Sunday, September 16, 2012

Buckhorn Peak (Mt. Akawie), Mt. Williamson, Pallett Mountain - 8/26 and 8/27

In case you don't live in Southern California or you've just been locked inside your air conditioned home for the last few weeks, we've been experiencing a pretty relentless heat wave and hiking is pretty much out the question. This particular weekend was relatively mild and we figured it wouldn't be too bad above 8000', so we made our third (and most successful!) attempt at camping in the San Gabriels to bag some of our few remaining local peaks. 

Buckhorn Peak isn't much of a hike but it's a good warm up for Williamson and Pallett (and Will Thrall and Pleasant View Ridge) if you're out of shape thanks to the never ending Summer. I hear there might be a trail that takes you at least part of the way up the mountain, but we just walked behind our Buckhorn campsite (#8) and scrambled our way up.

This way to Buckhorn

After about a mile of steep and slippery scrambling, we found a flat area that looked a lot like Mt. Waterman. We looked around and didn't see anything else that could have been Buckhorn Peak, so we decided we'd made it and sat down to enjoy the view. Plenty of nice flat shady spots for a picnic or a tent and a perfect view of the peaks along Pleasant View Ridge.

Pleasant View Ridge

After a relaxing night at the surprisingly quiet and empty campground, we headed to the Islip Saddle trailhead to go for the four peaks we thought we could do in one day. We didn't start early but we should have; this isn't an easy hike and it was way too hot that day for a ridge climb.

If I'd done better research, I might have known ahead of time that this is some Three T's/North Backbone/Iron Mountain roller coaster shit and you do not want to take it lightly. You have to remember that every time you descend from a peak down to a saddle, you'll have to climb all the way back up to get back to your starting point.

Steep Ridge to Williamson (from Pallett)

Once you leave the PCT and start the ridge hike, the views open up on either side of you: Bear Canyon and the rest of the San Gabriels to the south and the Mojave to the north. The scenery almost makes it worth enduring the Summer heat.

Bear Canyon


You'll reach Williamson about 2.5 miles and 1500' into the hike. After Williamson, the next peak you climb up to isn't a peak at all, but a pain-in-the-ass bump on Williamson (but you can call it Little Willie).

Next you'll drop down about 800' just to climb right back up about 600' more to get to Pallett. Ah, finally! Now for the descent. NOPE. You still have 4 more miles to go and about 1200' more to gain on your way back to Islip Saddle. Good luck with that. Eventually we'll take another Angeles Crest Highway trip to climb Will Thrall and Pleasant View Ridge (the peak, not to be confused with Pleasant View Ridge the ridge), but not until the temperatures drop at least 20 degrees.

Holcomb Canyon

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