31 OCTOBER 2020 – HALLOWEEN MORNING W6/CT-146
I had one of the strangest experiences of my mountaineering career climbing Hoyt Mountain on Halloween 2020. The hike up was mostly in the dark before dawn to avoid the hiking crowds in these days of the Covid Pandemic, and to avoid the heat that was forecast. A setting full Moon popped in and out as I made my way up the fireroad. Shortly after leaving the fireroad and ascending the steep firebreak, I came across a skunk lumbering along the trail up ahead. I made a little noise and the animal moved off into the underbrush. So far, so much like every other encounter I’ve ever had with skunks. Shortly after that the skunk reappeared and was walking straight toward me. I clapped my hands and raised my voice and the little guy did a somersault, butt in the air and gave me a “warning shot” of scent, and then ran further up the trail. I picked up a few rocks and lobbed them into the bushes. A little way further up, the skunk inexplicably reappeared up ahead and scurried down the trail directly toward me again! I yelled MR. SKUNK! loudly and clapped my hands and the creature finally somersaulted again and gave me a much bigger cloud of that thing skunks are famous for. Fortunately I was still 20 feet away or so and the only thing sprayed was the air between us. I’ve never has anything like this happen in a lifetime of hiking and climbing mountains. I figure I must’ve been near her den with some young uns in it. Brian (WA6JFK) suggested rabies when I made radio contact on the summit.
The hike is 2.25 miles and has 1,700′ of elevation gain. NOTE: some hikers may find the firebreak section to be too steep. Please be forewarned. The summit had spotty cell coverage with Verizon. To find the roadhead, drive 6.1 miles up the Angeles Crest Highway past the 210 Freeway. There is ample parking where the fireroad leaves from the left.
The summit offers a terrific view of Mt. Josephine, Strawberry Peak and Mt. Lawlor along with Mt. Lukens. You can see Hines Peak and Santa Paula Peak way off in the west. Downtown Los Angeles, Palos Verdes and Catalina are also very visible on a clear day.
I made 16 contacts on 2m FM – one with Cam WA6VVC in Rosamond out in the Antelope Valley using his remote base WA6CAM in Tehachapi – not a legal contact, but fun anyway. Brian WA6JFK sounded like he was standing right next to me from his home in Glassell Park.