July 9, 2013

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Back in early May we re-visited Mt Islip, a hike that we failed to summit on our first attempt last year due to snow and ice on the trail. Mt. Islip is actually in a really nice area of the San Gabriels so we were glad to have a second chance at it. This time we tried a different route, from the south at Crystal Lake (rather than from the north from the Angeles Crest Highway). We always like to take a new route when we repeat a hike if possible, and the southern approach is longer and requires more elevation gain, so it was a good conditioning hike (7 miles, 2200′ gain). It was a very cold and foggy day, similar to the weather on our first attempt, but this time there was no snow so we started up the quiet trail.

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Low fog hung just a few hundred feet above us so even with the elevation gain we were about to attempt, it was obvious the view was not going to spectacular.  

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The trail is like most higher altitude Angeles forest trails where the plants struggle to survive.  The granite gravel soil arid weather, and occasional fires keeps the vegetation to a minimum.  Today the cold winds pummeled us against the mountain causing us to wear all of our layers of clothes along with hats, gloves and ski masks.  

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We were able to witness a phenomenon that we’ve heard of, but never seen before – in the extremely foggy air, the evergreen needles collected enough moisture to cause rather significant showers behind (downwind) of each tree. The process was efficient and pretty amazing to watch, but actually managed to get us quite wet.

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At the higher altitudes, the condensation was actually freezing on the trees and then would get blown off the trees, causing small showers of ice shards.

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We finally made it to the top and like most trails in LA, even though we didn’t see many people on the trail, there was a huge crowd at the peak! 

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Although the weather was miserable and the views were non-existent, we were glad to summit and check this one off our list!