Waning crescent moon over Strawberry Peak (W6/CT-018)
16 AUGUST 2020 – W6/CT-025
It had been hot the day before. 101.5ºF at home in Topanga Canyon. I wanted to get a really early start before attempting the south-facing switchbacks of Josephine Peak. I’d done this hike in 1985 with my Mom, Linnea Gardner and Patty Fox. But that was in March, not in the dog days of summer. I reached the intersection of the Angeles Crest Highway and the Angeles Forest Highway at 5 am. It was still dark and 84ºF already.
The hike is moderate – 4 miles up and 1,900′ of elevation gain. There was a waning crescent moon that didn’t cast much light, but the route is a wide fire road and after my eyes adapted to the dark it was pretty easy to hike without the help of what the English would call a torch. If you plan on doing this peak in the summer bring extra water, a hat and sunscreen.
The Hundred Peaks Section guide to Josephine Peak.
I’m glad it was a wide fire road because I saw several very wide snake tracks crossing the decomposed granite of the roadbed. Good to see where you are putting your feet. Bats flitted about in the predawn skies. Periodically on the trip up I would be washed over by a wave of cool air as I crossed the ravines that steeply fall of the south face of Josephine. These are called canyon inversions. Why? Because the normal temperature gradient places the warmest temperature at ground level. Usually the temperature drops as one gains altitude. The canyon inversion is an inverted gradient where cold air runs down mountain slopes and follows the path that water would take down the mountain’s topography. These rivers of cool air are quite common in the mountains of southern California before dawn and I welcomed the refreshing break from the hot air along the ridges
I arrived at the summit shortly after sunrise and got on the air at 7am. There once was a fire lookout tower there but it burned in the fire of 1976 so I never got a chance to see it.
There is an odd standing bookcase deal on the top that was filled with cryptic mementos from other hikers. It made a good logging table even if there was no shade.
I made 15 contacts all on 2m FM. Among them one summit-to-summit with David, N6AN on Flint Peak (W6/CT-225), with Cassie (KG6MZR) back home in Topanga and with Scott, WA9STI. My furthest contact was with W6FE in Chula Vista, who was full scale on my radio but only gave me a 51.5 🙂 I also made contact with Phil K6PNJ in West Los Angeles who was full scale at 5 watts with his Comet GP-9.
The hike down was as hot as feared and the smoke from several fires was pretty bad but I was glad to be descending. The thermometer in the car read 106ºF.