Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Devil's Punchbowl - Pearblossom

Hiking in Southern California is a wondrous experience any time of the year but one of the most attractive times is the Autumn. Though the 'Golden State' is nearing its fourth year of a very nasty drought this recent Fall the trees are still changing color, the mornings are crisp and the afternoons are generally very comfortable to put one foot in front of the other and hit the wilderness for an adventure.

If California was a sibling he/she would not be liked by the other brothers and sisters. Trying for an analogy here!

This is what makes camping and hiking so enjoyable during this time of year. Moving, seeing, experiencing, and exercising makes for a most wonderful day without the extremely high temperatures of summer.

During the month of November J and L decided to head out to the Devil's Punchbowl in Pearblossom (a mere forty minutes from their abode in the High Desert of Southern California) to explore and a quick (actually three hour) seven and a half mile hike through some of the most interesting and beautiful terrain a human could envision.

Just one of the vistas
As life sometimes does, at the last moment Laureen couldn't make the over-nighter (we had decided to bring the RV and relax in the evening around a campfire after the events of the day). But the trip was still on with John and Paul Bakas (our videographer and cameraman) and the exploration began just forty miles away knowing John had never visited the awesome geologic formations within the Angeles National Forest on the northern slopes of the San Gabriel Mountains in the county of Los Angeles.

Guide Posts

We didn't know and know we needed to know. Thus the reason our motto is 'what is in your backyard?'

Devil's Punchbowl sits at a little over  4,700 feet above sea level and was created by the San Andreas Fault which squeezed, over eons, the sedimentary rocks when water leaked through their layers thus creating the steeply tilted forms the area is best known for.

Think of Play-Doh between the palms of two hands tightly clasping each other - remove them and there you have creations of tall visions of beauty. Or at least that's what John remembers with the 'magical' properties of Play-Doh.

Walking the sometimes narrow path toward the Devil's Chair, which isn't a chair at all but just simply a large peninsula like outcropping of granite overlooking the over 300 foot canyon can be a bit challenging. But it is these hikes that make the journey worthwhile. Though the trail is only seven and a half miles it can still break a sweat on the hiker over the 594 foot elevation gain. With Fall in the air moving from a sunny spot on the path to a shady patch beneath cliffs or tall trees can send the temperature dropping fifteen degrees within moments. From sweating to being chilly.

Paul climbing out of the Devil's Chair!

It's the way of hiking!

J enjoying the view.

Walking through forests of pinon pine, Joshua Trees, cottonwoods, and the bushy shrubs of the desert chaparral makes for a day to really enjoy the many varied flora that is indigenous to the locale. Unfortunately due to the time of the year many of the animals one may see during spring and summer were not out but getting ready to hunker down for the winter - perhaps in six months a return trip will be in order to view the chipmunks, squirrels, deer, and even maybe a rattlesnake - but on this hike besides the ravens and a hawk or two gracing the skies the hike was rather devoid of wildlife.

After the hike John and Paul decided to relax in the RV at a public campground just a few miles east of Devil's Punchbowl on Big Rock Creek Road. Sycamore Flat Camp was the perfect place to set up camp and 'rough it' for the night after such a fruitful day. Then again, 'roughing it' in a thirty-four foot Bounder Class A isn't a too bad way to go except for having to start the generator the next morning to brew the coffee.

Yes, Sycamore Flat Camp is a dry camp - no water available - but it does have a very nice unisex cement block porta-potty and bear proof trash cans. The sites are very large and separated from other campers by a good thirty feet or more and the cost - a measly $5 per night! In all their travels J and L have never found anything cheaper (though L wasn't on this trip) unless it was when they pitched their tent way off the grid in 'no man's land'.

A warm fire, cold beverages, fine cigars, a hot dinner, and the comfort of a RV made for a very enjoyable end to a great day of hiking through the wilderness.

Paul Bakas enjoying a warm fire

As we like to say - go and explore in your own backyard and you will be surprised at what you will find. Following our own advice we are constantly surprised and delighted.

And isn't that what researching and exploring is all about - to find treasures you didn't know existed and sometimes at your own fingertips.

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