“Look up at the mountain I have to climb” Cat Stevens. Twin Peaks from the high point on the Mt Waterman Trail. Not visible is the very bottom of the daunting saddle that must be traversed to reach the summit. That’s Santiago Peak off to the left.
24 SEPTEMBER 2022 W6/CT-064
|Route:||Forest service trail and use trail|
|Hike Distance:||11 miles round trip|
|Elevation Gain:||3,200′ total including 1,200′ on the return|
|Steepness:||Steep on the use trail section|
|Road:||Highway 2 paved|
|Cell Coverage:||None (Verizon), APRS Excellent|
Let me start by saying that this hike is not for everyone. The Sierra Club’s Hundred Peaks Section rates this one as strenuous — and that rating by them should be noted. I hadn’t done a hike this ambitious in a long, long time but having carried a 38 pound pack 37 miles on the John Muir Trail mostly above 10,000′ the previous week, I felt like I was as in as good a shape as necessary for such an endeavor. Perhaps the toughest aspect of this hike is the 1,200′ of elevation gain up a south facing slope on the return! Fortunately the Bobcat fire didn’t kill a lot of the trees and there was some shade to be had. I last climbed Twin Peaks on 5/28/1995 when I was 39 years old.
I left my house in Topanga at 5am and drove up Highway 2 mostly in the dark. A “fingernail” thin waning crescent moon greeted me over Strawberry Peak as Whitedog carried me up into the San Gabriel Mountains.
The first part of the hike follows the gentle and well-graded Mount Waterman trail. This provided a nice warm-up for the rest of the hike. What is most disconcerting is the last few switchback up after you make the Waterman ridge. At this point you can see Twin Peaks and every step up takes you further up Waterman – and higher above Twin Peaks Saddle that must be descended. Twin Peaks Saddle is actually lower than where you park the car at the trailhead!
On the trip down to the saddle I was pleased to find a lot of late season wildflowers — bounty from the late season tropical storm Kay’s rainfall a few weeks ago. There was a clear stream flowing nicely about three quarters of a mile above the saddle. Made me wish I’d brought my water filter and perhaps a little less than the liter of water I was carrying. That liter turned out to be barely adequate. In the weight department, I had pared down my usual SOTA pack jettisoning the table and chair to save weight. After the Twin Peaks Trail leaves the Mount Waterman trail, the trail maintenance gets noticeably more sketchy and after the saddle the trail becomes a true use trail and is steeply graded but ducked.
Weather was pleasant – not as hot as I had feared at 7,000′ with an nice cooling breeze. There were annoying clouds of gnats that swarmed my face when the wind stopped or I was in a sheltered spot, but fortunately these times weren’t too frequent.
I give this beautiful summit three stars with the caveat that it is a strenuous hike, not for everybody.
Radio contacts were a good deal of fun including 5 discreet S2S contacts with California, Oregon, Idaho and Lorene W6LOR and Mike K6STR and K7GUD on a summit in the Tetons in Wyoming.