Monday, December 22, 2008

Angeles Forest - Buckhorn Trail Hike


Back in November Paula and I headed up to Angeles National Forest for a day of adventure and birding. It was a lovely day and the weather was cool, which was a pure pleasure from some of the heat we'd been getting in the flats. Both of us have way more energy for hiking when it's cooler. The view above is looking back down the road from a pull out that was about 3/4 of the way to our destination.


When we reached Buckhorn Campground Trailhead, we found this sign. It didn't affect what we had planned, so we promptly ignored it.


We did, however, pay attention to this one! we were warned, but the "Ursine Folk" never made an appearance.


There was quite a bit of water in the stream and we figured it must be spring-fed, as it hadn't rained in some time. There were lots of neat little waterfalls all along the trail. Unfortunately it was a steeper slope than it looks in this photo, so this is as close as we got to the water.


This old tree is spending its final days as a piece of natural trailside sculpture.


The start of the trail looked so inviting. The trees here are magnificent: Western Red Cedar, Coulter Pine, Spruce--and all so very, very tall.


These odd branches really caught my eye. Trees have a way of contorting their limbs to sustain themselves through drought, destruction, wind, light.


And then there's always that rebel in the bunch that has to stand out from the rest. I'll never know how a tree can grow from what appears to be sheer rock, but I have read that their seedlings are strong and they are able to sprout in a granite crevice.

Fires have touched this area more than once over the decades, so it is not unusual for the living and the dead to be standing side by side. The dead trees often become home to owls, woodpeckers, and other cavity-nesting birds.

Note how the branches all seem to be on one side--the side that gets the most sun during the day.


After about a mile or so we found this narrowing of the trail. We didn't walk too much further, as it started sharply downhill and we didn't feel like walking back up (we are adventurous, but we are also lazy!).


When we looked towards the NE, this was the view. True high-country topography.


A natural 'dolmen' along the trail added an air of mystery...


And a rock fortress across the ravine beckoned us to explore.


Paula taking a break and enjoying the scenery. It was absolutely gorgeous here and we plan to go back--after the winter snow is gone, of course! This area is buried right now. But it's something to dream about.
We didn't see many birds this trip but we got a late start: a few Steller's Jays, Mtn. Chickadee, Oak Titmouse, Common Raven, and a Flicker.
[Composed while listening to Porcupine Tree "Lightbulb Sun"]

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