Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Echo Mountain 2 aka "Station Fire, You Bastard"

Hike: Echo Mountain - Mt. Lowe Railway (sort of)
The Inspiration: Kolby's 100th Hike
Highest Altitude: 3207'
Trip Mileage: 8
Total 2010 Mileage: 14

As I mentioned a few posts back, I thoroughly enjoyed my maiden trudge up Echo Mountain as part of The Hike Guy Kolby Kirk's celebratory 100th hike. In fact, I enjoyed the peak-top views and resulting thigh-burn so very much that I suggested to Rebecca that Team WWED? recreate the jaunt in timely fashion.

The trail was a bit more steep and sweat-inducing than I recalled from that misty evening, and the amount of masochists running nonchalantly up the side of the mountain did nothing to quell my sense of inadequacy, but 1400' and a bazillion lazy switchbacks later, we stood atop Echo Mountain, drinking in a pretty large swath of greater Los Angeles...with a pretty large cross-section of Angelenos.

"This would be a great place to come at night and set up a picnic blanket with some dinner," Rebecca suggested.

"Yes, if we could push all of these people off of the mountain first," I thought.
And "Yep," I replied.

As Rebecca traipsed off to explore the ruins, I settled in with a mound of satsumas and considered an option to extend the hike - we could make our way down into the canyon, back up some 1300', catch a loftier view at Inspiration Point - then backtrack down and up and down and up and down and up and down until we returned to my car, parked halfway down Lake Avenue thanks to the glut of drivers parked on the mountain.

So, no. We didn't do that. Instead, we decided to saunter down the Middle Sam Merrill Trail for a bit, then return the way we came. Except that when we got to the trailhead, the trail was closed by the park service or someone important like that, so said the sign on the brown stick.

I looked at Rebecca. There were people up higher on the very trail we hoped to hike. Hm.

"It says 'RESPECT' on the sign," said Rebecca.
"Yeah. You know what - I think we should RESPECT it," said I.
So we did.

You know why? Because:

A) It said so.
B) We could see signs of the Station Fire damage just west of Inspiration Point, no doubt imperiling the Sam Merrill Trail as it climbed higher...and if there's one thing we don't want, it's anything even vaguely resembling the Tom Sloan Hell-Trail Experience of 2009.
C) Because it's what Ed would do, dammit.

Proud of our increased capacity for rational thought, we retraced our steps and decided instead to tack on some of the Mt. Lowe Railway Trail...

...Until it, too, was thwarted by a brown RESPECT stick.

This time, though, the reason for the RESPECT stick was obvious - everywhere to the North and West of the damn stick was toast.

Station Fire toast.

It was oddly beautiful, though - every nook and cranny of the mountains exposed, chaparral-free, cast in an eerie greyish hue. I was awestruck, standing on the Sunset Ridge fire road, snapping photos with my phone, when Rebecca pointed out that the fire stopped right at the edge of the road. When I looked up, I noticed the tree you saw in the photo at the top of this post - 2/3 burned, 1/3 bright green.

That tree gave me hope - these mountains and trails are a tenacious bunch, and spring is sure to bring lots of surprises.

Until then, please RESPECT the brown sticks, yo'.
Ed wouldn't have it any other way - and neither would we.

What Would Ed Do?
For once, Ed would have done what we did. For once!


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