You are browsing the archive for environment.

Hike To LA’s Abandoned Dawn Mine, aka, Attempted Murder by Squirrels

December 5, 2014 in environment, History, LA, Photography

dawnhike01 dawnsquirrel07There are three ways to hike to the abandoned Dawn Mine above Altadena.

The first is closed, the second is overgrown, but the third, in a metaphorical bear sense, is just right.

dawnhike03John W. Robinson, in his book “Trails of the Angeles: 100 Hikes in the San Gabriels,” calls it “the most storied gold prospect in the front range.”

But that’s not saying much.

Because no one has made their fortune from gold in the mountains overlooking the San Gabriel Valley, that doesn’t mean that a bunch of people haven’t tried.

The prospectors started to scratch the surface of Millard Canyon in 1895, and one of those prospectors, Bradford Peck, named the area near the top of the canyon after a friend’s daughter, Dawn Ehrenfeld.

It wasn’t until 1902 that the real mining began. Michael T. Ryan, an Australian, began the first tunneling into the cliffs on one side of the tiny stream, creating the tunnel that we can still enter.

2014oct31-dawnhike08 dawnhike06 dawnsquirre10But he came across one problem. How to carry the tons of ore, that needed to be crushed to extract the gold? Hiking the two and a half miles down boulder strewn Millard Canyon was difficult and time consuming. So he forged a trail up the side of the mountain to the Mt. Lowe Railway. Once there he loaded the ore onto the Mt. Lowe train and it headed down, via the funicular, to extract that beautiful gold.

After Mr. Ryan gave up, realizing that he, like the others, was not going to make his fortune, the mine changed hands many times. In the 1950’s the area became derelict, littered with mining equipment and abandoned shacks.

Over the years they became covered with graffiti and run down. Eventually all were removed except an old engine, which still sits as a marker to the mine entrance.

To hike Dawn Mine, drive up the road called Chaney Trail (which is “closed” sunset to sunrise). Chaney Trail tees off West Alta Loma Drive, between Lincoln Ave and Fair Oaks Ave in Altadena.

A section of the trail leading up Millard Canyon to Dawn Mine.Chaney Trail is a small winding road that leads up into the San Gabriels. At the end of this road is a car park — don’t park here, because this is the entrance to the closed section of the trail. Park instead at the highest point of Chaney Trail. It’s where the fire road leads up into the mountains. Parking is a problem, because there are so few spaces. It is usually full on weekends, so if you can, go on a weekday, or pray to the parking fairies.

dawnhike05Hike around the fire road barrier, past the water tank and then make a left after 0.4 of a mile, according to my phone, which obviously knows everything.

The turn is the sign posted for The Sunset Ridge Trail. This trail leads down into Millard Canyon.

Note: There is a fork on this trail, but keep left, down toward the canyon floor. At 1.05 miles from the car park, the path reaches the gently flowing stream at the bottom of the canyon, which was, in this October 2014 drought, really just a trickle. The mine is near the top of Millard Canyon, so head upstream, north, away from civilization.

Note: Downstream from here the trail is closed, which leads to the car park you are not supposed to park in, as the forestry service is attempting to rehabilitate it after the Station fire in 2009.

My first attempt to find Dawn Mine was a failure, because I went the wrongway. Although on the plus side, I did come across a stunningly beautiful three tiered 40-foot waterfall.

Where is went wrong was not making a right turn, although it is probably worth it just to see the waterfalls.bIf you do want to see Dawn Mine make a right 1.25 miles from the parking lot. Or to put it another way, make a right 0.2 miles after reaching the tream; Once making this turn, follow the river another 1.6 miles upstream, or 2.85 miles from the parking lot to the mine itself.Note: Downstream from here the trail is closed, which leads to the car park you are not supposed to park in, as the forestry service is attempting to rehabilitate it after the Station fire in 2009.

My first attempt to find Dawn Mine was a failure, because I went the wrong way. Although on the plus side, I did come across a stunningly beautiful three tired
40-foot waterfall. Where is went wrong was not making a right turn, although it is probably worthnit just to see the waterfalls.

If you do want to see Dawn Mine make a right 1.25 miles from the parking lot. Or to put it another way, make a right 0.2 miles after reaching the stream. Once making this turn, follow the river another 1.6 miles upstream, or 2.85 miles from the parking lot to the mine itself.nAlmost all of this 1.6 miles is hopping over rocks, clambering over boulders, or ducking under fallen trees.

Note: While doing all this hopping, clambering, and ducking, pause for a momentnand enjoy the peaceful miles-away-from-the-city burbling stream, squirrel and bird sounds.

From here on out it is practically impossible to get lost, just follow the stream.nThere are spray-painted arrows along the way, but they are not really necessary; just follow the stream.

Because this is not a well traveled path a number of the stones are loose so be careful of twisting an ankle, but that is not the only danger. When the cliffs were towering on one side of the valley, there was a huge cracking noise 50 feet ahead. A stone the size of my head had fallen from the cliff face and I just saw it bounce and settle with the other stones in the stream bed. Sitting on a tree limb, near where the stone fell, were two squirrels staring at me.

Because I can speak to the animals, here is a translation of what one of them was saying: “Damn it Bob, you pushed it too early, I told you to wait, I get to push it next time, then we get to have hiker for dinner.”

Because of all the clambering the trail seems longer than it is, but keep going, and then eventually there is an abandoned piece of machinery up to your left. It’s an old engine, with a flywheel attached to each side. The entrance to the mine is hidden just the other side of the engine. On hands and knees, the first view into the mine is what everyone expects when looking into a mine, the classic wooden posts holding up a crosspiece. Althoughnlater, thinking about it, I think this is part of a door to keep people out, and just thenjamb is left. But I could be wrong.

Barring entrance to the cave is a small body of water, people had helpfully thrown in pieces of wood and tree branches to create a slippery unstable walking surface. But I was told by another hiker I met that day, when he had visited the mine the
previous year and had decided to not enter as the water was too deep. I don’t know if this was because of the drought, but like those signs at amusement park water rides, You Might Get Wet.

Thirty feet into the tunnel, just past the pond, is a dry area splitting off into two tunnels, with a huge open gallery above. The light grey rock is splattered with yellow, which reflects in the second pond. There are holes drilled for dynamite still visible in the rock.nYou will need a flashlight, as the mine is pitch black even so short a distance inside. I didn’t go any further than this, as mines and underground scare the hell out of me, but just this short distance inside it was cool and peaceful, in a I-might-die-from-a-cave-in, sort of way.

But remember kids, abandoned mines are dangerous, and while I went alone, anfriend knew where I was going, and was waiting for my back-to-civilization text.

Now the facts: Starting elevation: 2000 ft. Ending elevation: 3135 ft. The total time of my hike, from car to car was three and a half hours, with a total of 5.7 miles,
all according to my phone. When hiking up Millard Canyon to Dawn Mine, it feels like sprawling Los Angeles is hundreds of miles away, with the silent trees and the burbling stream and the imposing canyon walls and the murderous chattering squirrels it’s a moment of quiet in a noisy city.

P.S. I mentioned that there were three ways to reach Dawn Mine, and just for balance sake, I will mention the abandoned trail, although I don’t recommend it, unless you like long hikes in the sun and wielding a machete. It is the trail that the Australian forged from the mine up to the Mt. Lowe Railway. Start at the same place, but follow the tarmacked fire road up the ridge of the mountain for three miles. Unlike down in the shaded valley, it is in the harsh sun all the way, but the road is smooth underfoot,neven if it is steep uphill most of the way. After the three miles there is a historical marker pointing out that this was a stop of the Mt. Lowe Railway and passengers used to disembark and hike down to Dawn Mine.

I attempted hiking down the trail, but after 50 feet it was almost completely overgrown and difficult to discern, so I left it for someone else, with an adventurous spirit, and a machete.

Street Seen: L.A. Bus Stops Can Be The Loneliest Places

November 8, 2014 in Art, environment, LA, Mass Transit, Photography, Transportation

busstop

Profile photo of frazgo

by frazgo

L.A. Auto Show starts in 5 weeks….I’ve got a promo code

October 14, 2014 in Downtown, Driving, Entertainment, environment, Events, News, Shopping, Transportation

L A Auto Show logo...

Although I can’t help with a freebie…this promocode AUTOTRADER2014 good through 11/15 will get you discounted tickets good for admission 11/24-27.

I’ll try not to throw too many superlatives at the event, but this year I think they are going to be able to outdo what they’ve done the last several years.

On tap are 60 reveals for this show, 30 of which will be Global Reveals…or reveals for the first time anywhere for the global market.  Those are always pretty spectacular as the manufacturers really want to get our attention.

In addition to the Green Car of the Year, Green Truck of the Year and Green Fleet of the Year awards are going to be awarded at this years Los Angeles Auto Show.  Smell us…we’re really a big deal.

As always I’ll be there for press days and blogging what happens along with the oddities of the day that regular show goers don’t get to see.  I’m even going to a few of the Manufacturer private after parties which are always fun.  Last year Hyundai had Ziggy Marley as the entertainment and the wait staff was all dressed as zombies. Too.  Much.  Fun..

Watch This: I Live In The L.A. River

August 19, 2014 in environment, LA, People

One woman has spent the past 15 years living at the bottom of the L.A. river, this is her story. From the team at BuzzFeedYellow.

Related resources:
Lamp offers mental health care and other services to homeless people.
http://m.lampcommunity.org/give.php

Friends of the Los Angeles River is a non-profit set up to restore the natural habitats of the river.
http://folar.org/

Profile photo of frazgo

by frazgo

Solar powered cars – what will they think of next?

May 30, 2014 in Driving, environment, Social issues, Technology, Transportation, Utilities

While the rest of the city was chasing #hiddencash I was doing something a lot more entertaining yesterday. I learned about solar powered cars.  Then again, I nerd out on technology and cars so this was a double win for me.

I spent a nice chunk of yesterday listening to Mike Tinskey at Fords Los Angeles Regional office talk about the future of electric cars.  Mike is the Global Director of Vehicle Electrification and Infrastructure so he knows a few things on the topic.   Read the rest of this entry →

Profile photo of frazgo

by frazgo

Camelopardalid Meteor Shower to peak Friday Night

May 20, 2014 in environment, Events, News, Seasonal

Reports on this meteor shower are all over the board.  In short from what I’ve been geeking out over is that this is the first time we will be crossing this debris field from a some forgotten comet.  The potential is that it will exceed 100 meteors hour at its peak here Friday Night.  Maybe even be a full fledged meteor storm, but I’m not getting my hopes up.

Venerable JPL in Pasadena is hosting an open house of sorts Friday evening for the public to view it.  Their facebook page HERE.  They predict peak viewing for us will be  Friday 11PM to 1AM Saturday.  The meteors will appear from an area of the barely visibile Camelopardalid constellation.  Easiest way to remember is that this is between the Big Dipper and Little Dipper in the North, North Eastern sky.

Those of you sitting in traffic on points east or on your way to Las Vegas in the middle of the desert may get a great viewing as well. Since I’m in the foothills with no city lights or street lights for that matter, I’ll simply set up some lawn chairs in the front yard and hope for the best.  To add to the nerding out over this…I”ll be out there with a camera hoping to capture one or two of them zipping across the sky.  I’d much rather be out at Joshua Tree for this, but too much is going on this weekend to do that.

Profile photo of frazgo

by frazgo

Get your geek on for Earth Day with a #globalselfie

April 21, 2014 in Entertainment, environment, News, Photography, Science

Its a NASA fun event. You know the folks that track a bajillion sattelites in orbit around us taking pictures of us night and day. They have a fun promotion, game if you will for Earth Day today. Take a selfie, post it with the hashtag #GlobalSelfie and they’ll in turn use all of the images into a giant mosaic of earth.

The subject doesn’t matter, mountains, rivers, oceans, forest…just include you with a sign naming your location. The sign can be downloaded in numerous languages HERE. Your snap then can be uploaded to twitter, instagram or google+ with the hashtag and its on it will get captured for the mosaic.

Profile photo of frazgo

by frazgo

This is what a drought looks like

March 14, 2014 in environment, San Gabriel Valley, Seasonal, Weather

Things are pretty dire around here.  After several years of not having “normal” rainfall this year was a disaster. Last stat I heard was we only got 1/3 of “normal”.

This morning I took a drive into Azusa Canyon for a walk along the river.  Path was closed due to recent fires and mudslides so I opted to take a drive into the canyons. Gorgeous day for that.  Everything is so clean and green after the storms of 2 weeks ago.

I was really surprized by how empty the dams were.  Worst I’ve seen them in years.  You can see the normal levels way up the sides of what should be big bright full lakes.  In the case of San Gabriel Dam, from the lookout above you can actually see the bottom, and many spots its just muck filled with flotsam and jetsam.  Not pretty at all.  Doesn’t bode well for our summer water needs either.  (Yes I know we don’t get water directly from there, rather water is released to settling ponds to recharge our groundwater). Read the rest of this entry →

Profile photo of frazgo

by frazgo

Its just too Damn Big – Hahamonga dredging protest

December 12, 2013 in environment, Events, Politics, San Gabriel Valley, Social issues

Somehow, somewhere, things have gotten out of hand in the Hahamonga Watershed area nestled below JPL and abutted by LaCanada and Altadena/Pasadena.  After many community meetings, a questional EIR and just plain upset folks it looks like the plan to completely dredge out and obliterate every living thing is moving forward.  An important natural recreation and wildlife spot will be lost if they move through with their plans.

Concerned citizens are being asked to gather on either side of the dam for a holding of the hands protest.  It will take place on Saturday 12/14/2013 at a11AM.  Full details on where to meet up is on the flyer you can click to embiggen.  There is a FB page with more information on the protest as well as the plans by L.A. County Public Works to dredge and expand.  MAP HERE

 

 

 

Profile photo of frazgo

by frazgo

Press Days of the LA Auto Show

November 24, 2013 in Downtown, Driving, Entertainment, environment, Events, Fashion, Food & Drink, Media, Technology

I can’t begin to tell you the fun I have at Press Days for the L.A. Auto Show.  Yes, its a lot of work but a lot of fun is interspersed during it too.  You get to meet some really interesting people from all over the world, both media and manufacturer types.  The reveals are 20 minutes long and 5 minutes apart.  You have two choices…hustle to each or pick and chose the ones you want to stake out and really see.  I always take the latter approach and have time to photo the exhibits with minimal people in the way.

Most of the manufacturers have some sort of refreshment set up.  Audi and Porsche each set up pop-up restaurants with free wifi.  Jaguar did a nice cafe this year too.  However, hands down my favorite was the food trucks AND beer truck at the Nissan stand.  Yes.   A beer truck dispensing ice cold beer, ipa and ale from Stone Brewing.  I had a nice cold glass of Arrogant Bastard thank you very much.

There are tons of other things going on during Press Days as well.  There are receptions and happy hours.  Notable ones were for the Design LA and Aftermarket Halls at the show. There is also the opportunity to get in and drive cars, mostly green cars on the last day (Thursday).   Read the rest of this entry →

Profile photo of frazgo

by frazgo

Is Comet Ison worth a road trip before the butt crack of dawn?

November 24, 2013 in Entertainment, environment, Photography, Science, Technology, Which Side?

I absolutely think so.  Who’s in with me?

The next three weeks are going to be prime, PRIME viewing of comet Ison.  Its crossed earth orbit and is racing to the sun for its closest approach on Thanksgiving Day.  With proper eye protection it may even be possible to see it as it circles around the sun that day.

Ison is billed as the comet of the century by some.  It may or may not depending on whom you talk to,  survive the trip around the sun on the 28th.

Griffith Park Observatory still says that most spectacular viewing will be Nov 30-December 14 in the pre-dawn hours.  I read earlier today that the best time to view will be about 1/2 hour before dawn. Read the rest of this entry →

Profile photo of frazgo

by frazgo

Is it too early to Geek out over Comet Ison?

October 14, 2013 in Entertainment, environment, News, Photography, Science, Technology

Griffith Observatory doesn’t think so.  Its still some 6 weeks to peak viewing which is expected around dawn November 30- December 14, but Griffith Observatory already has their viewing guide up.

Thanksgiving Day about 11am Ison will make its closest approach to the sun and may be visible, with the aid of special filters when it is close to the sun.  It should be visible most of the day that day.  Wow.  Am like a kid in a candy store over this one.

Now that prime viewing charts have been established it looks like a sunset view isn’t gonna happen with this comet.  Dawn and pre-dawn look to be the best during that peak viewing period.  I had thought about going up the 15 to Stoddard Wells for viewing if it was going to be sunset. Scratch that and now looking at points east, say Joshua Tree pre-dawn excursion and set up to capture the comet in its glory as the sun slowly illuminates the horizon?    Might as well start planning now before everyone else gets the bright idea to leave the city for best views without the encumberance of light pollution.  Who’s in for leaving LA early enough to be in the desert for that with me?  I’m thinking the weekend of 12/7-8 as it won’t have the mad hordes of Thanksgiving Traffic and be right in the middle of the best viewing period?

 

Moving Waters

August 11, 2013 in Entertainment, environment, Events, News, Seasonal, Sports

As part of a pilot program this summer, a section of the long-lost Los Angeles River coursing through Elysian Valley was reopened to the public for use as a recreational resource, an opportunity angelenos have not had since the 1930s when the river’s channelization was begun to prevent flooding.

As a boy I accidentally discovered the river, and from that single experience I have never stopped being enamored with and zealously protective of what so many others have dismissed as our city’s woeful waterway — little more than a drainage ditch to the sea. Though I’ve been aware of its potential, I never imagined that one day I’d see such a sea change in perception so that  the river would made accessible and embraced not as a prohibited place but as public parkland to be explored and experienced and as something to connect with after so long a disconnect.

River route as seen via Google Earth. Click the image for the bigger picture.

So for me, thanks to L.A. River Expeditions (Facebook), to be among the first wave during this historic first season and doing what you see in these clips at the top and after the jump: putting a kayak into its waters and putting my butt into that kayak and paddling — however awkwardly — downstream for a water-level perspective of my beloved river, it’s not a dream come true. Because I never dared to dream this could ever happen. Not in my lifetime.

Read the rest of this entry →

Profile photo of frazgo

by frazgo

Whale Watching season is upon us

March 18, 2013 in Entertainment, environment, Oceanic, Seasonal

Whale Watching

The whales are making their migration north from Mexico.  We are rapidly approaching the zenith of their numbers.  The fam and I made the trek to Dana Point to take advantage of the season as we “heard” that area tends to have the best whale watching.  We were not disappointed.  Our 2 hour cruise left us with memories that will last a life time.

We used the services of the Dana Wharf Sportfishing and Whale Watching and rode out on the “Dana Pride” at noon yesterday.  We saw many sights as we cruised out past the sea lions on the break water and out to sea.  There were several pods of dolphins feeding out at sea.  What was really amazing was watching them follow our boat and play in the wake as we moved around them.

The captains on the boat are real experts at whale watching.  The offer up a narrative of what to look for as well as what you are watching.  They stay in touch with other Whale Watching boats to expedite the finding of whales by sharing information via radio where they can be found.  (Spoiler alert…we saw something that is rarely witnessed by us land dwellers and you need to make the jump to read about it).  Read the rest of this entry →

Profile photo of frazgo

by frazgo

Drive Carbon Free for 2 years with a New Car

March 8, 2013 in Driving, environment, Events, News, Social issues, Transportation

No, I’m not talking a short term lease on an electric car, its on a gasser.  Suburban Simi Valley Ford is buying carbon offsets on any new car/truck you buy from them now through Earth Day (April 22, 2013).  They will purchase a 2 year carbon offset in your name from Carbonfund.org who in turn sends you a certificate for this purchase.

I talked with Mike Shell the leasing manager at Simi Valley Ford yesterday getting details on this program.  SVF is doing this because they want to leave a legacy and be a leader in helping to bring about an end to climate change.  So far since the Drive to Save the Environment Campaign started they have offset 1 Million, yes 1,000,000 pounds of carbon going into the air.  They hope that other dealers, including other brands will follow suit with this project in coming years. Read the rest of this entry →