Ascent of South Mount Hawkins on 2014-11-25

Climber: James Barlow

Others in Party:Blondie (dog)
Date:Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:South Mount Hawkins
    Elevation:7783 ft / 2372 m

Ascent Trip Report

Another great hike in the "Avoid traffic in LA to bag peaks while Aidan is at school series." I headed up San Gabriel Canyon from La Puente, sticking to my surface street route on Sunset/Irwindale Ave, and encountering no traffic. This is the first time that I have been to the Crystal Lake Recreation complex. A little over-developed for my taste, but I can see why people escape LA to this beautiful area. Hint: go on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and encounter nearly no other humans. On today's hike, I brought along Blondie, Aidan's other dog. Blue was still recovering from his partial ascent of Rattlesnake Peak from the previous day. Blondie is a Corgi and supposedly they are good at hiking. A google/wikipedia search this evening could neither confirm nor deny this "fact." More on that later...

While the string of Hawkins Peaks and Islip are easier to ascend from Angeles Crest Highway, I decided that I needed to check out the Crystal Lake area and prefer the drive up CA-39 as I know exactly how long it takes to get back to La Puente (even at rush hour), so I can pick Aidan up from school on time. I also envisioned the possibility of going up S Mt Hawkins, then on to Middle Hawkins, Mt Hawkins, and Copter ridge, ultimately descending from Windy Gap back to the trailhead. Blondie's pace and inability to quickly navigate any rock or log over 8 inches tall quickly scuttled this plan.

I was able to drive to a very large parking lot where a locked gate blocks access to the Deer Flat group campground. Bummer, I hoped to drive that portion. The first mile is a trail that then connects with the road up South Mt Hawkins. Just below this road, we encountered the only other hiker we saw this day, Dave. He camped at the campground the night before and was out for a morning stroll. He was one of 2 parties camped there the night before. The campground looks like it can hold hundreds of people, so it must have been nice to have the place to himself! The road up South Mt Hawkins is washed out in places, but no big deal to cross those short stretches (unless you are carrying a 30lb corgi across them!). When we hit a spot around 7,300, I saw a bighorn sheep near the saddle north of the peak. It made its way south on the west flank of the peak. I tried to take some pictures, but they did not come out all that great. At this point, Blondie was not keeping the brisk pace that I had hoped for. When we hit the saddle, I tied her up to a log with her water bowl while I made the short round trip to the top of South Mt Hawkins. The views are great (I really need a new sentence for this part of every peak ever). Catalina and San Clemente Islands were visible. There is not a lot of smog, so all of LA was laid out below me, from Corona to Irvine to San Pedro.

I headed straight down the ridge, stopping for Blondie at the saddle. This type of terrain is what I miss about hiking in SoCal - open ground with tall pine trees providing shade. Cross country travel is a breeze! We headed off trail below "Sadie Hawkins." Not sure how this bump got a name, but every single nub in the San Gabriel mountains seems to be a peak. I didn't really stop on top of that bump, but reconnected with the trail and continued to the next one - Middle Hawkins. Blondie really slowed down on the off trail ascent of this peak. We took a nice 30 minute break on top while I broke out the map and did the math ruling out Copter Ridge for the day due to time constraints. I figured that I could grab Hawkins and Islip, but since I need to return for Copter, there is no point in doing Hawkins just to repeat it. I settled on Islip only, hoping that Blondie would be up for a descent via all or part of the Wawona Trail. As we headed down the PCT towards Windy Gap, Blondie yet again decided to just stop walking when it suited her. Out came the leash. We arrived at Windy Gap with her trotting behind me the whole way. I decided to leave her behind yet again while I bagged a peak. I tied her up with her water bowl and headed up the trail to Islip. Last time she whined a bit when I left her. This time, she just laid down in the shade and watched me hike away...

The trail up Islip has a number of different mileage indicators, none of which seem to be synced with each other. First I had 0.8 miles up, then I had 1.1 miles up. Funny. There is an old cabin on top, yet no register. Actually, there were no registers on any of the peaks I hiked today. When I signed the Rattlesnake register yesterday, I signed it with "78?" as my HPS number. When I confirmed data on peakbagger last night, Rattlesnake was actually HPS peak #90 for me. I was hoping to set the record straight on peaks # 91, 92, or 93 today, which I could not do as there were no registers. Oh well...

After I descended and retrieved Blondie, we made our way down from Windy Gap. After the first mile or so, Blondie hit the wall. For the final mile to the trailhead, I ended up carrying her over both shoulders, carrying her over 1 shoulder, carrying her in my arms, and a few bits of her walking. Her long fur was covered in dirt from laying down on the trail every 100 meters, so my arms and neck soon matched the color of the trail... Her stubby little legs just aren't ready for this kind of mileage. I also noticed that she had more trouble on the rocky sections, so I also assume that her paws were hurting. I was able to walk twice as fast carrying on her than moving at her glacial pace when she walked. Lesson learned here - don't take Blondie hiking over 5 miles or so.

We arrived back at the car 15 minutes later than I had hoped, which was not too bad considering the distance covered. Of note, on the drive out of San Gabriel Canyon, just before you hit the first sprawl/development, the alignment of the road is perfect to have the tall buildings of downtown LA backlit by the setting sun. Very beautiful! I should have pulled over for a picture... I was back in La Puente with 45 minutes to spare before I had to pick Aidan up from school, so in spite of the slower than expected speeds, the day was a success!

Pictures I tried to get pictures of the bighorn sheep with little success. If you really zoom in on what seem to be pictures of the side of a hill, you may be able to see the bighorn sheep. They are my favorite animal, so any and all wild sightings usually find me snapping away on full zoom with sub-par picture results (except for the time I was wildly successful taking pictures of a number of bighorn sheep just below the summit of Wheeler Peak, NM).

GPS notes: All the usual troubles - It took me 0.4 miles to get a signal, batteries died a few times before I finally changed them for good at the top of Windy Gap before descending. The largest missing gap is 0.8 miles, but it is all trail and I have a track up it, just not down it. Not that you need a GPS track to hike these peaks. The navigation is as easy as it comes and trails take you up all of them (well, use trail on Middle, but pretty much a trail).

6 hrs 15 min out and about
13.8 miles (12.6 on GPS plus 0.8 mi and 0.4 mi gaps)
2.5 mph moving avg (thanks a lot Blondie)

And there it is, the longest trip report for a few random HPS peaks with trails to the top.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1983 ft / 604 m
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1983 ft / 604 m
    Route:S Mt Hawkins Rd
    Start Trailhead:5800 ft / 1767 m
Descent Statistics
Ascent Part of Trip: Hawkins '14

Complete Trip Sequence:
1South Mount Hawkins2014-11-25 a1983 ft / 604 m
2Sadie Hawkins2014-11-25 b577 ft / 176 m
Total Trip Gain: 2560 ft / 780 m
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by James Barlow
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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