angeles crest forest summer 2012

downtown from the 2 highway

we took a drive though angeles crest forest for the first time in a couple years. the 2 highway was closed for rehabilitation for quite sometime, and though i love the local forest, reports of people driving too fast, crashing and dying right after the highway reopened was discouraging. we came up for an overnight stay in 2010, taking the upper tujunga route, and taking note of the fire damage before there was much chance for regrowth. it’s been 2 years since we spent any time up here, and with jason just returning from a long trip away, i decided it was time to visit camp switzer to see what shape it was in, and head up to chilao for lunch at newcomb’s ranch.

switzer trail by the creek

despite some cleared areas, the forest seems to have a lot of active regrowth, and shows far less damage than i thought. this particular area on the front of the mountain was mapped to show huge red swaths of station fire moving through it back in 2009, i imagined that it burned to the ground. instead, while many of the trees have been thinned out, the old growth oaks are still there, the trail is still shady, and there are new flowers—some of which i’ve never seen before.

wild lilies on the switzer trail

after a bit of searching, i am pretty sure these are leopard lilies. i have never seen these in angeles crest, and i have to wonder if some of the cleared growth and additional sun is responsible? in some places, their orange-dotted stalks cover the hillsides.

monkey flowers on the switzer trail

i also really loved these little guys, which are called monkey flowers, native to the sierras and doing well in the exact conditions of the switzer trail. i can’t remember if i’ve seen these before, but they sure are pretty.

golden yarrow on the switzer trail

golden yarrow isn’t an uncommon sight in the local mountains, but i took a picture of it anyway because they’re so cute. we also saw lots of wild raspberries, currently either in bloom or forming green berries following pollination. it will be interesting to check in later in the summer when they’re ripe!

another flower i passed over for whatever reason, turns out to have been a lucky decision: the poodle dog bush. they seem to have cropped up everywhere due to the soil disruption of the fire, and contain an irritant similar to poison oak. when we stopped at charleton flats, we noticed posted signs warning hikers not to smell or touch them. i’d love to have gotten some good shots of their proliferation under fire-scorched branches, but those were often right in the middle of hair-pin turns on the 2. i chose to watch the road instead.

cleared trees on the switzer trail

in some cleared areas, this is what you’ll see: trees that have been cut to prevent them from falling. interestingly, though, they are surrounded by green trees and new undergrowth, which is a far cry from the brown, bare earth of 2 years ago. so encouraging!

in addition to the forest regrowing, the roads are in great shape. aside from the 2, the road down to camp switzer has been repaved and fitted with drains for runoff. after our hike, we headed up to newcomb’s ranch and sat at the bar, chatting with other angelenos [it seemed like everyone up there lived somewhere right near downtown]. unfortunately, there were reports of a pretty bad motorcycle crash just up the road an hour before, so the reminders to stay safe and slow down still apply.

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