December 19, 2011

Photo Essay: Mt. Lowe's Inspiration Point to Altadena

A couple of weekends ago, I managed to rise at an ungodly hour to join a rare caravan up Mt. Lowe to the site of the old Alpine Tavern, the end of the line of the old Mt. Lowe Railway trolley. (I'd been fascinated with this site since I'd hiked up to Echo Mountain, the end of the line for the Mt. Lowe Incline Railway, and the transfer point to the trolley.) 

It was a somewhat harrowing trip just days after a record-breaking windstorm ravaged the LA area, including the Angeles National Forest and the towns along its foothills. As it is, that area of Angeles National Forest is still recovering from the 2009 Station Fire which tore through a huge area which still recovers from it.

But what I didn't realize, on our way up to Mt. Lowe Camp, sitting on the passenger side, mostly facing the mountain, was that the trip down would be ever so much more harrowing, sitting on the passenger side, mostly facing the canyon.

Up at Inspiration Point, the highest we got that day, with Mt. Wilson in our sights, the wind was still whipping around our heads and through our teeth... we teetered along the trail...

 ...and around Eagle Rock.

As we drove down the Mt. Lowe Railway's old right-of-way, it was easy to imagine the perils passengers faced as the trolley traveled a tightrope track around the mountain—and hard to imagine it crossing a bridge that traversed the mouth of the canyon.

In the video above, you can experience the descent for yourself, as documented by me from the passenger side backseat of a large, rugged truck that dragged debris it caught under its tires, scraped against the side-of-road overgrowth, but couldn't quite get past a downed tree without stopping and moving it. 

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