After leaving Hwy 2, the road is a combination of torn up pavement and dirt. There were some rough spots, but I had no problem with my 2 WD Toyota. The road was in a little better condition last year when I scouted out the area. The road goes through the Mt High ski runs and it is a fun drive. Arriving at Guffy Campground six miles later, the fire gate was closed. I had not planned on that as I had driven to the trail head last year. I parked on the road to Guffy about 100 yards from the fire gate.
While walking on the dirt road (3N06) from the gate, I had a good look at Pine Mtn
The locked gate was going to add two miles each way. Fortunately, the temperature was in the upper 60's and it was a nice morning for a hike. It took me 41 minutes to get to the trail head at 34° 19.754'N 117° 38.186'W. Now the fun begins. The trail drops and then follows the ridge to Pine Mtn, 1.28 miles away. It was a steep trail, with loose gravel/rocks in places. I am glad I did not take Roxy, as it would have been a difficult and dangerous hike for her. Both sides of the ridge have steep slopes.
Walking the ridge, you can see the trail conditions and the steep slopes off of the trail. I told myself when I get proficient with CW (which will be a while), I am going to buy a KX3. I kept thinking how nice it would have been to already have that radio, as the weight is more than half the weight of my 857! I better practice more so I can get that radio!
It was nice to get off the ridge and hike the steep trail in the trees.
At the summit, I took a break and enjoyed a cold "Powerade". I found a downed log in the shade to set up my station. Temperature was in the low 70's. I had a contact with K6TUY on 40m, who said it was already very hot at the base of the San Gabriels. I was able to spot via APRS. I found out I had phone reception when I had a call from my son during the activation. I was also able to spot via SMS.
I spent some time walking around the summit as I heard there was a "fort" up here. I couldn't find it. I did find the geocache, the summit log, and some cool chairs built out of rocks.
As the temperatures began to rise, it was time to pack up and start the tough hike back. It was tough going down the steep ridge. I am glad I had my hiking poles, as it would have been extremely difficult without them. While walking the dirt road on the final stretch, I saw some movement in front of me. It was a rattlesnake slithering across the road. I stopped in my tracks, as I don't like rattlesnakes and was thankful Roxy was not with me as when I spotted the snake, it was about the same distance she walks in front of me. As the snake went up the hill, I remembered I had a camera and snapped a shot. I was going to wait until he got farther up the hill before I passed, but he began to turn back towards the road. He was not happy when I decided to pass, giving out a loud rattle as his head went back and he began to coil.
As I was nearly back to the gate, I looked to my left and noticed a small fire, which I later learned was near Hwy 39. As I approached the gate, I noticed that the gate was now open. Bummer! Next time I will call the ranger station and find out what time they open the gate. I brought three pints of water and a power aide and drank them all. Not sure of the temperature, but it was hot when I got back to the truck. I also saw a glider fly overhead while on the dirt road.
There were some nice views of surrounding mountains from the summit.
As a PAPA member, I was able to hit the club repeaters on Mt Wilson (PAPA 8) and Blue Ridge (PAPA 14). It is nice to know in the event of an emergency, I can hit one of the repeaters from most summits in the San Gabriels. While hiking up, I had conversations with fellow PAPA members and SOTA activators/chasers, Bob KB6CIO and Scott WA9STI. Scott gave an outstanding SOTA presentation at last weeks PAPA breakfast. It also inspired me to write a hiking plan that I left at the house should something happen on the hike. PAPA 8 on Mt Wilson and PAPA 14 on Blue Ridge.
I brought three liters of water and 1 quart of Powerade, drinking all of them. I ran out of water just as I was approaching the gate on the return trip, a short distance from the truck, where I had more water. Had I known the gate would be closed, I would have brought more water. All in all, this was an awesome hike with plenty of solitude and great views. I recommend doing this hike in cool weather, have hiking/trekking poles, be in moderate shape, contact the ranger station to check on status of gate closure, and bring plenty of water.
While driving home, I decided to take a chance and drive the 2, hoping it wouldn't be closed due to the fire. The other option would have been taking the 138 through Wrightwood to the 15 south. A half hour of driving on the 2, I noticed that the fire had grown.
I made the following contacts:
2m - N6MIK, NA6MG (I could hear Charles, KM6CEM, but he couldn't hear me. I spent about 20 minutes walking around the summit trying to contact him. He is getting close to that 1000 point mark for chasing!)
10m - NK6A, KB6CIO
20m - AA7DK, K8TE, AE5B, W4DOW, VA7VJ, NS7P, K4JQV, W7RV, KD0MQV
40m - K6TUY
Thank you Chasers!!!!!