Mt Williamson, Pallet Mt, Will Thrall Peak & Pleasantview Ridge
Trip details are given here.
Meetup Link here
My photos here
Well, this turned out more dramatic than expected – more ways than one, and some better than others. The original plan was to do a loop including part of the Burkhart trail south, and taking the PCT back to the trailhead. But since that part of the PCT was closed to save the toads (or frogs?), had to come up with another plan. Simplest was to just do an out-and-back, and most people seemed to like that idea. I did as it would allow us to split off in groups at times knowing we would all meet up more easily.
However, the change in plans added a bit more elevation gain, but more importantly, cut off the mileage by about 4 miles. This lead to an increased steepness. And if you’ve hiked the Pleasant View Ridge (PVR), you know what the roller-coaster action of steep up and downs feels like!
The first unexpected event occured about 5 min after leaving the trailhead, as it was clear one new hiker bit off a bit more than she could chew on taking on this hike. Debate on what ‘should’ be done can clearly start at this point. I went back with keys and suggested that she should go back, which would entail waiting quite a while. I told her there was no way she would complete the hike and I didn’t want her going up on that ridge alone. She said she still wanted to hike some of the trail, so I suggested staying on the maintained trail but not going past. I also gave her a walkie, and so off we went. More on this later.
Back to the hike. More surprise, this time positive, was the unexpected clean air and views that we received.
We could actually see some of the snow-capped Sierras (left of center) which I would never expect to see from the San Gabriels
The trail up to Williamson had good steady grade which we had no problem with. We then continued past the false summit and on toward the first peak of the day and onward.
Looking northwest toward Pallett (right) and Will Thrall (left).
We began the roller-coaster ride, over a bump north of Williamson, then veered westerly on the ridge down toward the saddle before Pallett. This part of the ridge was easily the hardest to follow the use-trail. First, there was an off-shoot use trail that veered off to another ridge (I guess Goodykoontz) to avoid, and then on the ridge descent there were several paths to take. Of course as long as you follow the ridge, there is no problem.
Up to Pallett came the first steep ascent, though Pallett itself is quite flat.
We continued down the western side of Pallett, hit Burkhart saddle, and began the steep ascent to Will Thrall. Again the area has gotten enough usage that the use-trail was quite reasonable to follow with steady elevation gain.
After hitting Thrall, a few of us continued onward to the higher bump to the northwest along the ridge. This was a good choice, as we got to hit another Pallett!
And there were better views of the desert & Devil’s Punchbowl
Back on Thrall for a break:
Now, on the way back, we had to deal with all those steep descents that now turned into ascents, so there was still about another 2000 ft gain to be had. Now there wasn’t as much worry about following the ridge as much as keeping the legs moving. But after a few hours we were on our way by Williamson.
There was a lot of desert to see:
We started the hike at 9 am and got back at 4. The hiker who had only gone up part of the trail had turned around and went back, and hitchhiked a ride; however, we did not know. I was in contact with her for the first part of the hike, but I think when we were over by Will Thrall I wasn’t getting in touch with her, so she couldn’t tell me she was leaving.
So on the way back I am not getting a response from her (since she has left) and of course get down to the trailhead and she isn’t there. Other hikers on the trail said they saw her on her way down while they were going up which was good, but still we couldn’t verify that she had gotten a ride or somehow was still on the trail.
Long story short, this turned into a slight event culminating in me yelling at a NF ranger as he refused to answer my questions about the trail (more about the trail coming from Islip) and instead repeatedly telling me that I should have stayed with the hiker. Which he had said before and I acknowledged, but now was just not being helpful…
I’m sure others will chime in with similar thoughts as the ranger, but it all goes back to the same sort of debates on how to handle these situations. In the end I can’t make anyone sit down and not hike, and wait. There is some level of personal responsibility, these hikers know that. And I state it on the events. And I’ll provide the means to make sure they can communicate and stay on the trail, but still nothing is a sure as staying with the hiker. If it comes to that, then I would just as well block off the hikes. Takes too much time to regulate, but just let people go on them that I know, and only new ones who are adamant they can do it. Otherwise, I just wouldn’t lead the hikes.
In other news, the forest rangers have turned from unreliable to antagonistic. Great. Before they would just lie about Heaton Flat flooding and Cucamonga being iced over, to now refusing to answer my questions about a trail while giving an ethics lecture. Oh and not surprisingly, the hikers who got rescued last week had checked the weather alright – by asking a ranger that morning.
But hey, can’t get too upset with views like this!
5000-5500 ft gain in 12 miles!
This entry was posted on Monday, November 10th, 2008 at 1:31 pm and is filed under Trip Report. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.