Friday, January 6, 2012

San Gabriel Mountains

Yesterday we hit a record high of 86 degrees here in Los Angeles. The weather stations here call that a "heat wave".  It did not bother John and I because were up in the mountains northeast of the city.
The ski areas were not in operation; there was snow on the ground but not enough for skiing. Ordinarily most of the roads up the mountain would be closed this time of the year. But only after we passed the 5,000 elevation mark did we get stopped by a gate across the road. We pulled off the road there and found a hiking trail. A sign at the beginning of the trail noted that we were in the Pleasant View Ridge Wilderness. The trail was a bit treacherous because of snow and ice on it. We had to be careful in those areas because one slip could easily send us tumbling down the mountainside. Despite that, it was a beautiful walk.
Trail signs warned us of black bear in the area. We did not see them but did see a black chipmunk and a western gray squirrel. I did some research after we got home and there actually is a black chipmunk. According to Ken Burton, a wild life expert, they can be seen "with some frequency but are not common". The gray squirrel has a very long and bushy tail (that tail especially caught my attention). My research on that critter indicated that those squirrels can be found in forests on elevations of 2,000 feet or above. Another animal in the area is bighorn sheep, which we also saw. We were just returning to our car when I glanced up the rocky slope across from the parking lot and espied some movement. Soon about seven sheep came into full view. Unfortunately they were too far up for me to get a picture of them. It was sunset about the time we headed down the mountain. Still John wanted to take a short side trip up Mount Wilson because he had heard about an observatory there. After driving up a very steep winding road to get there it was closed. It was still worth the trip to look down at Los Angeles from that mountain top.

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