We embarked on an adventure doing the new 5 peaks via the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT – 2600 miles from Mexico to Canada) headed by Hiking for Health and Happiness (3H) group with Ricardo Cruz as the lead and the assistance of the 3H family. We explored the PCT from mile 378 to mile 386 at the same time reaching the summits of the 5 peaks. In sequential hiking order, the peaks are Mt. Baden-Powell (9,399 ft.), Mt. Burnham (9,001 ft.), Throop Peak (9,142 ft.), Mt. Hawkins (8,038 ft.), and Mt. Islip (8,250 ft.), located in the Angeles National Forest and in between the cities of Wrightwood and Valyermo but still part of the Los Angeles County.
Since the hike is a one way trip from Vincent Gap to Islip Saddle, 3H parked one SUV at Islip Saddle. Meeting time was 5:30 am at McDonald’s in Phelan for those who were not familiar with the area. Some went straight to Vincent Gap parking lot near the Angeles Crest Highway (Highway 2). It’s a long drive from my home but it’s worth the trip especially when I carpooled with Lissinia Aguilar. An Adventure Pass is need to park here. A total of 28 hikers came along in this adventure. Among them are carrying their heavy backpacks (40 lbs. for men and 30 lbs. for women) for their Mt. Whitney training. They will be going on the 2nd weekend of July.
Our hike started at 6:50 am from Vincent Gap to our first peak, Mt. Baden-Powell, named after a British officer who started the Boys Scouts in 1907, Lord Robert Baden-Powell. The highest of the 5 peaks, it took us 4 miles and 40 switchbacks to reach the top. There was a bench along the way for hikers that needed to rest. That was the only bench on the trail. The elevation gain wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be when I saw the Google photo. It was a good thing that the hardest climb was done first. You will know that you reached the summit when you see the plaque dedicated to Baden-Powell. There are also 2 circular markers and 1 flag stand for the boys scouts to put their flag in. We had a short break at the top, eating snacks, and snapping photos.
1.3 miles away, we then summit Mt. Burnham, named after Frederick R. Burnham, a famous American military scout, who became an inspiration to Lord Baden-Powell for founding the Boys Scouts. At the top, we took a short break and I got my shot with the famous heels. 😀 Harvey Fiji stripped his shirt off with Lissinia showing her hiking heels in their tradition of their hike to Iron Mountain. 🙂 Coming down a slope was an exhilarating experience by itself. We got “off-roading” and sliding down until we reached the trail that leads us to the next peak.
Another 1.6 miles, our 3rd summit was at Throop Peak, named after Amos G. Throop, founder of Caltech. When we reached the top, we saw a plaque also dedicated to him. We took a short break and had some snacks.
We then head of 1.2 miles towards Mt. Hawkins, named after Nellie Hawkins, a popular waitress from the long gone Squirrel Inn on the North Fork of the San Gabriel Canyon which was once a booming goldmining area. There was no marker here, but I wonder how we get our names on these mountain peaks. I have to travel back in time in my Delorean. 😀
It’s 3 miles to Mt. Islip, named after George Islip, who homesteaded in the San Gabriel Canyon in the 1880s. Before reaching the top for another 0.8 mile, we first stopped at Windy Gap. It is indeed windy in this area, hence the name. I had to hold my hat. It’s one of my priceless possessions. 🙂 It looks like a graveyard of trees along the way to the peak. An eerie sight of lots of fallen trees and some still standing but withered. These were caused by the devastating 2002 Curve Fire. At the 5th and final peak, we saw a small cabin with no roof. Same as the other peaks, there were awesome views all around. We met other hikers on this peak. Took a short break, ate my lite lunch, then had our group photos. Tiring after the 5th peak, I jokingly said on to our 6th peak. 😀
Heading back down from peak to Islip Saddle parking lot is about 3.6 miles. Maglory Maza took the lead. First, we stopped by Little Jimmy Campground. There were lots of campers around. Ricardo gave a short speech with Lissinia doing the English translation. Thanked everyone for coming and mentioned future hikes and adventure such as the trip to Havasupai at the end of June headed by Christina Flores-Hinojosa. Jokingly mentioned we should all BFF her if we want to go next time.
The weather was so perfectly cool during our hike. At times, it became cold if you’re not moving. It took the group 10 hours to complete when we reached the Islip Saddle. We lined up just as we did during the end of our Cucamonga Peak and the 3 Tee’s hikes by giving a high five to each hiker who completed the hike. It has now become a tradition doing this and it’s an awesome feeling when your hiking peers acknowledge and congratulate you for a job well done. Sergio Cruz drove with 4 SUV drivers back to Vincent Gap and later on pick the rest of the hikers at Islip Saddle. It was a strenuous hike. As Ricardo mentioned to us that it was his hardest hike yet considering that he was carrying a heavy backpack. I met some new friends along the way. I had a great time. This one’s in the memory books.