Friendly Valley, CA
Explorer | 31 pts
There's a reason they call this "The Beast." It's a 4.5 mile climb with little cover. Wouldn't recommend it during the summer, but it's great right now.
Left about 9:30 Monday morning on a perfect SoCal winter day. Clear skies, no wind and warm enough for shirt sleeves.
The trail was still damp (but not muddy) from the recent rains, so traction was good.
The views across the Santa Clarita Valley were spectacular on the way up. A few patches of snow were still visibile on the peaks to the north.
Last month's Sayre Fire stripped the hillsides bare. The most recognizable vegetation are some manzanita bushes that somehow kept their leaves.
Grass is sprouting in places, but otherwise it's still a moonscape.
The view from the top was unbelievable. We circled the radio towers at the summit to take in the panorama.
Looking south, the whole of the San Fernando Valley lay before us. You could follow the 405 over the Sepulveda Pass and see a container ship anchored in the Santa Monica Bay. The headlands of the Palos Verdes Peninsula loomed beyond. Further east, the Downtown L.A. skyline poked above the hills of Griffith Park.
It all felt calm and quiet from our distant perch until a plane or helicopter buzzed overhead. They looked close enough to touch.
The trail seemed busy for a Monday, probably because it's a holiday week. We passed two equestrians, a handful of mountain bikers, and a couple walking their dog.
Pay attention on the way down. It's a steep grade and you don't have much time to yield to the mountain bikes.
The beast can be conquered. It's worth the fight to take in the views.