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Josephine Peak

31 May 1998 (West Ridge)

By: Erik Siering

I joined Harriet Edwards for her fine HPS finish party on Josephine Pk (congratulations!). A car shuttle gave me the opportunity to saunter up the trailess west side, rather than suffer the tedious fire road route with the group. This rarely visited ridge line appears daunting, featuring a sheer rocky southern flank and densely brush blanketed slopes to the north. Ann Kramer did the shuttle duty before joining the others, dropping me off on Angeles Forest Highway several miles from Clear Creek Junction. The crux of the route is the starting point, as the ridge terminates abruptly at the highway in loose crumbling hillsides, aka cliffs. Runout to the pavement and traffic below is unappealing. The best approach is a tree-shaded drainage at the 22.45 mile marker, just north of the base of the ridge. A parking turnout is located across the highway.

Head up this drainage from a culvert which is decorated by green graffiti, and approach an intermittent waterfall. The waterfall was flowing freely due to recent storms. Carefully scramble to the right, on class 2 dirt and decaying rock, for about a hundred vertical feet to better footing. From here, another 500' gain along the subsidiary rib leads to the relatively bare main ridge that is visible above. This comprises the only steep stretch and appreciable brush on the route. The latter is made readily passable by game trails.

The ridge line offers grand views south towards the forest highways and city basin, and north to the Mt Gleason massif, the Tujunga Dam and Narrows. Power lines cross several hundred feet below. The route hereon simply follows the grassy break to the distant summit (apparent by the radio repeater and antenna), wending over or around occasional rock outcroppings. Dense stands of short "poodle dog" evidence past activity of fire.

The fire road is encountered 50' before the summit. Follow it or continue straight on to the top, completing 2.5 miles and 2400' gain. Here I found Minor White comfortably napping amidst a swarm of ladybugs, in anticipation of our group. Harriet and her festive band arrived shortly, and we then set on the foremost task of heavy noshing and imbibing bubbly!

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