Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Hiking Mt Lukens

High on my list of peaks to hike here in SoCal has been Mount Lukens. Thanks to the efforts of the great volunteers at Deukmejian Wilderness Park, the Rim of the Valley trail was recently restored allowing the Deukmejian park to be linked to the Haines Canyon Trail which leads to the summit of Lukens. What do all of these names practically mean? Basically that this is a great hike to a very cool peak, a must do for any SoCaler.

Since I am a lazy typist, from now on I will refer to this place as The Duek. I took on The Duek and Lukens with another great hiking group set up by the Sierra Club.

This is my second hike with the Sierra Club and they always have a wide range of hiking opportunities and a wide range of people who actually show up for the hike. The group today was 7 great hikers which was a nice size for me. I am still getting the hang of hiking in groups but definitely appreciated the smaller group size. Hearing stories of 30+ hikers made me want to have no part of that. A hiker boy has to have his standards after all.

We all met up at the Park with its random stone barns

and started up the trail.

As you could probably notice, it was "rather" cloudy so the views weren't going to be too spectacular. That being said, you could see glimpses of the red sage brush beauty that is contained in this canyon so the trip was certainly worth it.

The Duek will make you work for those views however. There are switchbacks. LOTS of switchbacks.

(switchback-apalooza on the left)

Switchbacks are supposed to be your friend, helping you gain elevation at a more easygoing grade. However, too much of anything can be a bad thing. That being said, if you can make it past the switchbacks, the trail's grade gets a lot better, with a much easier grade going up to the summit.

Before you make it to the Haines Canyon Trail, you have to wind your way through Cook's Canyon with its glacier erratics

and its previous remnants of humanity

Speaking of humanity, I had my first exposure to the geocaching phenomenon on the trail today. For those of you not in the know, you buy a GPS device, you check out this thing called the Internet and then you go to GPS coordinates where there is stuff hidden, you find the stuff, take some stuff and replace it with something else.

Apparently there is a well known geocache on the Rim of the Valley trail which we found (sans GPS device, its that well known).

What was in it? The answer can be bought with the low price of a beer.

Finally, we got to the Haines trail and then started up to the summit. One HUGE word of caution. Due to the Station Fire and the high elevation, a certain plant has taken root on and along the trails, a poodle plant (one of my least favorite dogs and now one of my least favorite plants).

Apparently these plants are like poison oak but on steroids. I was very conscious to avoid these plants but of course I am OCD and that created a mess in my mind about the "possible exposure" I had when I wasn't looking or some such thing (knocking on wood) but suffice to say go around these things as much as possible.

Finally, after much trudging, the "trees" that ring Mount Lukens started to come into view.

Some moron stole the original summit disc on the mountain but you can access two alternate discs, each on the East/West axis and the "true" summit being represented by a pile of rocks.

There is a summit register but in a super secret location that the Sierra Club knew about

(bushwhacking to the summit register)

and we sat in the clouds munching on our lunches. We were fortunate that the clouds did part occasionally which led to some stunning views.

(the poor man's Sierras)

While the clouds were mostly blocking our summit views, in their own way the clouds added a really great blanket to the scenery and these shots are some of my favorites in recent months.

The summit was a balmy 47 degrees so after lunch we packed up and headed down searching for warmer weather.

This was an awesome day for me (and it IS all about me right?). I got to summit a mountain I always wanted to do. Getting there required a huge elevation gain which I accomplished and was feeling good at the end of the hike. Finally, I met some great people through the Sierra Club and had a great time jawing with them all. I will take it, take it all the way to the bank.

Here is a map to get you started for The Deuk: http://www.ci.glendale.ca.us/parks/pdf/COG_TrailsAndFireRoadsBrochure.pdf


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