Leaders: Betty Snow Quirarte, Louis Quirarte
At 9:00AM it was warm and sunny and tummies were full from a good breakfast at Lloyd's as we headed for the carpool point in La Cañada. I was surprised to see the bunch of seasoned HPS'ers such as Bobcat Thompson, Jim and "Sheena" Fleming, Cathy Thody, Bridgette O'Sullivan, Georgina Burns, Harriet Edwards, Mike Baldwin and Sandy Houston plus about 40 others raring to conquer the wilds of historic Mount Hillyer. I announced a change in the scheduled hike; adding some other peaks and making Hillyer a car shuttle from the top, with a picnic at the bottom. Everyone gathered their party goodies, boots and sunscreen and we headed for the Visitors Center at Chilao, where we left several cars full of the party goodies, had a break and did a final carpool change for the trip to the trailhead.
The birds were singing and butterflies winging as we headed up the maintained trail at 10:30AM to the summit.
Along the way we were able to show some of the new hikers, and some others as well, a blossoming example of the dreaded poodle-dog plant; it's really quite lovely with a small lavender trumpet-shaped flower growing up a stalk covered with spiked, knife-like leaves. But this plant is far worse for those sensitive to it than poison oak. I know of at least one HPS'er (Dottie) who took about six weeks to recover from a bout with it after the Ortega's - she was understandably pleased to hear of a recent fire there.
We quickly reached the summit in a half hour, after a mighty 200 foot gain. We all scrambled up the "summit block" and signed the Register. There was time for more socializing and frisbee tossing and some soap bubbles wafting through the air. This was the very first peak for five people and the very first hike of several more. I hope they join us again and again in the future.
On one of our stops, Louie was able to furnish the group with some history about the area and how Vasquez used Chilao for his headquarters while he was (1) off fighting for freedom and reunification with Mexico (Latino version), or (2) shooting; pillaging; rustlin', theivin' horses; chasing saloon-girls an' raisin' a ghawd-awful ruckus (official version).
The trail was clear and clean, the sun was moderate and a slight breeze rustled the trees and brush, keeping the temperature pleasant. The boulders on the trail would make a great place to play and snoop around in; the temptation was strong, but we stayed on the trail. We breezed past Horse Flats and reached Chilao Campground again at 12:15PM. We all walked a short distance to a group campsite and everybody arranged the picnic lunch and kicked back for a bit, socializing and enjoying the good company we always seem to have on an HPS hike. Ron Chenaud decided to sign out as usual and led a group of five of his friends to Vetter, where we again met them.
After lunch we gathered the drivers together and headed to the trailhead to get the cars and returned to pick up passengers many of whom waited inside the Visitor Center examining the old CCC relief map of the Angeles, and enjoying the exhibits. A Ranger gave a short talk on the area, but seemed a bit crestfallen when we all knew the answers to his questions.
We then drove to mighty Mount Mooney, which we reached in about ten minutes. We took the graded dirt road to the trailhead and those of us who chose to hike the peak started up the trail, which has plenty of room for a nice chat with your neighbor while you walk; since the summit is only 250 feet up we were quickly there and enjoyed the view. I noticed that Sam Fink had been here recently (his 35th time), we jumped back in the cars and drove across the Angeles Crest Highway to Vetter and managed to lose a car in Charlton Flats but we all found each other again. Up, up, up we trekked another 300 feet of gain to the summit of Vetter Lookout. We enjoyed the view of our next planned peak, Mt Sally, but nobody wanted to finish it that day. So I managed to finish my Leadership hike at 3:30PM to a bit of slightly prompted applause and a big hug from Bobcat.
Nobody got permanently lost, no injuries, a great party lunch and lots of newcomers who wanted to do more of this kind of low-stress HPS hiking in the future. It was such fun, we just may have to do more in future months.
Thanks to my able sweep and new hubby Louie; I couldn't have done it without his patience, consideration, knowledge, love and support; nor could I have done it without the good humor and backing of all those who joined us on this great day of hiking and picnicking.
Oh yes, I almost forgot, it was a really beautiful and memorable day. What a great way to start out as a leader!
Not bad, if I do say so myself. Yessir folks, that's my baby now!