Strawberry Peak & Mount Lawlor

Sunrise over the stratus of the marine layer covering the Los Angeles Basin

My old friend Bill Smith proposed to a bunch of us old rock and mountain people that we all should attempt to do the entire John Muir Trail starting this coming summer. It’s an audacious plan for a group of sixtysomethings, but the idea has taken hold. It’s going to take a lot of preparation and conditioning.

The SOTA bug bit me last year in August and I managed 35 activations last year. That should give me a good head start on the conditioning, but, even still, I’ll need to step it up.

With this in mind, I decided to do a twofer and carry a 25 pound pack in the process. To do Strawberry and Lawlor the hike is about 8 miles round trip and has about 2,400′ of gain. I did shorten it by descending Mount Lawlor down a ridiculously steep firebreak. I did it because there was a lot of slick snow on the ridge and I didn’t have spikes for my shoes. I don’t recommend it. It is steep and there is a lot of loose rock.

I left Red Box in the moonlight at 5AM. The hike up to Lawlor Saddle is a delightful, well-graded trail. Expanding vistas await the hiker around every corner as the trail traverses the steep southern flank of Mount Lawlor. There was no snow on the south and east exposures, but there was still quite a bit on the north and west sides.

Once the hiker leaves Lawlor Saddle, the trail becomes narrower and steeper heading up to either Strawberry or Lawlor along the ridge-line.

Heading up to Strawberry before dawn

I made it to Strawberry just after sunrise, about 7AM. Brian WA6JFK was my first contact from Mt. Glassell.

The ridge up to Strawberry

I had the summit of Strawberry to myself for about an hour. As I was packing, up a nice guy arrived and we chatted a bit. Will gave me a cool sticker and I bid him farewell and descended. Now the crowds were ascending in earnest.

Ghost City from Strawberry
Mt. Wilson with Santiago Peak in the distance
Nice shot of Josephine with Lukens, Yerba Buena Ridge, Oat Mountain and Santa Paula Peak up in the right corner

Once I left Lawlor Saddle and headed up the ridgeline to Mount Lawlor, the snow became a bit of a problem. It wasn’t bad where I could kick steps, but the parts that had been tracked down were pretty icy and slick. I proceeded as Norman Clyde suggested, always being ready to turn back if it was too dangerous. However nobody seemed to be going up Lawlor, so I had the route to myself.

The summit of Lawlor was pretty ugly. It had been freshly bulldozed and the wreckage of burned out telephone poles gave off a heavy air of nasty creosote. I did get a pretty good pile-up on 2 meters and worked stations from San Diego to Santa Barbara.

Radio station KG6MZS/P on Mount Lawlor with my new Big Boss chair from REI

From here I headed down the previously mentioned “death firebreak”. Again: not recommended. All and all, it was a terrific day, loads of fun

Published by wringmaster

I'm a graphic artist in the movie business. When I was a kid I got interested in astronomy. When it would get too cloudy to observe the heavens, my buddy and I would sit at the VFO of his Hallicrafters S 38c like safe crackers trying to coax faraway signals out of that humble radio. My love of astronomy and radio survive to this day fifty+ years later.

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