Jungle in the San Gabriels
Early May 2009 and we were out in the canyons again:
If you live in Los Angeles, you know we live in a desert. I imagine everyone who doesn’t live here is pretty much aware of this fact too. There are certain places in the mountains surrounding LA which really seem more like a jungle, and Josephine creek is one of those, at least at this time of the year.
Josephine Creek is a nice short canyon, taking about 3 hours if you are not in a hurry, with a 650 foot drop all together, which you then hike back up at the end. This was perfect for Dennis and myself on Saturday since I didn’t feel like getting up early. I’d also been hearing other people talk about dropping in to the canyon through a drainpipe, so I wanted to try that as well, instead of walking down the scree slope which is the alternate entry. The only pipe I knew of was a 3 foot wide one which dropped down off the side of the road by the scree slope, so we found a sign to wrap the rope off, extended my pack off my harness below my feet and I squeezed my way into the pipe and started down. It was all working well, although I was wondering why anyone would take this narrow pipe instead of walking down the scree, when the pipe opened up into a ten foot wide drainage pipe and I realized I hadn’t been in the right place to start off with. When I stood in the huge new pipe and looked right beside me there was an anchor all set right there. Feeling a little foolish I sent Dennis to the other side of the road to drop into the real entrance while I pulled the rope through the small pipe I had initially come down and setup up the rappell off the correct anchor. The pipe is actually walkable, although steep, and it is probably 140 feet of rappelling from the anchor so down we went.
There are a 3 rappels on this canyon, and lots of poison oak to avoid. Once you are well into the canyon proper you start finding the parts which feel like a jungle. Lots of ferns and pools of cool water and thick trees, and you feel as though you are somewhere in South America. The first rappel is a short one, probably 25 feet or so into a kneedeep pool of water. The next rappel is around 50 feet down into a fern shrouded pool about 8 inches deep at the moment. Dodging poison oak for another 100 feet or so and you reach the real payoff of this canyon, which is the 180 foot rappel to the base of the canyon. Dennis and I took a few minutes at the top of this one to just relax and enjoy the view. Then we rappeled into the waterfall which is very wet right now. Coming off the edge and looking down there was a brilliant rainbow right at my feet. Rappelling further into the waterfall and looking toward the cliff I was surrounded by a full circle of rainbow. Apparently I was right inside the pot of gold, although I didn’t find anything. Anyhow, it was a little too wet to hang around there for long so I finished off the rappel and got the camera back out.
After taking the our gear off we followed the path along the left side of the creek and wound our way back up to Lower Big Tujunga Road, where we were parked amid the wildflowers. We changed into dry clothes and headed back to LA.
Another wonderful day in the mountains.