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

December 5, 2014 at 5:40 am 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.


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Christmas its a big deal in my corner of L.A

December 4, 2014 at 12:53 pm in Entertainment, Events, Holidays, San Gabriel Valley, Seasonal

I will be the first to tell you I love my little corner of L.A.  Its big enough to get lost if you want to, but small enough to be able to keep tabs on all that is important.  Plus I can be anywhere in L.A or behind the Orange Curtain in about an hour.  But thats not the real news, tonight is the traditional…been doing it as long as I can remember…the Lighting of the Christmas Tree followed by the Annual Christmas Parade.

  • 6 PM Tree lighting in Libarary Park
  • 7 PM Christmas Parade, Myrtle Avenue starting at Chestnut and ending at Palm (Library Park)

Hot on the heels of that is the Annual touring of Santa Claus escorted by MPD and MFD through the city. It takes 5 nights to cover every nook, cranny and alley in town. This year it starts on the 15th and the last night is the 19th. Details here.


Patchwork Craft Show No Go

November 30, 2014 at 7:05 pm in Crafts, culver city, Events, Food & Drink, LA, Seasonal, Shopping, Uncategorized

I had every intention of going to the Patchwork Show in Santa Ana today but a series of events kept me from it.  First church (hi hippie Unitarians!) which got canceled due to the kid oversleeping her morning nap, then I spent too much time researching ways to use my remaining root vegetables from the Culver City Farmers Market to make leftover turkey chili, Skyped with the in laws, and then I happened to look at a map and discovered Santa Ana is hella far down in the OC. By that time, this wet stuff had started falling from the sky.  Too bad…  lots of great vendors were at the Long Beach show and I was looking forward to shoving some cash at them.  Next up…  Unique LA!


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Surviving Christmas with toddlers

November 30, 2014 at 3:56 pm in Entertainment, Holidays, Seasonal

Surviving Christmas with a toddler can be a challenge.  A nice looking tree with a toddler around is easy if you take a few simple steps.  I remember all the steps and criteria for a well dressed tree from my days at Bullock’s, one fatally so as a Christmas Shop Manager, so I know how to do it.  A toddler simple requires a little revision.  All that bright shiny twinkly stuff is a huge temptation.  Let them at it but with some safeguards.

Christmas tree in a play pen - click to embiggen

Christmas tree in a play pen – click to embiggen

  • Put the tree in a playpen to keep them yanking it apart when done.
  • Buy shiny unbreakable ornaments they can put on the tree.  Do the lower half of those onrmaments within their reach
  • Keep the fragile Radko and similar above their reach
  • Use LED bulbs which burn cool compared to the old minatures and c7 bulbs…just in case they get through the barricades they still cant get injured

My grand is 2 1/2 and we found this was a much easier solution than yelling “no” all day.  Also they feel quite proud of helping put it all together so its a win on many levels.

I may get brave and try him on Christmas cookie making this year.  What harm can come of giving a toddler colored sugar and sprinkles?


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Selfie Stick the abomination for the self absorbed

November 30, 2014 at 9:00 am in Photography, Rants, Shopping, Social issues

The selfiestick, click to embiggen

The selfiestick, click to embiggen

They started showing up in recent weeks. A stick you attach your phone to for big picture selfies.

At the Auto Show this week they were all over.  They’re obnoxious. The users are screaming and yelling at folks behind them and in front of them to move. I got whacked on the shoulder with one trying to get a better picture.  Really?  Is this not the most obnoxious invention for the self absorbed yet?

Pic by me and it embiggens with a click


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A Little House Christmas opens at Sierra Madre Playhouse

November 29, 2014 at 10:22 am in Entertainment, History, News, People, San Gabriel Valley, Theatre/Stage

The Ingalls family as played by Hanna Victoria Stock, Valerie Lohman, Pamela Daly and Eric Charles Jorgensen.  Click to embiggen

The Ingalls family as played by Hanna Victoria Stock, Valerie Lohman, Pamela Daly and Eric Charles Jorgensen. Click to embiggen

Breaking a decades long tradition and following Creative Director Christian Lebano vision of bringing American plays by American authors,  A Little House Christmas opened to applause last night in Sierra Madre.

A little backstory about the play.  We all know Laura Ingalls Wilder and her stores of growing up in the 1800;s in the big woods or out on the Prarie, It was even a TV show for many years which is how many of us learned of the books.  The play is based on the book and was adapted to stage by James DeVita.  The Little House Heritage House allows little deviation and creative license,  That didn’t stop Directro Emily Chase from working with music curator Lindsey Stand-Polyak and music director Rebecca Lord from getting permission from the trust to incorporate period apporpriate music into the play.  It works. It works really well.  The songs, many of them “new” to this century are a marvelous addition to this simple themed play and adds real depth to the story.  I loved it.

The play takes places in the 1870s on the prairie and spans the course of 1 week with a wicked storm that wreaks havoc on the Ingalls family Christmas.  I won’t give any spoilers on how Christmas was saved, you need to watch the play to see the execution of the play and the heart warming ending.  Suffice it to say, kindness to others previously brought about the happy ending for the Ingalls family.

The Ingalls family as portrayed by Hanna Victoria Stock, Valerie Lohman, Pamela Daly and Eric Charles Jorgensen doesn’t deviate from the books or TV Show.  Added bonus to this is that “Pa Ingalls” in real life can play the fiddle and whips it out at appropriate times in the story to add some real life to  this simple story line. Read the rest of this entry →


Knock Three Times On The Ceiling If You Want Me

November 29, 2014 at 8:52 am in Entertainment, Movies

Never mind that the manner in which the evil creature introduces itself brought to my mind a deliciously daaaaaaaaark reboot of Tony Orlando and Dawn’s 1970 hit, if your first reaction to hearing about the “The Babadook” is to dismiss it, I’d wholeheartedly recommend you reconsider this incredible indie flick, which proves filmmakers need not throw huge sums of money at the screen to generate genuine hair-raises.

It was a delightful horror treat; a perfect tension of psychological deterioration paired with an awesomely hell-raising and sinister spook who feeds off of the complex and increasingly strained relationship between mother Amelia (an incredible Essie Davis) and six-year-old son Samuel (a jaw-droppingly fantastic Noah Wiseman in his film debut). The twisted journey into madness is made all the more wonderful by the awesome talent of Jennifer Kent in her directorial debut.


Nautical heaven at the Chowder Barge

November 28, 2014 at 4:31 pm in Food & Drink

Some of the most memorable meals of my life have been on boats.

One memorable boat meal was a few summers ago. I was in the Netherlands on vacation, and after a long day of trudging around Rotterdam in the rain, we ended up on De Pannenkoekenboot: the pancake boat. The pancake boat sails around the Rotterdam harbor for an hour, during which time you fill your face with as much as you can from an all-you-can-eat pancake buffet that includes toppings that range from the kind of thing you’d expect (ie: syrup) to the kind of thing that makes you question the definition of “topping” (ie: large wedges of brie). Also, there is beer. The pancakes were delicious, but that’s completely incidental. Stick me on a boat, feed me any food, and I will happily regale people with tales of my nautical adventure culinary for years to come, as though I am an actual pirate and not just a fairly boring person who occasionally eats on a boat.

But one need not travel abroad for a boat-bound dining experience! We live near an ocean, or so I’ve heard, so there restaurant options close to home that will move you to regale your dining companions with a theme-appropriate fake pirate accent. You could go to the fanciest boat restaurant of them all, the Queen Mary. OR, for something more down to earth, you could head down the road to the Leeward Bay Marina at the LA Harbor. That’s where you’ll find the Chowder Barge: a floating restaurant with a 40-year history of chowder-slinging.

I visited The Chowder Barge for the first time last weekend, and was glad to discover that it is basically a perfect place. It’s nestled among sailboats, and the doorway is at the the end of a swaying dock. Inside, the walls and ceiling are covered in nautical tchokes, a giant fireplace hangs from the ceiling, and it looks like the kind of place frequented by the Big Kahuna from Gidget.

You can order beer in normal-sized glasses at the Chowder Barge, but why even bother when you can just get the CAPTAIN’S MUG, which is larger than a human head. It also weighs about as much as a two-year-old. Why mess around? You get your beer and your upper arm workout, too. Here, look how pleased I am about this Captain’s Mug:

You, too, could know the joy of the Captain's Mug.

You, too, could know the joy of the Captain’s Mug.

 

You, too, could know this joy!

The food was good. The clam chowder was so bacony might as well have just been cream of bacon soup with clams, which is not exactly a problem. If you order the Double Clam Chowder, you get a bowl of chowder filled with deep fried clams! And if you order the Chowder Burger, you get a bowl of chowder with a cheeseburger in it! Because god bless America. None of my party were bold enough to brave the Chowder Burger, but I’ve already decided that I will be returning for my birthday, where I will have a Chowder Burger with birthday candle in it.

What are you favorite floating or nautical-themed restaurants? Comment away, me hearties!


Abstract Los Angeles: Road

November 28, 2014 at 1:56 pm in LA

Hi. My name is Ben, and I’m new to blogging.la.
2014june27-2161

 

Photography began, for me, at the age of 19, when my girlfriend handed me a Pentax Spotmatic, and it traveled with me for more years than I like to count.

In between then and now, I spent my time wandering, spending years restoring 1950’s and 1960’s Jaguar’s to perfection, working as a bartender in New Orleans, Alaska, and England and taking classes in everything from astronomy to coding.

Now I have taken all that I love, and wrapped it around photography.

My enjoyment of wandering has taken me all around the city where I live, Los Angeles, with the little details that it displays, and to (never enough) far flung places, where momentary meetings create lasting impressions.

Hodomania means, simply, the mania for travel. I am a writer and photographer based in the Los Angeles area, but my mind takes my feet wandering on a regular basis.

The wandering seems like a good idea at the time.

Sometimes it is.

Sometimes it isn’t.

Click each image to embiggen.

 

 

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Small Business Saturday support the home grown retailer

November 28, 2014 at 1:06 pm in San Gabriel Valley, Seasonal, Shopping

Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday

Saturday November 29 is Small Business Saturday, the day the small retailer hopes will make their Holiday Season instead of the chain stores at the Mall. Its been going on a few years now, tomorrow is the day. Make it happen for the Home Grown Retailers that support the community they live in. Here is a run down of some of the things I know are going on in and around my corner of L.A.

First up my friend Lisa Barrios owner of the Paint n Play Art Studio and Gallery in Old Town Monrovia is offering up 20% Saturday only for customers who come in and tell her you saw the post here.  The 20% off is on any Holiday Gift item, pottery or ceramics that you chose to do.  The Legacy Hand Prints she does are really special momentos you will treasure for a lifetime.  418 S Myrtle Avenue, Monrovia CA 91016.  They are on Facebook too…remember to tell them fraz sent you!

Hoopla! in Altadena is closed for the day getting ready for Small Business Saturday.  This is a wonderful store full of really unique, often locally sourced artists and writers, gifts.  Hoopla will be donating 15% of their proceeds Saturday to both Light Bringer Project and Room 13 associated with Pasadena’s John Muir High School.

Sierra Madre is rolling out the Red Carpet as a community and will be hosting a “SmART Walk” of local artists within established businesses in town.  Do stop by Sierra Madre Playhouse and get your tickets for the family to attend their production of  A Little House Christmas.  Added bonus is photographer Geoffrey Wade will be exhibiting a few of his backstage images. Read the rest of this entry →


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Just another reason I love L.A

November 26, 2014 at 7:42 pm in Downtown, Photography, Weather

Staple Center at sunset

Today was Public Days of the L.A. Auto Show. I brought my son and a neighborhood kid I’ve known since he could barely walk.  Its our annual tradition.

We left to grab a bite to eat at L.A. Live, Yard House to be precise, and exited to find this vista.  The sun bouncing off the Marriot/Ritz Carlton illuminating the ultimate L.A. icon, the Palm Tree.  It was otherworldly.

Add in it was 80+ degrees outside in November and it couldn’t be a better reminder of why I love Los Angeles. Click the pic to see it full-size.


The Apple Pan on Thanksgiving Eve – Free Theater While You Wait!

November 26, 2014 at 3:24 pm in Food & Drink, Holidays, LA, West Side

ApplePan2When you enter the Apple Pan, you have to understand you are entering a totalitarian state. This joint has been around, almost untouched, since 1947 and nothing you say or do will change how they do business. This is true on any day. This is doubly true on Thanksgiving and Christmas Eves when they make tons of extra pies and all of us die-hards line up to get them. (My husband loves the chocolate cream.) You’ll wait and if you are like me, you’ll enjoy the wait because the wait is great theater.

ApplePan1With all the extra people coming to buy pies on the same days every year, you would think they might put on a special person simply to sell pies and keep the crowds moving. No, no they won’t. Why? Because we are the Apple Pan and because f**k you. You don’t like it? Go buy pies at that tramp Marie Callendar’s place. The guy who takes your pie order is the same guy servicing his side of the counter (which of course is full of lunch eating peeps) and he’ll get to you when he gets to you.

During my 35 minute wait, I was lucky to stand next to a nice woman who had the same attitude as I did, in fact she was going to be late for a doctors appointment, but damned if she was going to miss picking up the apple pie for her boyfriend’s family!  We chatted a bit between shows.

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Mercedes Benz does an Art Car

November 24, 2014 at 12:01 pm in Downtown, Driving, Entertainment, Events

MBartcarfront I missed the Benz press conference and reveal…busy shooting elsewhere so I missed the point behind the Art Car. I have no idea why or who did it but its different.  Quality work event.

I’ve got a few detail pics after the jump.  Pretty nifty stuff.

Sound off in the comments on why you think they did it and the meaning of it all.

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No One Walks in LA

November 24, 2014 at 9:15 am in Biking in LA, Events

lam

Forgive me internet, for I have sinned. It has been nearly 1200 days since my last post.

Since my last posts on here, which covered topics like the Donut Summit and a burger-eating contest, I have been exploring a different type of competitive venture in our fair city: endurance athletics. Read the rest of this entry →


Graffiti Grammar Bingo and Spelling Bee: Exhibit 1

November 23, 2014 at 8:52 pm in Announcements, Art, ICME, LA, Rants

B-I-N-G-OBecause, this image:

I hereby announce the bLA Graffiti Grammar Bingo & Bee. Once I post five of these, the first commenter gets a prize if they type BINGO!!!! and then identify the error. (Exclamation points not required.)

Obviously, this one should be “you’re,” and I also deduct points because the elephant appears to be both balancing on a ball and levitating to paint the sign. You can’t do both, Jumbo. I know these things.

I welcome submissions. Ping me at the address on my profile to send me one.