June 15, 2002, Part 1
Experiencing the San Gabriel Mountains on the Mount Wilson Trail
It is around 6:45 a.m. and it is already beginning to look like a warm day. I am in front of the historic Trail Side Inn near the beginning of the Mount Wilson Trail in Sierra Madre.

Officially, this trail dates to the early 1860s when it was blazed by Don Benito Wilson and others. However, some believe this route was used by Native Americans long before that.

From here the trail is 7.5 miles to the top of the most famous peak in the San Gabriel Mountains: Mount Wilson.

Come along.

The first segment of the trail is within the City of Sierra Madre and is maintained by volunteers. Along this portion there are  rustic steps and railings. In one portion there is even a sturdy rope attached to the rock walls of the hillside.
This portion of the trail clings to the hillside and offers very little shade in the middle of the day.
This is one reason why it is a good idea to get on this trail early, while the ridge to the east   blocks the rising sun.
About 2 miles into the hike, I reach First Water (which doesn't live up to its name during this part of the year).

The next segment, to Orchard Camp, will be a little shadier.

On the trail to Orchard Camp, I begin to see trees as well as chaparral. The shade is welcome because Southern California's  famous "June Gloom" is nowhere to be seen on this warm morning.
One of the reasons I like to hike is that you can see your progress. This shot, taken before I reach Orchard Camp, shows that the San Gabriel Valley is beginning to recede into the distance below.

This is feeling less like a tromp through the hills and more like a hike into the mountains.


One other thing tells me I'm getting higher up: the sky is getting bluer.

Up above, Mount Harvard comes into view. From this angle it obscures Mount Wilson, which is behind it. 

As I get near Orchard Camp, the area turns woodsy. It doesn't take a lot of imagination to envision hikers of a hundred years ago coming here for the weekend. 

[PART 2: On to Orchard Camp!]