Joanie and I got out for a great afternoon of snowshoeing up on Wrightwood’s Table Mountain about a week and a half ago. Since then, more storms have dropped even more of the precious powder on our local mountains. Whether you like to cross-country ski or snowshoe, it’s a fantastic time to be out amongst our high country peaks, canyons and forests!
Table Mountain is 7,516′ high and super easy to get to from Wrightwood. Just drive. You’re only looking at four miles from our village center. Make sure to turn off to the right on Table Mountain Road when you arrive at the three way split in the roads at Big Pines. Table Mountain Campground is where we did our snowshoeing on a quiet Friday, where we seemed to have the place to ourselves. The wind had sculpted the snow into pristine dunes along the gently sloping ridge top that the extensive campground straddles.
All the campsites were, of course, hidden under the snowy mantle, with just the picnic tabletops presenting themselves as a bit of a depth gauge. Most of the time, snow depth was around 24″ and in places well over three feet. The windward sides of the mammoth white fir and Ponderosas were coated in sparkling icicles that fell like shards of glass in the wind gusts that came out of the southwest. Mt. Baden-Powell kept constant watch over us from across the great gulf of the East Fork of the San Gabriel River. The Mojave Desert off to the north was a mosaic of tans, yellow sands and the right-angled patchwork of green winter crops scattered here and there. It looked and felt warmer down there. And high up on Table Mountain, that day was to be one of cobalt blue skies, bright white snows, wind and evergreens.
Our epic winter continues, with Sturtevant Falls looking more beautiful than ever. Last weekend our rain gauge had overflowed from the accumulation of a couple more storms before we could hike back in and check it. The gauge holds 12″ of rain before it overflows, so this tells something about the rains this month.
Big Santa Anita Creek comes alive after recent storms. 55′ high Sturtevant Falls is back in its’ former glory as well! As we all know, years of drought have taken their toll throughout the southwest, especially in the myriad of canyons throughout the mountains of Southern California.
Joanie and I discovered 9.57″ of rain in our gauge at Fern Lodge on January 18th. Several storms, back to back, have made a huge difference in the appearance of not only the Big Santa Anita creek, but all the rest of the front country streams in the Angeles. A week later, we hiked up and past Sturtevant Falls where we took these two photos.
As of today, February 10th, a lot more rain has fallen. The stream beds have been scoured of the dark organic mat that’s built up for years. This has left bright, colorful sands and rocks under the clear waters. Beautiful.
Yesterday, I headed up Heath Creek and got a quick snowshoe in to the upper gate. Only went about a mile up from Thrush Rd. However, it’s about 460′ of gain. It’s been so long since we’ve had this kind of snow. Forgot how much of a chug it would be with snowshoes on – ha! Good times.
Elevation Gain / Loss:
From the lower gate (just above Thrush Rd.) to upper gate = 460′. The elevation on Thrush Rd. at spot where you walk up the beginning of levee road is 5,840′. This gain takes place in approximately one mile along the levee road located on west side of Heath Creek. Elevation of upper gate is 6,300′.
If you have time, keep on going past the upper gate. Soon you’ll encounter some sawn log benches placed in a square configuration. Keep going further up along the stream bed on the old, steeply rutted jeep road which is in places barely a trace. It’s steeper going now than it was on the levee road between the two gates.
From upper gate to top end of old jeep road (abandoned) =400′. The top end of old road is where two canyons come together. There’s a forested canyon on the left side and small stream running between jagged walls on the right. The elevation here is 6,700′. Look for the little framework of limbs that have been lashed to some upright hand-hewn cedar poles.