountain.

At the top of the ridge, the trail turned into a fire road for a bit along the top of the ridge before we met up with the Mt Lukens road. From there, it was an easy mile or so up the road to the top. At the top, we spent a few minutes looking at the view. To the south, it was just clouds, with some other mountains poking up through them, and to the north it was clear.

Going down, we took the Rim of the Valley trail, which came down a different ridge a bit west of the ridge we’d hiked up. The only really tricky part of the trip down was finding the turnoff, since the main trail goes down to Haines Canyon, and we needed to take the cutoff trail to get back to Deukmejian Park. The saving grace of the southern California mountains is that there are basically no trees, so it’s easy to see the different trails and where they go. So we turned off and headed down toward the park.

At one point, the trail went down into a canyon where there was actually a small stream. It was just a trickle, but it was actual running water. And there were big trees growing at the bottom of the canyon. From there, we had to climb up and out to get over the next ridge, and then we could see where we’d started. The last part of the route was an easy walk back down Dunsmore Canyon to where we started. In the end, it was nearly 10 miles in all, but it was a nice day, so it was a good time.

Here’s the route map: http://www.1134.org/routemap.php?xmlfile=mtlukenshike

8/24/2014

A bit of aerospace history in Burbank

Filed under: — stan @ 12:41 pm

Today’s bike club ride was a trip to Burbank to see a bit of aerospace history. The site of the former Loughead -er- Lockheed plant, next to Burbank Airport, and also to see the F-104 on display in George Izay Park in Burbank. The F-104 was one of many innovative airplanes that came out of the Lockheed Skunk Works.

We rode out across Eagle Rock and Glendale to get to Burbank. I stopped for a quick photo-op with a topiary along Victory Blvd. And then we took a left on Olive Ave to get to the park, and the photo-op with the F-104-on-a-stick. Everything is more fun if it’s on a stick, I think. From there, we headed north, and we took a short side trip to see the big desert tortoises again. They were pretty active today, and we even saw some of them sparring. Apparently, they do that by drawing their head back into their shell, and then ramming the front of the shell into another tortoise. It made an odd clacking sound. We don’t know why they do that, but it probably has something to do with mating.

From there, we continued on to Burbank Airport. The old topiary has been replaced with a new one. We’ve been to see it before, but the last time we saw it, it was looking pretty bad. So they’ve replaced it with a new one. And we took a moment to look around. All the parking areas at the airport, as well as the Fry’s across the railroad tracks, and the lots on the other side of Hollywood Way all used to be the Lockheed plant. And it’s all gone now. All that’s left is the credit union. And I’ll put in a plug for them here. I’ve been banking there for almost seven years now, and it’s great. Great service, great rates, and I recommend them highly.

We stopped to peek in a the kiddy-ride boneyard on Clybourn Ave. We all thought it would be the perfect setting for the climactic scene of a mad-killer-clown horror movie. Then we headed down to Priscilla’s for snacks.

On the way home, we went through Highland Park. That was where we saw the house with the Transformers in the front yard. That was odd, but a good photo-op. All together, it was a fun ride, with lots of odd sights.

45 miles.

7/27/2014

The George Harrison Stump

Filed under: — stan @ 1:50 pm

This week, there was an item all over the news about how the George Harrison Memorial Tree in Griffith Park had been killed by an infestation of beetles. So of course we had to go see this.

It was an overcast day, which was nice, since that meant it probably wouldn’t get too hot. We rode out by our standard route to get to Hollywood and Griffith Park. Then we rode up the hill to the observatory. Once we got there, we took a short rest, and then I started looking for the stump of the tree. It was at the far end of the parking lot, right by the start of the short trail up to the top of Mt Hollywood. In all the times we’ve been up there, I’d never noticed it before. But it was in a separate planter, with a plaque on a rock marking it. So it’s kind of sad, but also kind of funny.

Continuing on, we rode up Mt Hollywood Dr. We passed the spot where the sightseeing shuttle bus brings people for a sideways view of the Hollywood sign. Then, we rode down the other side, into Burbank. We stopped for snacks at Priscilla’s, and then we headed home by way of the L.A. River bike path, and then up Figueroa St. In Highland Park, it actually started raining a bit. That was odd, considering the season, but it wasn’t enough to require us implementing our exit strategy. So overall, it was a nice ride.

47 miles.

7/6/2014

Glendora Mountain for the 4th of July

Filed under: — stan @ 1:21 pm

It’s become traditional that they close Glendora Mountain Road for the 4th of July weekend. I guess that’s to keep people from driving up there and setting the mountain on fire with fireworks. But in any event, it makes for a nice place for bike riding on that weekend. So we were going to take advantage of it.

We rode out the Glendora and headed up the road. At the gate, we just lifted our bikes over and started up the hill. The ‘hill’ in this case is about 8-9 miles of about a 5% grade. Not terrible, but enough that we gain a lot of elevation by the time we reach the top. It was pretty hot today, and for the first time in a long time, I ran out of water. Fortunately, Pat knew where there was a park with a drinking fountain at the bottom of the hill. So we all stopped there and refilled our bottles before heading home.

It was a nice ride, and we weren’t the only ones taking advantage of it. We met one guy on the road who had ridden his bike from Huntington Beach just to ride the mountain while the road was closed.

55 miles.

6/29/2014

Another San Fernando Earthquake tour

Filed under: — stan @ 1:59 pm

Today’s bike club ride was a tour to see some sights related to the 1971 San Fernando Earthquake. It’s a slightly longer ride than usual, but that’s all right since it’s the last Sunday of the month. And we had a nice treat today, with Vikki joining us for the first time in a long time. After all these years, she’s back working in the earthquake business, so she wanted to come on the earthquake-themed ride.

We headed out across Eagle Rock and Glendale, and up through Burbank. Basically, we got on Glenoaks and just kept on going. We rode through the auto-wrecking ghetto of Sun Valley, all the way to San Fernando, and the McDonald’s there. There is a little hill in between the drive-through lane and the parking lot. That little hill was part of the mapped surface rupture from the 1971 earthquake. When they built the McDonald’s, they just smoothed it over and planted grass on it. It’s one of the nicer-landscaped fault scarps around.

Just beyond the McDonald’s, we turned and headed toward the mountains. The old VA hospital was essentially destroyed by the 1971 earthquake, and it was never rebuilt. The functions done there were all moved to the newer facility in Mission Hills. That’s the place we visited last year, since one of the buildings there was used to play the American Embassy in Tehran in the movie “Argo“. And the old VA hospital grounds in San Fernando were turned into a county park. It’s a pretty big and very attractive park, and there’s really no sign of what used to be there.

Coming back, we headed back down Glenoaks, and then turned up La Tuna Canyon. As always, the five-mile uphill ride was a joy. Sort of. Still, it was a fun ride, and I’ve finally seen where the old VA Hospital was.

56 miles.

6/12/2014

Another field trip

Filed under: — stan @ 9:49 pm

This week, an email was sent to everyone in my office, inviting us to come and see the trenches that Kate Scharer has been working in on the San Andreas Fault. The location was near Lake Elizabeth, a bit north of Los Angeles. This is the southern end of the Carrizo Plain segment of the fault. So a group of us made arrangements to go up there for the morning.

The route up there went up San Francisquito Canyon. That was the site of the Bouquet Canyon Road Race in 1978, which I’ve long regarded as the single most miserable day I’ve ever spent on my bike. And it was also the site of the St Francis Dam disaster, which is an interesting bit of local history.

It was a nice day, but kind of windy up there on the fault line. Kate had her dogs with her, and they were running around, trying to get us to play with them. That, and they also like to go down into the trench to lie down on the cool dirt at the bottom. Kate took us on a tour of both trenches, pointing out the layers and where they were broken by past earthquakes. She showed us where the breaks could be traced from one trench to another. She also pointed out ancient animal burrows and worm holes.

After the trench tour, we took a walk up to the top of a small rise near the trench site. From there, we could take in a full 180-degree view of the fault zone.

On the way home, we stopped briefly at the site of the former St Francis dam, just to marvel at how big is was, and to try and imagine what it was like when it all came crashing down.

It made for an interesting morning.

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