Posted by: David and Deirdre Hayward | May 28, 2009

Winston Ridge and Winston Peak – San Gabriel Mountains

May 24th 2009TOPO!map

4.9 miles              1,400 feet elevation gain.

As we will have a day to recover (Memorial Day), we decide to take a longer trip to the back range of the San Gabriel Mountains. I have picked out this hike some time ago as being one of the more accessible peak “bags” from the Sierra Club Hundred Peaks section, and a change from our usual annual trip to Mt. Waterman (in the same area). It is described as easy (we shall see) and so I have another peak in mind if we finish early and with spare energy. It’s about a 75 mile drive to the trailhead but the last 33 or so are on the Angeles Crest Highway. The roadside Spanish Broom adds a bright yellow color to the rocky road cut and as we gain altitude we are greeted by the smell of pine forest. Mercifully the traffic is light, although there is plenty of activity around the early trailheads, especially Switzers. Our trailhead is at Cloudburst Summit – just a fraction over 7,000 ft. As we get our boots on, we are delighted by the clear skies and low sixties temperature, although we take extra clothing in our packs.

Pacific Crest Trail

Pacific Crest Trail

 

The Pacific Crest Trail crosses the road here and we head northeast along the trail as it drops towards a creek and heads into the back country. Almost immediately we spy first one, then another and another bright red snow plants enjoying the last of their flowering season. Soon thereafter, we encounter wallflowers and carpets of grape soda lupines, violet with splashes of yellow and white.

Snow Plant

Snow Plant

 The trail crosses a fireroad which we have been roughly paralleling and climbs over a few bumps to a saddle. Here the PCT veers away into Cooper Canyon. On our left is the faint trail we will take up Winston Peak on our return. It looks a little imposing and I can almost hear the sigh passing through Dee’s thoughts. Anyway, upward and straight onward we go towards Winston Ridge which we can now see ahead.

Time for a snack.

Time for a snack.

The trail is less well marked here and decidedly loose underfoot as we traverse around the left of a significant “hill”. The rock is mainly granite. There is quite a drop off to our left so we proceed with some caution finding a convenient tree trunk across the trail as a drink and snack stop. Here there are beardtongues and several other plants I will need to identify on our return.

Beardtongue

Beardtongue

The view is magnificent. We reach a second saddle and get an extensive view over the desert. If only we had been here four hours ago we might have seen the space shuttle on its way into Edwards Air-force Base!

Winston Ridge

Winston Ridge

We make our way up the final few hundred feet of elevation gain to the top of the ridge, completely overwhelmed by the view, but mindful of the 2,000 feet drop to Little Rock Creek on our right. We are not quite sure which tumble of rocks is the real top and we can’t locate the Sierra Club sign in book.

Summit of Winston Ridge

Summit of Winston Ridge

It seems strange that having climbed up here we are about the same altitude as our starting point. In any case we go a little farther along the plateau to a shaded spot with the best views of all – and have lunch. The left over chicken from last nights dinner is scrumptious! We move back to the high point for a self portrait and reluctantly take our leave.

Just a few hundred yards down, we encounter a dog complete with back pack – well side pack. He is focused on the summit and ignores us. Just behind follow his owners and behind them another dog and two more humans. This dog is somewhat less environmentally inclined and barks furiously. Once again we escape the summit before the crowds. Maybe the altitude (or the chicken lunch) is getting to us but the way back to the second saddle seems more of an effort. And here we are at the junction with Winston Peak and 700 feet to ascend straight up to the top.

And now for Winston Peak.

And now for Winston Peak.

The notes we have say the trail is very, very faint. We have no trouble following it, but make several rest stops. The view behind gives adequate excuse to pause, but the pauses are short due to the prevalence of swarms of small flies. Deirdre dons her fly net, not very attractive but very functional. Alas, I have no such protection and going uphill requires breathing through the mouth – you can guess the rest! Probably very nutritious but not as tasty as the chicken. The last section is quite steep, but for once there are no false summits and we are on top at 7,500 feet. This peak is a little more obvious but the view is closed in by the pines and rock piles. Time for an orange and another summit photo.

Winston Peak

Winston Peak

Again we are alone on the peak. The path down is much more well trodden and back on this side the flies disappear and we are greeted once more by lupins and snow plants. We dawdle down the trail, more because we are reluctant to leave than because we are tired. Nonetheless my backup plan of an additional peak is not required!

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Responses

  1. Nice work! how many flower photos did you take this time?

  2. Just a few. Mainly things I didn’t know.

  3. Sounds beautiful but very energetic, makes our walk along the cliffs at Hill Head seem very insignificant (probably 2-3 miles). Nice weather though.

  4. […] Winston Ridge and Winston Peak on walkingboots.wordpress.com […]


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