Sunday, February 23, 2014

Frozen Lake Welch

Harriman State Park,
Rockland Co.,
New York

Total Time: 1:20 hours
Estimated Distance: 2.1 miles
Level of Difficulty: Difficult snow and ice conditions
Level of Recommendation: Recommended
Points of Interest: Frozen lake
Pros: Hike on a lake
Cons: None

Hiking Partner:
Shimmy Rosenberg

Google Map of Parking:

View 2014 Hiking Locations in a larger map

The lakes in Harriman had been consistently frozen for several weeks now, and according to the rangers the ice was 14 inches thick (it needs to be 6 inches thick to be safe). Lake Welch is a big lake with a few islands, and makes a good winter hike. You'll usually meet some ice fishermen as its the first lake in Harriman coming from the southeast part of the park. We parked in the boat launch area right after the causeway, and entered the lake by the boat launch. We headed east/southeast towards the islands, and then walked along to the beach area on the eastern side of the lake.

It had briefly warmed up over Friday and Saturday, so the top snowy layer on the lake was partially melted, making the top part of the ice wet and slushy and very difficult to walk through. Despite having waterproof boots, we both got our feet very wet from this hike. Once we got to the beach we realized it was too difficult to walk back on the lake, so we took the road on the shore of the lake which was plowed, and when it ended we hiked along the path on the side of the lake. Even the hike part was very difficult, with a thick cap of ice above the snow that sometimes you floated above and sometimes you sank through.

Map of the Route

Ice is Safe!

Trail Towards Lake Welch Boat Launch

Sandyfield School Site Plaque
Sandyfield was a hamlet that was covered by the Lake when it was Dammed

"No Aquatic Hitchhikers!"

Me at the Beginning of the Lake

Looking Southeast Towards Jackie Jones Tower

Ice Fishermen

Me on the Island
The Gap Between the Two Islands

Knee Deep in Snow.
Parts of the Island Were Really Deep when you Sunk in!
Shimmy Navigating Through the Dense Brush on the Island

Shimmy Relaxing on the Lake
Shimmy With the Expanse of the Lake

Frozen Lake Welch from the Beach, Facing West

Shimmy on a Lifeguard Chair

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Andreas Canyon Oasis

Indian Canyons, Palm Springs
Riverside Co, California

Total Time: 0:30 hour
Estimated Distance: 1.0 miles
Level of Difficulty: Very easy
Level of Recommendation: Highly Recommended
Points of Interest: Lush Desert Oasis
Pros: Amazing scenery and views
Cons: Trail is too short, but there are other longer trails here

Hiking Trails:
Andreas Canyon Trail

This is more of a nature walk then a hike. Although there are some longer real hikes in the area, we were short on time and just had a few minutes to spend here, so this was the perfect-sized walk to see the area and explore the natural oasis.

Located just minutes from Palm Springs, the Indian Canyons feature several streams flowing down from the mountains into the desert with a lush setting in the otherwise barren desert. The most prominent of all plant life along the stream in the California Fan Palm, which snakes along the canyon as the stream goes by.

Andreas Canyon is one of the shorter loop hikes in the area, and it snakes along the stream before turning around going through the desert scrub back to the parking area.

Map of the Route

Palm Trees Contrasting the Barren Rocks

Palm Trees in the Desert

California Fan Palms

Rocky Desert Formation with Oasis to the Left

Barren Desert Hills Behind the Oasis

Barren Desert 

Me in the Oasis

Me with a Large Barrel Cactus

Interesting Rock Formation Backdropping the Palm Trees

Majestic California Fan Palms in the Desert Oasis

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

San Jacinto Peak

Mount San Jacinto State Park
Riverside Co, California

San Jacinto Peak is one of the most topographically prominent peaks in the United States. It is over 10,000 feet tall, and towers over the city of Palm Springs, California, which lies to its immediate east. There is a 10 minute tram ride that takes you from the bottom of the mountain at Palm Springs to the Mountain Station at 8,516 feet above sea level. The elevation gain during this tram ride is staggering and the forested terrain on the top is stunningly different from the desert scrub on the bottom. It is also a thirty degree temperature difference at the bottom from the top. There is usually snow cover at the top but it was lacking due to the excessively dry winter in Southern California.

I was visiting Palm Springs and made sure to make a visit here. While not truly a hike, since I took the tram up the mountain, I am including this mountain in the blog due to the dramatic scenery and images taken here. I did not have the time to hike to the peak, which is a solid five hour hike from the tram, but I did do a short hike on the Nature Trail loop at the top.

View from the Pine Forest Looking Down Towards Palm Springs

Looking North Towards the Mojave Desert

View of Palm Springs through the Pine Trees

View Looking Towards to Peak of San Jacinto from Behind the Mountain House

Desert Scrub at the Base of the Mountain

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Switzer Falls and Bear Canyon

Switzer Falls and Bear Canyon,
San Gabriel Mountains,
Angeles National Forest, 
Los Angeles Co, California

Total Time: 2:15 hour
Estimated Distance: 4.17 miles
Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Level of Recommendation: Highly Recommended
Points of Interest: Beautiful views, scenic brook and canyon, waterfall
Pros: Incredible scenery and large mountains
Cons: The beginning part of the trail is busy and parking can be a challenge

Hiking Trails:
Switzer Falls Trail

Hiking Partner:
Michael Wander

This hike is near the beginning of the San Gabriel Mountains, and hikes into a very scenic and forested section of the Angeles National Forest. It took us about 45 minutes to get here from Los Angeles. Being that it was a beautiful Sunday in the low 70's, the trailhead was full and there was just one spot for us to park. The hike meanders back and forth along the pretty Arroyo Seco stream as it descends into the canyon.

There had not been rain here in a long time, and this was one of the driest winters in a long time. Yet the stream was still consistently flowing throughout. The trail goes along the stream for the first part of the hike, then ascends up toward the side of the ridge before going sharply down deep into the canyon and looping back to the waterfall. On the ridge part, there is a very steep wall below, so caution should be exercised.

There is an intersection at the bottom of the canyon that takes you further down the Bear Canyon but we were running out of time so opted to head back instead of further exploring the canyon. At the waterfalls we climbed up and went up the brook for a little bit before returning back the same way we came. The waterfall is not so impressive as far as waterfalls go, but it is a very scenic area and for southern California where water is scarce it is significant.

Map of the Route

View from the Parking Area Facing North

Michael Crossing the Brook at the Beginning of the Hike

View from Inside the Canyon with the Denser Tree Cover

Starting the Ascent, Looking East

Me on the Trail at the Ascent

Beautiful View of the San Gabriel Mountains

Michael at the Above View

Michael Looking At the View at the Lookout

Me at the Viewpoint

Beautiful Flower in Bloom

Looking Into the Canyon from the Side Where we Came

Me at the Switzer Waterfall and Pool Below

View from Above Switzer Falls

Michael Standing Right Above the Falls

Michael on the Return Route

Canyon View from the Return Route

Friday, February 14, 2014

Franklin Canyon Park

Santa Monica Mountains,
Los Angeles, California

Total Time:
1:00 hour
Estimated Distance: 2.5 miles
Level of Difficulty: Easy
Level of Recommendation: Recommended
Points of Interest: Views and lake
Pros: Short, scenic hike within city limits
Cons: Lots of people here

Hiking Trails:
Chaparral Trail
Blinderman Trail
Ranch Trail

Hiking Partner:
Chaim Conrad Maline

I had visited Los Angeles for the weekend for a friend's wedding, and had about an hour to do a hike on Friday. The Santa Monica Mountains are within the Los Angeles city limits, and I looked on Google Maps for a nearby hike in the mountains to where I was staying in the city, and found Franklin Canyon. I met up with an old friend while out for breakfast in the morning, and he joined me for the hike.

We parked at the parking area closer to Mullholland Drive, and took the Chaparral Trail up the hill to the Blinderman Trail, and then down the valley and along the ridge to the Ranch Trail. We went along the eastern portion of the reservoir and then continued along the trail going south. We then took the old fire road along the west side of the ridge (I don't know the name of this trail) back to the parking area. The scenery is remarkable in that the tops of the ridge are scrub and more desert-like, where the lower valley portions of this hike are densely forested.

Chaim Conrad took his camera and took the pictures, and when I get this pictures from him I'll post them here.

Map of the Route

Pine Trees in Beverly Hills on the Way to Franklin Canyon

Me at the Viewpoint Above the Reservoir
Chaim Conrad at the Viewpoint Above the Reservoir
The Reservoir from the Eastern Shore

Interesting Tree on the Canyon Floor

Me at a View on the Way Back
Chaim at a View

View Looking Down the Canyon South Towards LA

Looking Across the Canyon
Looking North into the Canyon Towards the Valley