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Lookout Mountain #2, Sunset Peak

13 December 1998

By: Joe Young


Leaders: Joe Young, Maggie Wilson

Eight hikers met at the Mt Baldy rideshare point at 7:00 am this morning under clear skies with cool temps. Allowing for latecomers, we left in three vehicles for Cow Canyon saddle. The hike of Lookout started at 8:00 am.

A trailer park is under construction at the base of the climb of Lookout. It does not appear that this poses a threat to access to this peak at this time.

Temps remained cool as Joe led the group up route 1 to the summit. The guide was accurate. We arrived on the summit shortly after 10:15, having taken one prolonged rest break en route. The excellent visibility enabled us to see the ocean, Santa Catalina Island and even San Clemente Island.

Once on the summit Joe and Emmanuel Molina pointed out the historic significance of this peak. In the 1920's, Caltech physicist A. A. Michelson and others attempted to measure the speed of light, and to prove, or disprove, the existence of a "luminescent ether", a medium through which light was believed to travel. This experiment consisted of a rapidly rotating eight-sided mirror, onto which a beam of light was projected, on the summit of Mt Wilson, and projecting the beam from the spinning mirror towards a parabolic mirror constructed on the summit of Lookout, 22.1 miles from Mt Wilson. The beam was then reflected back to the rotating mirror on Mt Wilson. The scientists were unable to confirm the existence of a "luminescent ether", but were able to establish the speed of light to be 186,000 miles per second.

All that remains on Lookout Mtn are three concrete foundations which supported the parabolic mirror. Several in our group today inspected the concrete foundations, and observed that they lined up with a view to the summit of Mt Wilson.

A few minutes before 11:00 we left the summit, and, retracing our steps, returned to the cars at Cow Canyon saddle just after noon. Two participants checked out. About 20 minutes later we headed off for Sunset, ascending via the firebreak.

Joe led the six remaining hikers up the steep fire break, now almost overgrown in many places. We arrived on the summit of Sunset at about 1:45 pm. Staying just ten minutes on the summit, Maggie led down the road: We felt it would be easier on our knees to take the road down. We arrived at the cars at 3:15 pm.

Thanks to Maggie for assisting on this outing.

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