Jupiter Mountain (W6/CT-140) from Grass Mountain and the San Gabriel Mountains in the background
My brother and I set out to take a historic trip up the original Ridge Route and activate Bald Mountain (W6/CT-122), however an asphalt spill had the I-5 completely shut down and we circled back and went up San Francisquito Canyon to head to Grass Mountain instead. I wasn’t sure the Audi A4 could do the dirt road, but we found the road to be in great shape and had no trouble. It is a narrow road and meeting another vehicle going the other way could require a lengthy reverse, so keep that in mind if you intend to attempt this road in a passenger vehicle.
Even though we had three bars of Verizon service, I was unable to get a spot out via SOTAGoat or via an SMS text. This made getting contacts pretty difficult. Fortunately I made contact with Jon K6LDQ in Torrance on 2 meters and he got the word out. Thank you Jon!
Because of the traffic jam on I-5, we took another historic route – El Camino Viejo – the Old Road. This route had been used for centuries by the Tongva, Chumash and Yokut Indians as trade route between the Los Angeles Basin and the Central Valley. When the Spanish arrived, they also used this practical route as in inland alternative to the more famous El Camino Real. El Camino Viejo is longer than the Ridge Route that was established in 1910 because it needed to follow reliable sources of water. After going through San Francisquito Pass, El Camino Viejo followed the San Andreas Fault Zone up past Gorman and into the Cuddy Valley. There it went north of Mount Pinos and down San Emigdio Canyon into the Central Valley.
Another tragic piece of history in this area is the Saint Francis Dam failure of 1928 – the largest civil engineering failure in US history. Because the Owens Valley aqueduct was regularly dynamited, the Municipal Water District needed to impound large amounts of water on the LA side of the aqueduct. Perhaps this contributed to high levels of water in this reservoir. Nobody knows how many lives were lost when a 140 foot high flood wave swept down the canyon through Saugus, Newhall, Piru, Fillmore, Santa Paula and Ventura
Power Plant #2 was all but swept away, only a single turbine remained.