“…from a wild clime, that lieth sublime, out of space, out of time…” – Edgar Allan Poe
Jonathan’s brother visited this weekend. Wanting to show him something spectacular, we decided to return yet again to the Angeles National Forest, in the San Gabriel mountains that form a picturesque wall to the east of Los Angeles.
After various stops to pick up sandwiches and so forth, we were soon driving to Sunland, the town where the Angeles Crest Highway begins. This winding, steep, at times downright dangerous road, creeps steadily upward into the bizarre San Gabriels, which sit over the notorious San Andreas fault. The mountains are quite barren in some areas, as wild fires have stripped them of vegetation.
One such patch is the Switzer Picnic Area, which was down a long, looping side road, into a shady, wooded ravine. Wooden tables nestled under the trees created a pleasant site to have lunch.
After eating we opted to explore the Switzer Falls Trail, which left the picnic area and led consistently downhill. This was an ideal path for us, not too strenuous, and very lovely, skirting a clear-running stream through small gorges and rocky channels.
We didn’t see any actual falls, but imagine that in spring the whole stream is probably whitewater. Though the trail was extremely pleasant, we only walked about an hour, as there were other things to see.
Back on the road we stopped at the same Native American cultural center we’ve been at before. We’d been told that the road was closed about twenty miles further down, but decided to go anyway, just to see something new. It was worth it, as we gazed upon amazing mountain vistas as the sun was beginning to set.
The highlight was when we pulled over to collect gigantic pine cones from some trees that overhung the road. These spiky seeds were as big as our heads, and we ended up taking one a piece home. It was time to turn around though, and head back to town. On the way back about fifteen fire trucks blazed past us, with lights flashing up the narrow mountain roads. We had to pull over several times to let them go. Assuming that a forest fire had started somewhere up there, we were somewhat relieved to leave. Our suspicions confirmed when we stopped to photograph the moon at one point, and could smell smoke in the air.Soon we were winding down the hill and in to the suburb of Glendale. The sunset was in full gear now, making for a hauntingly beautiful ride home.
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