Saturday, November 27, 2010
Hike 2- Devil's Punchbowl
Oh, the Devil's Punchbowl. How I fill my cup with your 666 goodness. Funny how things work out. Just the other week I blogged about my ongoing fascination with this place and today, on a whim, the cousin and I hiked it! We did not do the Devil's Chair which is the harder loop into the mountains but that remains for another day.
We took the 5 (not Route 5, not 5 but THE 5) up to Pearblossom California where the winds were strong and the oranges were cheap (seriously, $5 for 2 hulking bags of em). That picture above is the entrance to the canyon where there is a tremendous rock outcropping before the snow capped mountains.
Apparently, according the Internet and this fine book, the Punchbowl is formed by three fault lines coming together and creating some serious rock formations. Menage a trois might not work in the dating world but it sure makes for some great hiking in California.
First up was the "visitor's center" named so because snakes are apparently visitors and the center wanted to make them feel comfortable. So they put about 100 in various glass cages around the center for us to look at; "but don't bang on the glass!". There was also this cool guy hanging out, checking out the scene and much like Cher, is used to flash photography.
Then it was on to the hike! It was unlike the East in many ways. Huge rocks made uneven walls around the canyon. Many schoolchildren felt free to yell about things many, many times. The hiking itself was not strenuous until the last 200 feet going up the trail to the trail head. Here are some snaps to give you a better sense of how cool this place actually is:
What was also interesting was how the trail was both defined and not. Multiple washouts have created several possible pathways and really many, many ways to explore the canyon. The kids especially were climbing up into some pretty interesting ledges. Most books described this hike and moderate with a strenuous last bit and that is about right. You can do it the hike in Vans or hiking boots (guess which ones I chose) but if you are going to spend a significant amount of time either hiking the Bowl and other trails or climbing the mountain goat trails, you probably should use some gear.
The trail I am really interested in doing is the Devil's Chair which is off the Punchbowl trail. The snow was in the Bowl for a bit but certainly all over the Chair trail. It was amazing to me how the desert surrounds Pearblossom but you go up a 1000 feet to the mountains, all of a sudden, BAM snow! It was very cool for yours truly to see it in the parking lot before hiking down into the canyon.
A few other notes, one there was this amazing rock formation in the first picture that if you ridge climbed, could open the entirety of the Mojave Desert which is right up on the list now:
Second, there is a tremendous Hungarian sausage place right by the Angeles State Park where the Devil's punchbowl and chair (maybe also a futon?) reside. If you are EVERY in that area, stop in and drop $30 or so, best money you have ever spent (if you are lazy, check out the Facebook Page).
Finally, do yourself a favor and eat at one of the many $.99 cent taco stands along Route 14. There are fewer things better than food for less than a $1 and Rt. 14 gives you numerous taco-related options in this area.
Information about the Punchbowl: http://www.devils-punchbowl.com/
Topo Map of the Punchbowl: http://www.trails.com/topomap.aspx?trailid=HGS271-033
Posted by Peter Flanigan at 7:02 PM