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[pct-l] Bears and trip report

Tom wrote: I was in the Sierra this weekend. The bears and mosquitoes are

I saw my first bear in the wild this weekend and it was here in L.A.!!

I camped at Heaton Flats (East Fork, San Gabriel River, above Azusa) on
Friday night. Saturday morning went from there up past the Bridge to
Nowhere, wasted about an hour and a half trying to find the
Stanley-Miller mine, then headed up river towards Mine Gulch campsite.
After hours of miserable bushwhacking, I finally had to quit as it was
getting dark (and the "trail" was hard enough to follow in the light) so
found a nice place along the river to camp. 

Continuing on Sunday morning, I reached Mine Gulch in about 15 minutes,
passed a group of what looked like Girl Scouts camped near there and
headed up Vincent Gulch to Vincent Gap. From there I went up the PCT to
Baden-Powell, saw that a few PCTers had signed in over the last few days
but didn't see any of them.On the way over to Little Jimmy Campground on
the PCT, I met Nona (sp?) and her husband, we recognized each other from
ADZ a month ago, they had hiked up from Crystal Lake. After dinner I
talked with some section hikers and then went up Mt. Islip to catch the
sunset. Just as I was getting ready to go to bed (about 10:00 or so) I
saw 3 hikers with headlights come into camp and stop. I talked with them
and found out that they were thru hikers and they had just missed the
turn and came into the campsite instead of staying on the PCT. It was
Fletch, Hey Dude (I think) and I don't remember the 3rd one's name. They
were planning on continuing on for a while yet so I showed them where
they had missed the trail and off they went.

On Monday I went down the Islip Ridge Trail to Crystal Lake, hitchhiked
back to my car, drove to Lower Bear Creek trail head and parked (along
with about a million people enjoying the river), hitchhiked back up to
Upper Bear Creek trail head and then started to hike back down Bear Creek
Trail to my car. They have done a lot of maintenance on the trail since
we hiked it about 2 weeks ago, the section just before the creek was
really bad, now it is completely reworked. After getting to the creek and
cooling my feet in the water for awhile, I was just about ready to head
down the lower trail and saw a young couple just getting to the creek
They had been moving quite slow going up the trail to Smith Saddle (it
was the 2nd time she had been hiking) and were planning to hike down the
lower trail. They had never done it before and didn't have a light. I was
afraid they wouldn't make it before dark because they were going slow and
it is a difficult trail to follow, so I offered to wait for them and show
them the way, as well as give them a ride back up to their car at the
upper trail head. We were about 1 1/2 miles from the bottom and came
around a curve and there was a brown bear standing right in the trail,
maybe 30 feet from us!!! As I was trying to gather my wits and look for
something to grab - sticks or stones - it went running off ahead of us on
the trail, leaving a very strong and distinctive odor! It happened so
quick I only had time to start to panic! Then I wished we would have been
quiet and maybe could have gotten a picture of it. We followed it's
tracks (and smell) on the trail for a few hundred yards but never saw it

All in all, it was a nice weekend of hiking, about 45 miles (40 of it
enjoyable!) and very appropriate to see my first bear at Bear Creek!

I'm planning a backpacking trip for the 15th and 16th of June, up the
middle fork of Lytle Creek to Icehouse Saddle, across the 3 "T's" to
Baldy and back down the same way. I think it is about 26 miles RT. This
is the same hike we attempted in December but had to abort due to icy
trails and no crampons or ice axes. Please let me know if you are

Vic Hanson
(310) 787-7245

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