Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Hiking Jones Peak

Clocking in at only 3.3 miles (one way) one might think that hiking up to Jones Peak via Bailey Canyon would be a cakewalk. A pleasant diversion away from the crowds of nearby Chantry Flats. That is decidedly not the case, Jones Peak is a heck of tester gaining over 2,000 feet of elevation in those 3.3 miles but the effort is well worth it with million dollar views along the way plus the result of actually making it to the Peak.

The trail starts off on a blessedly flat portion of the trail (albeit paved) and a good way to warm up before the climbing begins.

There are several junctions along the way up to the Peak but the signage doesn't exactly tell you which way is which soooo... when you reach the footbridge

keeping going straight, DON'T go on the footbridge (one of many mistakes in orienteering I made on this day).

Eventually you come to another junction and you want to bear right to head up the mountain. There are several splits up in the mountains so keep your eyes open for these orange streamers, they mark the way.

Once you are on the right trail it is a single track all the way up.

It is a rugged little track but much tender love and care were evident with trail crew tools at various places and I and my hiking partner passed by a lone trail crew guy just out there doing his thing with a hoe (I passed no judgments).

Then the trail heads North into the hills

and to a devilish number of switchbacks. I mean a LOT of switchbacks. Some of the switchbacks are 300 feet long some are only 20 feet long before the next switcher. Its really insidious. The benefit of switchbacks of course is to gain elevation easier than going straight up the mountain and gain elevation you do leading to some blockbuster views of the canyons.

These views almost made up for the switchbacks (almost).

About 2 miles in to the switchbackfest you reach the remains of a cabin.

Who lived here? A hunter, an outdoor enthusiast, a bear who was born with opposable thumbs? It is a mystery for the ages.

The last mile is more of the switchback same but with the added adventure of SNOW

Snow at 3,000 feet! (which is really low for SoCal, we are a desert after all). The snow was pretty but quickly covered the trail and made the footing treacherous. This was brought home even more-so when we got to Jones Saddle. To gain the Peak, you have to scramble up about 100-200 feet up to the Peak which right of the Saddle.

The snow made this ascent slick and the descent downright treacherous  Still, all was forgotten when I gained the summit!

I don't want to oversell the switchbacks too much. If you are in a modicum of hiking shape, you will be able to do this trail but it still will take effort and the summit is a sweet reward.

As evidenced by the snow, it was rather cold on the summit so after a quick bite to eat, I didn't linger and booked it back down the mountain in much faster fashion than going up it!

I dug the day, dug the trail and had fun with a new hiking companion. If you are looking to limber up for larger trails (Mt. Wilson is looming in my future) this one will let you know how you are stacking up.

If you want to read a more in-depth review of the trail check out the always great Dan: http://www.simpsoncity.com/hiking/jones.html


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