Leaders: Ted Lubeshkoff, Patrick Vaughn, Wayne Vollaire
The February 26, 2011 HPS hike to McPherson Peak and Peak Mountain was
an ADVENTURE in the snow!
The group met at the Sylmar rideshare at 7:00 a.m. We were fortunate that the
I-5 through the Grapevine opened earlier that morning after a closure the night
before, due to heavy snowfall.
At 9:20 a.m. from the Aliso Campground, we began the hike on Route 1. The
weather was calm, overcast and a pleasant 35 degrees. The trail was wet with
good traction and a light layer of snow covered the surrounding terrain.
The sun would shine then disappear behind moving clouds. After 20 minutes of
the gradual ascent, we were all hot and stopped to remove layers.
It didn't take long before we were marching through snow which quickly grew
deeper. The clouds would come and go, giving us stunning views with changing
visibility. Luckily it didn't rain and the climb was enjoyable.
The trail was easy to follow for the first 2,200' of ascent. Then it turned
into brush covered in heavy frozen snow, causing branches to fall over onto
the trail making the route difficult to determine. We had to push hard to
force our way through these frozen sections, getting slapped, scraped and wet
in the process. In the lead, poor Ted took most of the abuse.
We summited McPherson Peak at 12:40 p.m. It was cold, dreary and
snowing. Our clothes wet from sweat and pushing through the snowy shrubs
instantly chilled us when we stopped moving.
At 1:15 p.m. some of the hikers decided not continue to Peak Mountain and
headed down to their vehicles at Aliso Campground.
Ted, Wayne and Janice continued on to Peak Mountain.
Leaving McPherson Peak, we hiked down the firebreak which was churned with
buried debris in deep snow. We reached the snow-covered dirt road for the
mileage to Peak Mountain.
Then the sun came out, it was warm and we were taking off layers again.
We marveled at crisp, clear, spectacular scenic views, surreal and astoundingly
beautiful! It was so still and quiet, even the clouds were
not moving. This was worth the effort to Peak Mountain.
Walking on the road was not easy. The snow was deep, wet, heavy and slowed
our pace. But, the amazing views distracted us.
After climbing to Peak Mountain, the return hike on the road was in light
hail. We reached the towers at McPherson Peak and started down in
good visibility at 4:45 p.m.
In the morning, on the trek up to McPherson, the final 1000' had us pushing
through endless, heavy, wet, snow-laden branches. But, in the late afternoon,
descending was delightful! The ascent and descent removed much of the snow
from the branches allowing them to spring upright. The passage through the
brush was surprisingly unobstructed, seemed like a different route.
It was easy to follow our friend's deep tracks in the snow. "Thank you" to
the person who used their hiking pole to draw limit lines indicating the
correct path. These factors allowed us a quick descent for the first and
worst 1,000' down.
With 2,000' left to descend, it started to snow heavily and the tracks were
completely covered by the new snow. We reached the main trail which was clear
to see and easy to follow in the heavy snowfall and dimming light. During the
descent, the snow depth and snowfall quickly diminished and good visibility
We found Thio's windbreaker stretched across branches along the trail but
not his sunglasses which must have been buried in the new snowfall.
During the last 800' of descent, the sky was clear overhead rewarding us
with views of northern mountains against the remains of sunset. The sky
turned to black, mountains silhouetted with striking bright stars overhead,
local city lights twinkled and the glow of Bakersfield on the horizon. The
air was still and silent. A sublime sight I feel lucky to have experienced.
We got back to the campground at 7:00 p.m. then headed homeward looking
forward to having dinner together. The southbound I-5 was closed at the
Grapevine exit due to recent snowfall. We had a nice dinner at a newfound
Mexican restaurant at the Grapevine exit, and then detoured via I-58 to
Mojave back to Sylmar.
This was a FUN and memorable outing made special by the snowy conditions. I
really enjoyed hiking with this adventurous group to McPherson Peak and Peak
Mountain in the snow!
Another thing that made this day special was that all the other outings were
canceled making this the only HPS hike for the day.
The leaders for the day were Ted Lubeshkoff, Patrick Vaughn, and Wayne
Vollaire and the participants were Bruce Craig, Mark Butski, Kwee Thio, and
Distance: 14.3 miles