Better Than the Sunday Paper
There is nothing so refreshing as escaping the warm confines of the Los Angeles basin to enjoy a hike in the high country of the local mountains. Today, the day spawned as a beautiful, crisp October Sunday morning, the kind that can’t be frittered away reading the Sunday paper or cleaning out the rain gutters (the spouse may disagree with the latter point).
Our small group’s destination was Twin Peaks (7,761’ elev.) and Waterman Mountain (8,038’) in the San Gabriel Mountains’ high country. Just an hour up the Angeles Crest Highway from La Canada and we were at the Buckhorn trailhead.
The Enticement of Triplet Rocks
The trail from Buckhorn is nicely maintained and of moderate steepness to the junction with the trail to Waterman Mountain. Well before this point, the higher of the Twin Peaks summits, East Twin, had come into view and stayed there. As pleasing to the eye as the shape of East Twin is, what really grabbed my attention, almost compulsively, was the ridge that sweeps east from East Twin and that is adorned by a small peak with 3 summit blocks on it, known appropriately as Triplet Rocks.
Triplet Rocks on the east ridge from East Twin
Another view of Triplet Rocks on the trail from Buckhorn trailhead
According to one source, Triplet Rocks is the hardest place to get to in the entire San Gabriel range. The route does look gnarly. Someone in our group recounted hearsay that, for scramblers in good shape, it takes about 4 hours to reach Triplet Rocks from the summit of East Twin, assuming the challenging route-finding, including bushwhacking, is done efficiently. The route is reportedly 3d class with volumes of loose rock. I couldn’t stop staring at the Triplet Rocks ridge while it was in view. It was like eye candy to the hiker/climber who likes routes off the beaten path. It’s now on my to-do list.
Down to Twin Peaks Saddle and up the North Face to East Twin
We continued past the junction with the trail to Waterman and started dropping steadily towards Twin Peaks Saddle. It was a little disheartening to glance into the chasm between our trail and Twin Peaks on our left and realize that we had to bottom out at the saddle and then climb back up 1,000 feet to the summit of East Twin. But hey, it wouldn’t be enjoyable if it was too easy.
The descent seemed endless but we finally got to the signed Twin Peaks Saddle. The trail up the north face of Twin Peaks is steep and more heavily cairned than it needs to be. But if you get off trail near the top, be sure and veer left to top out at the highest point, East Twin. There is a register on the summit and great views all the way around.
The Easy Jaunt to Waterman Mountain
We made quick work of the descent from the summit of East Twin back to the saddle. Now it was time to climb back to the junction where we would pick up the ¾ mile trail to the summit of Waterman Mountain. The trail to Waterman is quite moderate and you are at the top in no time. Even though almost 300 feet higher, this summit is rather mundane compared with Twin Peaks.
The hike back to the cars was quick and clean. We had done about 10 miles with 3,200 feet of gain. We had been out less than 6 hours, not enough time to get beat up or fatigued. The scent of the pines and the shadows of the early afternoon made for pleasurable sensations on the hike down. This would instill in me a little extra patience for the tail-gating vehicles and motorcycles one is bound to encounter driving back down the Angeles Crest Highway on a Sunday afternoon. Oh well, you can’t have everything.