Monday, November 2, 2009

My Heart Belongs to the Hot, Dusty Pines

On Sunday we ventured east to Pasadena, where we ate breakfast with family in a white midcentury corporate plaza that now houses a Souplantation.
Postmodernism aside, we were there to finally access the Angeles National Forest, after months of looking at those distant mountains with longing on those clear days when the haze has not swallowed them up.

Not knowing much about the forest, I'd found some information about the Echo Mountain Trail to the Mt. Lowe Railway area, which sounded promising. We accessed it by following Lake Avenue through Pasadena and then Altadena until it ends at Loma Alta Drive. As we drove past the Lake Avenue Gold Line stop in my mom's car, Bobby and I realized we had found a trailhead that would be easily accessible by bike and transit. Hooray!

It turned out we didn't have much time for hiking, but I consider it a thoroughly successful reconnaissance mission. The trail rises from the old Cobb Estate, and since it was a pretty hot day sweat soon covered us all. Some mountain elf we met on the trail told us that you could see a groove carved along the edge of a canyon, evidence of the old Mt. Lowe Railway's path, but I'll need to get some more detailed information for our next visit.

I'm a child of Southern California mountains, since my family landed in San Bernardino in the 1890s and raised grapes in the hills there till the Depression struck. Even after she left that agricultural life, my great-grandmother took all her offspring on nature expeditions. My mother's subsequent appreciation for hiking and camping took root in me as well. The exhiliration I feel when I hit a dusty trail, surrounded by chaparral and breathing in the wafting smell of hot pines, goes a long way to making this girl feel human again.