San Sevaine Lookout, Northeast ridge
San Sevaine Lookout is the eastern terminus of the +5000 foot elevation of the San Gabriel Mountains. San Sevaine is traditionally climbed from the San Sevaine Fire road. This route is 8 plus mile rough road drive up for a little 2.5 mile hike. In 2004 a fire blazed through the region and the road was closed by the San Bernardino National Forest. So access to this peak has been troublesome especially for the Hundred Peaks Section of the Sierra Club that has Sevaine listed. Personally I have wanted to hike this peak for a long time. In 2005 I had the opportunity to take part in a botanical collecting trip to nearby San Sevaine Flats. A beautiful area rich in cedars and black oak that escaped the fires. Though I was at the trailhead for the short hike to San Sevaine Lookout I did not have permission from work to go tramping off outside of our study area. The road is still closed and I have been looking for alternative routes other then hiking the long boring road. I decided on hiking the northeast ridgeline from the Lytle Creek. On topo there is a firebreak that descends the upper portion of that ridge, so I was hoping to hike from the bottom through brush and join up with the firebreak. The stats on the route look to be 2600 feet of gain with 4 miles round trip.
I had hopes that the notorious brush of the northeastern San Gabriels might still be open from the 2004 fires. From the get go the hike was a steep brush feast. First I had to cross the very low Lytle Creek and ascend a class 2 brushy slope. Some brush is better then others. This region though is made up mostly of Whitethorn, ceanothus. I gained the first ridge and dove deep into the whitethorn intermixed with jagged chemise stumps. I gained the next ridge and was already feeling my saturation point with thousands of pinpricks all over my body. For a short respite the ridge opened with small yerba and was quick to gain the top of the ridge to the base of the firebreak.
At the saddle for the firebreak was a dense sea of 4 foot high Whitethorn, perfect groin height. And that firebreak on the topo, well that doesn't exist so much anymore. I took stock of the situation and continued for another couple or so hundred feet cussing and bashing at plants as my flesh was repeatedly torn. Once again I had reached a breaking point in this region of my home range. I sat down, brush the ticks and thorns off my legs, I made it about halfway up and decided to return home. Pissed off again for being turned around because of WHITETHORN! The return was eventful as I tripped over and over again, into sharp sticks and crumbling rocks faces. Finally made it down.
Penstock Ridge 3080 feet
I sat in my car and drank some fluids and looked at my topo. Opposite of San Sevaine is a ridge named Penstock Ridge
. It looked nice from Sevaine so I decided to hike up it's well maintained fire road. The route is three miles roundtrip with 700 feet of gain. The ridge had nice views of the Lytle Creek region and provided me with some great pictures of the northeast slope of San Sevaine.
Next time I will either start on the Rancho Cucamonga side or just mountain bike the San Sevaine fire road. I really want this peak now more then before. I love old lookout sites. Oh well, its Christmas Eve and I have family and friends to get drunk with.