6.10.11 – millard campground to (almost) tom sloane saddle

My friend Victor and I got out to Millard Canyon today, with the hope of hitting at least Tom Sloane Saddle or ultimately Switzer Falls via Bear Canyon. We began our hike up the short .8 mile trail to the Mt Lowe Fire Road. From there, we went up, up, and up! The road is quite steep up to about 3 miles or so up, basically to Cape of Good Hope. We maintained a 3mph pace or so, up to the Cape, and took a momentary break to catch our breaths. As we continued up the fire road, the marine layer dropped below us and we had a splendid view of the cloud tops. Also of note was that we both noticed brand new placards placed in the burned Mt Lowe Railroad display boxes. Thanks to the volunteers that maintain these boxes, they are appreciated!
We continued on, ultimately reaching and resting at Mt Lowe Campground for a short duration. Around this area, the black flies became ruthless! I guess it’s June in the San Gabes 😦 I took down some Hammer Gels and appreciated the time we were making.
And onward, we went… on the fire road. We went towards Inspiration Point and then the road turned left and headed straight west. We came across a good amount of new bear tracks – its good to see the wildlife thriving in this very burned area! Finally, after about 8 miles or so, we hit what I like to call “pre-Tom Sloane Saddle.” Basically its a helipad that features a trail that leads to Tom Sloane Saddle. This is not TSS though – that is another mile down. We followed that foot trail down towards Tom Sloane, but the trail was really rough and overgrown. Victor and I agreed that its been awhile since anyone has gone down this trail. It cleared up after the first tenth of a mile or so and we were able to get to within about half a mile of the saddle before the trail became extremely overgrown and heavily eroded. This, in conjunction with a previously scheduled engagement for Victor, led us to call it a day. We took some pics of the beautiful Bear Canyon area and began the long walk home. This is still a hike I’d love to do, but next time I’m bringing my garden clippers and rake!

Duration: 7:32:00
Distance: 18 miles
Elevation gain: 4,251′
Temperature: 70′s and sunny
Terrain: paved and dirt road from millard all the way up to the tom sloane saddle pre-saddle. from there, the trail is pretty beat up.
GPS log
Calories burned: 4,052
Water consumed: 3L + .5L of electrolytes
Calories consumed: 1300
Food consumed: 10 Hammer Gels
Electrolytes consumed: 16 oz. of Melon HEED, Crystal Lite, and Perpetuem

Gear specs:
Backpack: rei flash 30
Shoes: salomon quest 4d’s
trekking poles: black diamond contour ellipticals

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Posted on June 10, 2011, in hiking and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. You guys are wusses. Cali and I went over TSS 2 weeks ago, and I daresay that the path you followed through the overgrown bushwacking sections was made by us. Did you encounter the 2 separate swarms of bees that seems to have hives built beneath the “trail”? They are part of the reason we did not turn back after we realized this was going to be an epic hike to Dawn Mine.

    And it was – the trail down from TSS got worse and worse, often times disappearing all together. We got rim rocked a couple of times, had sketchy stream crossings complete with disintegrating footholds above 10 foot fall potentials, no GPS signal down in the canyon and then finally a 4 mile run to ensure the car was not locked in the Millard Campground lot! Running balls out for 4 miles with a full pack after 10 hours on the trail kinda sucked! My legs are still a disaster off scrapes and rashes!

  2. Great to check out your blog after meeting you at the store today. We haven’t blogged about them yet, but we do quite a few hikes in the area and would be happy to compare stories.

  3. On Saturday July 2, 2011 I did a run from Lake Ave. and up to Mt. Lowe and San Gabriel Peak. On the way up, I decided to check out the lower trail that heads out to the Tom Sloan Saddle from the Mt. Lowe fire road, and then head back to the fire road along the upper trail to the helipad. The lower trail started out “ok” but got progressively worse as you got closer to the saddle — very overgrown, fallen rock and trees, washouts, you name it. At that point my run turned into a slow bushwack. It’s going to take a lot of work to repair that trail! The upper trail from the saddle back to the Mt. Lowe Fire Road, was better and I could actually run most of it. The worst part was all the purple Poodle Dog bush that was growing on and around the trail. I’m still itching from it and it’s now Tuesday.

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