By: Gabriele Rau
Lower Peaks/East San Gabriel Valley
Gabriele Rau/Heidi Udink
We met at 8:30 at the Azusa rideshare, and then drove the short distance to the Trailhead in Duarte. We were 13 hikers, most of them were tigers, looking for a good conditioning hike after the holidays. We started at 9:00 AM on the paved road (left side of Brookridge) leading to the water tank. There is a private residence on this road and a mailbox, and I asked everybody to be quiet while passing the residence. After a few steps we climbed the yellow gate and continued steeply uphill to the water tank. Behind the water tank a good trail leads uphill to a small road which after a few steps joins the Van Tassel Fire Road, coming up from the right.
Since I knew we had tigers in the group who probably would sign out early I stopped everybody and told them to look at this crossing and to remember it. This is, by the way, the only side road until the one close to the peak. I let the young tigers go ahead and told them to wait at the next gate. This is actually a 5 mile one way trip with 3000’ gain. It was a very hot day, it was over 30’ in the sun and there is little shade. The road leads mercilessly uphill. We stopped often for water breaks. Then Ron Schrantz, who is both a leader and a tiger, walked ahead with ½ of the group, while we others walked our own pace. They waited for us at the next side road, a short utility road to the right to the High Voltage Power Towers. From there we walked a few steps on this side road, then turned left uphill on a use trail. Now we hiked on the ridge, underneath three Power Towers, to the peak, which is marked by a pole. It is important not to miss this utility road to the left, the main road turns downhill to White Saddle. The views were truly fantastic! It was a very clear day, all the LA Basin, the Channel Islands, the Mountain Ranges could be seen and identified. We were at the summit at 11:45. It took us 2 hours and 45 minutes to get there.
As I predicted, 4 members of the group signed out and started downhill, while we others enjoyed the views. We left at 12:15 and met two of the signed out hikers, who got detoured in the brush, but no problem. On the road they advanced rapidly. They must have been in a hiking trance because they missed the turnoff I had pointed out earlier to them. Only when they encountered horses they realized they missed the turnoff and came back. We caught up with them in view of the water tank, and we all came down together at 2:30 PM. All agreed that they had an excellent workout, better views than any gym could offer! 10 miles (two pedometers confirmed the mileage) and 3000’ gain/loss in 5 hours is not a bad time!
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