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Iron Mountain #2, Condor Peak, Mount Gleason

27 April 1996

By: Charlie Knapke

Leaders: Charlie Knapke & Frank Goodykoontz

The weather forecast was hot, hot, hot. About a dozen people showed up in La Cañada anyway. Maybe it was the fog and cool air at the meeting place that created this optimism. I wasn't impressed though. I knew the weather forecasters couldn't be this far off.

We drove up to Mill Creek Summit where we regrouped at the trip's last civilized ladies room. We then drove out the Mount Gleason road toward our starting point. Along the way, I spotted a mountain lion along the road. This was very interesting since it was very close to the spot where I had spotted one about three years ago. Could it be the same one?

We passed Lightning Point and continued out to the locked gate on the road out to Indian Ben Saddle. This gate was erected several years ago adding some distance to the peaks in this area.

It was already warm as we headed east down the road. We paused for a break at Indian Ben Saddle. Two roads used to meet at this point. One of these led out toward the North Fork Saddle Station. This has been designated an official trail. Another trail now leaves this point toward Messenger Flats. This is now the upper portion of the Trail Canyon Trail. Someone's thermometer read 93° and it wasn't even 9 a.m!

We continued up to Iron Mountain. There was no register. After a short break we headed off for Condor Peak. As we dropped below the main ridge we lost what breeze we had enjoyed at Indian Ben. Now it was really hot! Frank & I watched carefully for anyone having trouble with the heat. Aside from some grumbling they did great. By noon we were on Condor Peak.

Barbara Cohen & I had led WTC groups up Condor Peak several times and there had always been some brushy areas along the road below Condor. This brush is gone. Someone (possibly the Wednesday Hikers) has brushed out the road from the water tank at least as far as the saddle southeast of Condor.

The hardest part of the hike was the return to the cars. As we passed the water tank we met a hiker going the other way. Frank talked to him and found that he had showed up at the rideshare point too late to join us. He did not know which trailhead we were going to use and guessed Trail Canyon. Not finding us there he hiked up Trail Canyon alone. That had to be hot!

For us it was a hot uphill hike along the road along the last segment to the cars. Frank wanted to lead Gleason on the way back. He said he needed to lead it! This implies that he is working on his FOURTH LIST LEAD! There was register on Gleason (no surprise).

On the drive back out to Mill Creek Summit I took the lead and watched for the mountain lion. Incredibly enough we saw it again! I have heard that some small mammals like to hang around paved roads because they stay warm after the sun sets. This attracts predators to the same area. Could this lion be living off road-rabbits? The Mount Gleason is one of the least traveled PAVED roads in the San Gabriel Mountains. It seems to fit the theory but I'm no expert.

Frank was, as always, an excellent assistant.

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