Mount Lukens

The Verdugo Mountains with Saddle Peak at the extreme right.

24 JULY 2021 W6/CT-030

In preparation for our second leg of the John Muir Trail next week I decided to push myself a little by attempting the Stone Canyon Trail up Mount Lukens. I left the Wildwood Picnic area up Big Tujunga Canyon a little after 5 AM, just as it was starting to get light. This trail is relentlessly uphill. Some of the steepest parts are just before the top with a lot of loose rock “ball bearings” to slip on. In places the trail is very narrow with steep drop-offs below. This isn’t a trail for everyone. At the base there is a sign that warns there is little shade, no water and no cell coverage. Only in the city of Los Angeles County are you warned of a dangerous lack of cell coverage. 😉 Mount Lukens is the highest point in the City of Los Angeles.

As I started up the trail I noticed a light bouncing along way up the trail. This was strange because there were no cars parked at the trailhead. The mystery was solved when I came across a guy about a third of the way up as he was coming down. “Mr. Lukens” I dubbed him because it turns out he was just fetching some trail-building tools. He told me he had climbed Mount Lukens 1,074 times! The trail was in great shape (short of one washout under repair) and it is obvious that this steep, brushy trail needs a LOT of maintenance.

Another word of warning: while the trail was well maintained, there was quite a bit of poison oak on either side of the trail. Some care needs to be taken to avoid it – especially near some tempting rocks to sit on and rest on the way up. Remember: “Leaves of three, let it be.”

Thank you “Mr. Lukens”! Turns out he had parked his car at the end of Upper Stoneyvale Road that is accessible via Vogel Flats Road. This might be a better, safer roadhead.

The hike took me three hours and is 4 miles long with over 3,000 feet of elevation gain. This distance is made little longer to the nice activation area on the east side of the summit, away from all the communications installations and under a shady grove of pine trees that survived the Station Fire. The Sierra Club usually has a register around here, but I didn’t find it on this trip.

Cell service from Verizon was non-existent, as warned, on the way up. I did get one text out on the summit but nothing else. Could not access SOTAGoat so all spots were via Iridium Satellite.

This was my third trip to Mount Lukens. Both of the previous trips were done from Highway 2. The first on February 3, 1996, the second on a mountain bike in 2000.

I brought 3 liters of water and drank all of it on this trip. It wasn’t especially hot – mid 80s – but I still required a lot of water. This peak is best done in the winter.

I made 20 contacts on 40m, 20m and 2m. Most of my usual chasers checked in. Thank you everybody. The furthest contact was with Gary K3TCU in Pennsylvania. I had two summit-to-summit contacts with K6EL and KN6FNY.

Here’s the station at the eastern edge of the activation zone. Pines provided some much needed shade.
Sunrise between Fox on the left and Josephine on the right.
All the big Santa Monica Mountains. From the left, Saddle Peak, Castro Peak and Sandstone Peak. Oat Mountain on the far right.

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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