Thursday, 25 December 2014
There was a wind warning overnight, and I thought Rancho might have fewer downed trees than some of the other places I might go. Rancho it is! Started right at 7, took a somewhat different route up from the usual PG&E trail (so-called because it doubles as an access road to the high-voltage transmission line towers). In fact, I only touched the north end of the PG&E trail, where it joins Quarry trail and goes on up to Black mountain road.
Although Quarry trail runs along below and to its left, we see nothing of the quarry until we’re well up on Black mountain road. We top out at the forest of communications antennas on Montebello road.
A 1-point buck standing guard on behalf of two does.
From the ridge, looking to the west on a clear, sunny, breezy, and very cold morning. I was expecting this, prepared perhaps to come, see, conquer and retire from the field immediately. But I donned my rain shell over four layers of padding, zipped it to the chin, and it broke the wind enough that I was able to perch in the lee of one of those rocks and eat my apple.
Did the Hidden Villa detour on the way down, rather sparsely populated. I guess everyone sleeps late on the holiday. I always feel like these people are grinches: big signs everywhere about all the things you’re not allowed to do, and then at the bottom, the word, Enjoy! Reminds me of airlines who go through the long list of mandatories and forbiddens and conclude without a trace of irony that the skies are friendly.
Met a couple at the windmill pasture who were looking for a good hike, recommended Black mountain trail out and back, as far as they had time and energy, and assured them that the chances of encountering a mountain lion were negligible. I hope I was right. (Well, I know I was right: negligible probability. But if there really was a lion nearby somewhere… well, I’d be sorry I hadn’t seen it myself.)
At the bottom of Chamise trail is a dam, whose basin has been dry for as long as I can remember. Today it is not only full, but overflowing the spillway. A wonderful sight!
Talked with a man who had come here just to see the pond, and walked with him back to the parking area. Only 2 PM, only 16+ miles (3700 vertical feet). Lots of people out by this time, everyone enjoying a wonderful day.