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Mount Lukens

14 January 1989

By: Bobcat Thompson

Leaders: Bobcat Thompson, Stag Brown

After a hearty 7:00AM breakfast at Lloyd's of La Cañada, we met 35 hikers and trailbuilders for our Ninth Annual mid-winter ascent of Mt Lukens (aka "Sister Elsie") the highest point in the City of Los Angeles. We carpooled and caravanned on this fine Winter morning to the trailhead at the north end of Haines Canyon Road in Tujunga and began hiking up the trail at 8:40 AM.

This trip was advertised as a trail maintenance trip, and Charlie Knapke (HPS adopt-a-trail Chair), Mike Baldwin and others brought very large clippers for the bigger jobs and many others brought smaller clippers and saws.

About two miles up the trail we met the junction where the Haines Canyon and the Sister Elsie Trails split. We switchbacked right just before a stream crossing and began the "heavy duty" clipping and sawing. Crack, bang, clip, saw, we slowly worked our way up the beautiful, but heavily overgrown Haines Canyon Trail. At least 25 of the participants helped with the sawing, clipping and moving the bigger trees off the trail.

After nearly two miles of this hearty trail maintenance, we came upon a dead VW wreck just above the trail. We knew we were close to the fire road. We finally broke through to open road and rested our blisters and sore muscles for 15 minutes. Then we crossed the road (to get to the other side) and did some more heavy duty clipping and sawing and moving of large tree branches to open up the trail to the ridge.

Another hour of firebreaks and trails brought us to the summit of "Sister Elsie" at the benchmark. Here we met numerous workers maintaining the metallic forest on top of LA. We hiked about 1/3 mile almost due east of the summit to the register location on top of a nearby bump where we spent an hour enjoying the warm, sunny day and eating (and drinking) lunch. Don Tidwell had hidden a bottle of Sierra Nevada beer in the register can on Christmas day for the leader to find. What a nice surprise! The Register read: "Merry Christmas from Santa Claus".

This was my 32nd ascent of Mount Lukens in the past 32 years, and one of the most satisying and enjoyable, having opened up a beautiful trail to hikers again, and the many fine people along who helped. I hope the HPS adopts this trail to help keep it open to peakbaggers.

About 1:00PM we left the beautiful summit where we spent an hour at lunch and napping. Heading northwest along the summit ridge, we intersected the Stone Canyon Trail, followed it down to the north for another 1/2 mile, and then took a spur west on the main ridge to reach the Sister Elsie Trail in a low saddle. We followed it down southward another 1 1/2 miles to where it intersected the Haines Canyon Trail and then retraced our route back down Haines Canyon to the cars by 3:30PM. A few regulars ended the day at Pepe's Mexican Restaurant in La Cañada to top off a great day of trail maintenance and peakbagging.

Thanks to Stag for his usual great assistance in getting everyone up the peak and to all the participants who worked so hard to open up this great trail through 12 foot high trees and brush.

Same time next year for our Tenth Annual?

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