Leaders: Daniel Bleiberg, Jon Sheldon
A large winter storm passed through Southern California the day and evening before our hike, but nine hardy souls were at the La Cañada carpool point at 7:00AM. The best way to do all four peaks in one day is to take the Mt Gleason road to Forest Service road 3N32. In scouting the trip two weeks earlier (thanks go to Bob Wright, Carol, and Bill Hogshead for accompanying me) I discovered a new locked gate at 11.1 miles from Mill Creek Summit. This lengthened the hike from 10 miles to 14 miles and was a rude shock.
After much pleading, I was able to convince the Forest Service into giving me the key to the gate so that on the day of the scheduled hike our group could get through to the 13.1 mile mark. However, the ranger told me that this was a one-time exception. The gate was erected to keep people out of Pacoima Canyon shooting area (recently closed) northwest of Iron. The rangers do not like to give groups the key because they must change the lock the day before and after the event. It is also a hassle for the group leader who must go to Sunland during the week to pick up and drop off the key. Future trips should just plan to do the whole 14 miles. There is room for about six to eight cars at two turnouts near the gate.
In any case, I did get the key and was determined to use it! After warning the participants that we might have to do only Fox and Condor if the dirt portion of the Forest Service road was impassable due to the storm, we set off. To our surprise, the snow level was about 1,000 feet lower than forecast and the Gleason road was dusted with the white stuff for a few miles. But we took it slowly and reached the hike's starting point around 9:00AM. By this time the weather had cleared nicely and the day's peaks were above the clouds obscuring the Los Angeles basin.
Our group was quite strong and we made good time over to the saddle next to Condor Peak. After a brief rest, we were on the trail again and had part one of lunch on top of Fox. Soon clouds began to engulf the peak giving everyone a chill and we set off back to Condor. Shirley Akawie was kind enough to guard our day packs at the saddle while the rest of us made a quick trip up and down Condor. After moving to the north side of Condor to get out of the wind, we had part two of lunch, topped off with homemade brownies. Feeling rejuvenated by the sugar fix, we set off for Iron collecting beer cans along the way. While it was a bit cold on top, the view was quite striking as clouds would hit the south side of Iron and then dissipate. The northern sky was perfectly clear and blue!
We were back at the cars by 3:00PM. and we bid a fond farewell to those who already had Gleason and were going back to L.A. The rest of us drove to the top of Gleason and took a quick jaunt around the top. To celebrate our bagging all four peaks, we had an overflight by a private plane 300 feet above our heads on Gleason. The pilot was kind enough to wag his wings in response to our waves and after a few pictures of the fluffy clouds below us, we set off for home.
Many thanks to the participants for coming out, given the doubtful weather. The group included Deborah Kattler, Dick and Shirley Akawie, Jim Killberg, Ruth Adler, Evan Samuels, Diane Harman, Judy Ware, and Karen Leonard. Congratulations to Deborah Kattler for bagging her first peaks. Special thanks to Jon Sheldon for assisting and checking me off. A good time was had by all!