There is encouraging news (posted Saturday Nov 15 at 2pm) from Cleveland
National Forest on their forest closure.
It seems that only two areas --
but very large areas!! -- are closed to public entry due to the fire
damage: a Cedar Fire Closure Area in the southern portion of San Diego
Co and a Paradise Fire Closure Area near Mt Palomar. I find the maps of
the closure areas very helpful. A key point that "most areas of the
Forest are open to public entry" is buried in the end notes.
This news arrived too late for Sunday's planned outing to five Orange
County peaks. Instead, we first visited Mt Russell (2704') on the Great
Lower Peaks List. The peak is found in Moreno Valley at Lake Perris
State Recreational Park. We followed the route as described in the LPC
peak guides, which has an interesting feature: about half of the 5 miles
round trip involves skirting the northern shores of Lake Perris and its
marshlands. At this time the mountain has only sparse brush due to
wildfires in the past few years. The register is found near the long
pipe at the foot of the summit rock table. Our only company was a
self-described rabbit hunter, complete with impressive rifle, who shared
the flatlands with us.
Three nearby HPS peaks were then "conquered" in the afternoon. First,
Rouse Hill with its 14 miles of ever-so-slow-and-will-this-never-end 4wd
road. Second, Thomas Mtn, which we ascended on a pleasant short climb
from the abandoned Thomas Mtn Campground on the north side through 1-2
inches of newly fallen powder snow, shared with various and sundry snow
bunnies from the burbs. And finally Indian Mtn via the dreaded tunnels
of paint-devouring buckthorn on a road suitable now for motorcycle
The leaders Tom Hill and Virgil Popescu were joined under friendly skies
by a pleasant group of companions James Carden, Janet Howell, Larry
Hoak, and Ingeborg Prochazka.