Sunday Hike

We are going to Switzerland this summer, so it is really important to get into shape. Luckily we have mountains here to practice on.It was time for a hike up  to the Griffith Park Observatory. Last time I was there it was covered by a cloud. On this gorgeous spring day, many others were hiking up the mountain with us. We started in Fern Dell park, a park that was created back in the 1930’s. In those days it was very popular to make concrete look like wood. So all the railing look like this.Since you can’t touch, here is photographic proof. Re-bar in the middle of what is now a broken log.We started climbing, not only are wildflowers out, the rain has done other damage as well. Look at this rut!The views along the way are spectacular- even through the haze downtown is impressive.The Hollywood sign is always fun to see.The closer we got, we could see a lot of people walking around the building.I feel sorry for people with allergies, this year is especially hard. I have no idea what kind of tree this is, but it sure is pretty.We weren’t the only ones making our way up here. I’m impressed that the dog runs along side the horses. At this point, they are trying to figure out where to park them so they could go inside. Here is the front view, somewhere there is a plaque in honor of James Dean from Rebel Without a Cause, that was filmed right here, shortly after this building was built.Art Deco details that sparkle in the light.Then it was down through Fern Dell park. A tropical slice of heaven in the middle of the city. Joel, the LA native had never been here before. I love introducing him to his city.Can you see the steam coming off the bubbles? My guess is – it’s like the La Brea Tar pits, primordial ooze.A tree fell, was it this winter? Or much earlier and it just hasn’t been cleared out?Once Iencounteredd one Staghorn fern, it appears that they show up everywhere.As is our tradition, finish off a hike with tacos. These are fish tacos from Ensenada Fish Tacos on Hillhurst. Not as fancy as ‘Home’ that had a line down the sidewalk waiting for brunch. We’re sticking with our tradtion of some kind of local taco place.





Spring is very short but colorful here in So Cal. Our dull iceplant becomes a carpet of bright magenta.Trees burst into glorious blooms.

Our state flower, the California poppy makes an appearance. This year, in certain locations, hillsides are carpeted with orange.  It is time to go out and enjoy nature.We drove 30 miles from home up into the Angeles National forest. A lot more green this year. The haze is hanging over the basin. You have to strain to see the tall buildings of downtown Los Angeles with the Palo Verdes peninsula beyond. Wildflowers are beginning to bloom. The yellow out in the mountains is very different from the city trees. The redno California poppies here. I may yet have to drive up to Lancaster to see the reserve. My friend went to Lake Elsinore and took incredible pictures.The red is visible, yet small.Remnants of the Station Fire from a few years ago. It started right near here.And yet, some trees appear to be completely burnt and they have found a way to produce green leaves again. Fire is fickle. Many trees didn’t fair this well, and they are gone.Enter Tree People, an organization that is right up the road from me. They supply baby pines to volunteers to plant. In conjunction with other conservation groups they go out in the spring to plant new trees in the burn areas.Here is one such fellow. It is supposed to rain later this week and they may come back with a water truck once or twice this summer in order to give these saplings a fighting chance to survive until next winter.

Although we were out in nature, the Motorcyclists love the Angeles Crest highway, we heard and saw a lot of them. As well as plenty of planes leaving contrails in the sky.Man and nature, side by side. It is wonderful to get out and enjoy both.Our tradition after a hike is to find a local Taco joint and eat without any guilt. This is at Epic Taco Shop in Montrose. And yes, they were epic.



The sun always shines in LA, even when it doesn’t. We got some rain this weekend. I have a theory that California goes through its cycles, drought, fire, rain and then mudslides.  This summer the fires were horrendous. So now we are seeing rain.

p1170365Which means our landscapes change drastically with clouds.

p1170364Taking a walk in Griffith Park yields wonderful vistas.

p1170369I guess the water tanks get named by the closest landmark. We parked our car at Travel Town. Because we didn’t have grandkids with us, it was a hike up the hill rather than visit the trains.

p1170368Looking down into the valley towards Forrest Lawn cemetery. Cemeteries end up being such beautiful, pastoral places. That Church could be in New England.  What is interesting here is that the mosaic wall in the foreground is part of Mt. Sinai Memorial Park, the Jewish cemetery.

p1170366In Griffith Park, the walkers share the paths with horses and the roads with bicycles.

p1170374She posed! Her rider said that she saw my camera and posed. What a beautiful horse!

p1170370I love the fact that someone came out and decorated the tree.

p1170371An elf instead of an angel.

p1170373Sadly many of the bows were already knocked down to the ground.

p1170375Joel was wondering why I was taking pictures of the trunk of a tree. Look at this! Even the smallest, mondane parts of nature are beautiful!




A walk around Lake Balboa in the valley is a mini bird viewing tour. The lake is a manmade one, really manmade, the water isn’t diverted from elsewhere. It is reclaimed water from the Tillman reclamation plant. One of these days people will recognize that this water is pure enough for our faucets. Until then, we have a lovely park with a lake, and much more water flowing down the LA river.p1170112Water brings water birds, like your standard teal duck. There are also geese, domesticated and a few Canada geese who are probably never going home.

p1170115The ducks enjoy floating on the water and eating fish and grubs. The lake is stocked with fish and many a fisherman enjoy a lazy afternoon along side the lake.p1170101The cormorant isn’t as buoyant as the ducks, most of its’ body is underwater.

p1170120Which is why it needs to spread it’s wings to both dry off and cool down.

p1170106Speaking of ducks, here is an unusual fellow, nice tuft on his head. There were a number of these ducks, so it must be some sort of breed.

p1170097Not sure what this fellow is.

p1170093This egret sure can twist his neck!p1170094In any city park you will find squirrels, especially if someone is feeding them.

p1170116You looking at me?

p1170117Yes I am, do you have a problem with that?

p1170109Me! Me! Look at me! Ok, the common pidgeon is a bird too, I guess he deserves a spot in this post as well.


Thoughts on Pokemon go

When the weather turns cold what will happen to Pokemon?

Other than that, I have many friends who are enjoying running around with this app.  What it did for me, was get me to contact a friend I hadn’t heard from in a year. My suggestion – let’s go geocaching!P1150773Elin wrote a book on Geocaching, so she knows how it’s done. So we met up with another cacher and went hunting.P1150774This was part of a pair of boxes, finding them wasn’t hard, finding the clues to open and then synchronize the little electronic displays inside – that took some talent.P1150775And here we are! The prize!P1150776This was a short one. Not enough exercise for a lovely Saturday. So on we went on a hike.P1150778I captured one moment of quiet on the trail, there were hikers, bikers, and walkers. In SoCal, people are out and about all the time. P1150777With things to see, and time to spend talking with a friend.

I make a point of getting out and about and I’m looking at my surrounding.P1150640There is a place called the museum of the San Fernando Valley, I finally went there. Meh, I can see how the Valley is beginning to come into its own and I wish them success, but nothing about this organization made me want to get involved.

They are highlighting local artists and of course talk about all the stars that live here. The horse is a failed attempt at getting them out to the public. This one was meant for North Hollywood. I understand that in the past ranching was a thing, but horses are not what I think of when I think of the Valley, maybe a porn star?P1150643There are things that are worth stopping for, like this wonderful sign. I think I’m just souring on the concept of many museums. Sure there is great art that is worthy of being shared. But these days, everyone has a museum, and by calling it that – they feel they have elevated what’s inside when in many cases they have simply diminished what a museum is all about. P1150645Maybe this sign says more about the Valley than anything else.  Of course, I’d like to see all these groups joining together for one service in one common language, English. But maybe they do for social events and people are comfortable with religion in their own language.

Back to Pokemon, I hear from friends as they are out and about that they do look up at their surrounding and are often surprised by what they see.  I spent the day with an old friend, but people playing Pokemon are out meeting and talking to new people – and that is a very good thing.


Weekend hike

Spring is here, everyone is out hiking. We were supposed to meet up with a group at Chantry Flats. Us and everybody else, there is hardly any parking, we forgot to get the day parking pass, it was going to be a nightmare. So this being the San Gabriel mountains, we found another simple hike nearby.  Bailey Canyon in Sierra Madre.

P1140107Studying the mapP1140109After the rains there is so much green, we love it! Even if there isn’t water in the creek.P1140114

At the start of the hike we found this.P1140110I have been warned about poison oak many times. It was good to see the real thing so I know what to avoid. Never saw any more on the trail, this is a very well maintained hike, so they are probably removing it from the trail areas.P1140112This very green meadow will soon be brown. Plants react to the rain and burst forward when they have a chance.

It was very foggy and hazey, so I didn’t take panoramic vista photos, but it is spring and everything is blooming.
P1140113Another thing I don’t touch is mushrooms, some are edible and some deadly poisonous, no idea which is which.

Being that this is the San Gabriels, the hike is straight up the mountain, sure switch backs, but this is uphill hiking.P1140111Some of the flowers along the way.P1140118None of these are very big, my photos are deceiving. P1140125P1140120These two examples are tiny, I’d say the flowers are smaller than a dime, but oh so pretty!P1140116I’m guessing that in a month or two this will burst open and spread more seeds.P1140121My telephoto was at maximum. Looking back down at this bench.P1140126Of course on our way back we had to stop here and rest.   As we reached the bottom the whole Sierra Madre search and rescue team were out, someone got stuck somewhere near the waterfall, so we didn’t go explore there. They said it wasn’t a bad situation, but every rescue is a learning one, so they were way over manned.

We usually stop somewhere for lunch. This time we were very lucky, we have very good friends who live right near the Search and Rescue headquarters and that is where we headed for a lovely lunch as well as an enjoyable time with friends. They had an oriole visit as well as other colorful birds. They showed up video of their friendly fox and bears.  We just get possums, raccoons and coyote.P1130900Meanwhile back at home, this little lady built a nest over our patio. Notice how tiny it is, it is hanging on the fairy lights. Also notice how dark her beak is.PicMonkey CollageA few days ago I noticed this, two beaks and they are orange tipped with black! The babies were born!P1140129Here they are, peaking out, waiting for mama to feed them. Of course now I am watching them daily!


The Mount Lowe Railway

P1120226We arrived! This was the end of the line for the funicular portion of the Mt. Lowe Railway. This incredible feat of engineering ran from 1893 to 1938. It was a must see and must travel destination in Southern California. Very little remains today, and what does was brought back by the Mount Lowe Preservation Society.Mount Lowe Railway Like this massive Wheel that pulled the funicular cars up and down the very steep hill.P1120223That is the haulage cable, and you wonder why I can’t get enough of this man made steel.P1120225A thing of beauty.P1120216From here, a conventional railway continued up to the summit of Mount Lowe.Mount Lowe Railway

Ascending 3250 ft, at some points as steep as 62 grade. In contrast Angels Flight which only has a 33 percent grade and is only 315 ft. long.P1120228The top of the tramway, from here one would switch to an electric cable car.  Notice how there is a sudden drop off?P1120233Looking down at the concrete pilings that held the funicular tracks.ML123An old photo of the funicular  arriving at Echo Mountain House, a 70 room hotel.  No way could anyone build this today,  those men just standing on the front of the car with no security measures?!?!  Those were very different times.mountlowe-collection-postcards-circularbridge-5-900x510Another very famous image, after leaving the hotel, an electric car took you to the top of Mount Lowe. And no, I wasn’t going to hike another 5 miles up there.P1120236Very little remains of the hotel today. Weather, flooding and a drop in profitability closed down the railway in 1938.  Some of it was salvaged and sold, some simply stolen by scavengers.  Unfortunately the Forrest service finds old structures to be a nuisance. They have no sense of history and whenever possible they simply destroy standing structures.  My guess is they fear law suits. So very little remains of the hotel, just the foundations. Notice the large circular structure?P1120238That was a natural gas tank, when the hotel was built, the gas was used for everything. A short while later an electric line connected the hotel to Alta Dena bellow. I’m glad that the preservation society is keeping on top of the graffiti. Have I said how much I hate graffiti?!  No one has the right to desecrate either public or private property. Either buy a building, or work on a canvas – I don’t care that the tagger calls it ‘art’ – it isn’t.P1120231Luckily some structures are too difficult to remove, here is the stairway from the station up into the hotel.Wall, all thats left of the Echo Mountain Hotel, CaliforniaA beautiful stone wall. Kudos to all the workmen who hauled up the materials and built these walls and the buildings that no longer exist.P1120240How cool is this, we are on Echo Mountain after all, the preservation society has reinstalled one of these echo phone (love the name). There may have been more to it in the old days, I tried and I heard no echo, maybe I can blame it on the fog.


Hiking Echo Mountain

The weather finally turned cool and it was feasible to go for a hike. I can’t get over the fact that within 30 minutes of us there are so many incredible hiking trails.  On weekends these trails are full of fellow hikers, some people like to get away from the crowds, I’m just happy to see so many other Los Angelenos out enjoying our mountains.P1120199The San Gabriel mountains were shrouded in clouds, so much so, this almost doesn’t look like Southern California.P1120200A two and a half mile climb starts with a nice flat road and big flowering bushes.P1120201Starting the climb and looking back at some alternative paths below.P1120202A California Live Oak with bare roots next to the path.P1120206I’m no geologist, but these layers of rock fascinate me. What gives the pink one it’s color? How did that strip of white get trapped there? P1120203The views are supposed to be spectacular. We had cloud cover the whole way, yes it really was that grey. So the commercial area of La Canada stands out, but it wasn’t worth taking pictures of haze. P1120205Unless one walks right under the tower that holds the power lines and the top is disappearing into the fog.P1120208 Or a hawk appears to be just a silhouette against the nothingness.P1120243Soon we were above the power lines but still only about half way up the mountain.P1120209P1120210I even remembered to hand Joel the camera so he could get a picture of me.
P1120212We made it to the top!

P1120220People enjoying a picnic.  I thought I was focusing on the people, my camera thought otherwise.

A five mile hike is plenty for me. I’m impressed with those who walk the whole 12 miles up to Mt. Lowe and back. But this is where we turned back. Of course there are some wonderful things up at this level, but that will be another post.

This hike starts at the top of Lake Ave in Alta Dena.  Anyone who knows Alta Dena knows that there is good soul food to be found. No we didn’t go to Roscoes Fried Chicken and Waffles, it was Sunday after church, the line was out in the parking lot. Instead we stopped at Louisiana Fried Chicken, food served in plastic baskets and only a few  plastic tables.  We earned the right to eat fried chicken and what can I say – there is nothing moister than good fried chicken. The batter has a little kick and the steam just wafted off the basket.  I’m getting hungry all over again, but my legs are still sore from Sunday’s hike, so I will just enjoy the memory.


The Angeles Forest

In order to get to the gold mine, we hiked about two miles.P1110256As we started out, there were still wildflowers to be seen. We were at about 4000′ of elevation, lower down all the wildflowers have died in the heat.P1110258This bright red greeted us often on the path.P1110259If you catch the angle just right, everything is green.P1110276When in reality, we hiked through pretty dry areas, where the agave thrive.P1110280Most of the hike was on the old road, so although rocky, it wasn’t hard.P1110263Until we got to washout areas like this.P1110264Or this. Nature is busy deconstructing the mountain.P1110266Since at this height the mountains get snow in the winter, trees and bushes thrive. As does the large flowering stalk of the agave.P1110275The Forest Service took down as much of the ‘town’ as it could. This must have been the base for some of the heavy mining equipment, so it remains.P1110260Of course it was the rock formations that interested the miners. Not sure this is any indication of gold, but it sure is pretty.P1110480As are these specimens I brought home. White quartz and green Mica??? I have no idea, they are just pretty rocks to me.P1110483This one is very flaky, yet very green. It means there is some kind of mineral in it, but what it may be, I don’t know.

I do know that when the weather cools down, I need to do some more hiking in our local mountains.


Abandoned Gold Mine

History is very fickle, we learn one thing and any other information that doesn’t fit that narrative simply isn’t true. It doesn’t occur to us that the truth can encompass our original knowledge plus more.

Case in point, gold mines.  The existed in Northern CA and maybe parts of Nevada, but certainly not in Southern California. This weekend I had the opportunity to hike to a local mine and learn a lot, not only about gold but also about the old fashioned way of mining.

Kudos to The Los Angeles Obscura Society for organizing  a hike in the Angeles Forest to The Big Horn Mine with expert Eric aka Xavier Drenfold, a twenty year old kid with a passion for old mines.P1110281The mine was discovered in 1895. What we see here is the active, rapid decay of the mill. The Mine itself is tunneled into the mountain, this structure was the mill, where the gold was extracted from the rock. By the time it left the mountain, about 98% of the gold had been extracted – a very high rate. The work was done onsite – simply because it was more cost effective.P1110284The structure is rapidly falling apart, in 20 years it will be completely gone. These mountains erode very quickly as we found on our hike out, the July rainstorm caused a lot of erosion that hadn’t been there just a month before. Mills are always built at the exit of the mine, right on the slope, so of course, the structure is collapsing. P1110300A massive iron hook to hold the cablesP1110286Flowers grow among the steal cables.P1110285Pilings that held the ore-carts.

Getting all this equipment up the mountain was probably achieved by using mules. We hiked a long what is left of a road that was built out to the mine. The man who found the mine, Thomas Vincent never had the money to invest -so he sold to someone else and worked for them.P1110289This mine was never very profitable, because of how the gold is embedded in other minerals, it is simply very hard to extract – especially with the old techniques of one hundred years ago. The Mine changed hands at least 7 times, no one made much of a profit. In 2006 the Forest service bought it since it is surrounded by National Forest land, so whatever gold is there – will remain.mineYes, it is a little scary standing in here, who knows when something will give way and fall.P1110283I’m sorry to see that graffiti is now the norm even out in the wilderness. Yes I hold the Art world somewhat responsible – they decided that graffiti is art and even have exhibitions of it in museums – all this does is encourage more people to go out and tag.  As cities have gotten better at controlling graffiti, people simply go out and destroy nature – because they can. Also because they have been told that it is ‘art’ and is valuable. No it isn’t, it’s ugly, it’s destructive and its harmful.P1110298At least they haven’t gotten to this side yet.P1110291These rickety stairs were placed here in the 1970s’  not a safe way to get up to the actual mine. But You know me, old man made materials are often very beautiful to me, especially as they age and decay.P1110294Like here, the confluence of  materials.  Once the mine is no longer operational, no one is going to spend any money removing the structures and much of the equipment. Which is what makes the mines so fascinating. The Forest service does not like this and they have been destroying and closing up mines where ever they can. They are about the forest and the safety of hikers, not about preserving mines – even if they are an important part of our heritage.P1110293Massive bolt.P1110297Part of the stamp process that still remains.P1110267This is the entrance to a smaller mine we passed along the way, but this is what the Forest service has done to many of these mines. The only reason they haven’t blasted this shut is because of the bats that live here.P1110301Most of the group went in to explore, sorry, I get very nervous in dark closed spaces, a few flash lights won’t make it easier for me.P1110302So I snapped a few images at the entrance and went back down.  If you are interested in images from inside the mine, got to Xavier’s Flicker page.  I must say I was extremely impressed with Eric. 20 years old, has found a passion in life, yet he recognizes that exploring old mines is no way to make a living, so he is studying nursing. That way he will have a good solid career as well as a fascinating hobby.P1110287Nature is right outside the mine.