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I originally perused the HPS list for an easy peak that could be done with kids near the town of Valencia where I was staying for the Christmas holiday. Not finding one that was less than an hour's drive, I switched to the LPC list and found Jupiter Mountain about 20 miles NE of town. I found a few trip reports and guessed where the easiest trailhead should be based on that - about 3mi roundtrip and 1,000ft of gain. It would do.
We had seven in the van when we drove off around 11:30a. I had a mix of relatives including a brother, my son, my wife, and two nephews, with a neighbor kid thrown into the mix for good luck. The road was long and winding, but fortunately no one got car sick driving up Bouquet Canyon to Bouquet Reservoir. It was a pretty drive through a typical SoCal rural canyon - seasonally dry creek, oak trees and riparian vegetation along the creek, chaparral on the canyon sides, rural homes of varying stages of dilapidation along the roadside.
Past the reservoir we turned left onto Spunky Road (gotta love that name) and drove up to a saddle NE of Jupiter Mountain. A country road crew with huge tractor machinery were unloading and manuevering their equipment in the very parking lot we had planned to use. At first we wondered if there was a fire or other emergency, but by the inactivity exhibited and the lack of smoke, it was soon evident that there was no danger. We parked alongside the road a short distance from the parking lot and learned that the crew was setting up to do some clearing of for a fire break.
We found the trail on the west side of the road through a gate. There was a fork in the first hundred yards where we took the more used fork heading west (our descent came down the other fork). This we followed for a quarter mile until another fork. A simple fiberglass wand signed for No Motor Vehicles was all that marked the left fork. I guessed correctly that it ought to be the trail to the summit and we all headed up that way. I took up the rear with brother Ron and my 10yr-old Ryan. Ryan was dragging behind the others who were zipping up the trail without taking a break. At the saddle between the two summit, the others had stopped to wait for the navigator (me). The west summit was well over a mile to the west and they weren't looking too happy to start off on the undulating fire break heading off that direction. There was some relief when I pointed left to the higher (not obvious) east summit, only a few hundred yards up.
It took all of 45 minutes to get all seven us to the top - success. There was even a summit register (the kids were impressed that it went back all the way back to 2004. I didn't say anything to deflate the moment or expectations). We signed in, took a few group photographs and took in the views. I pointed out the nearby HPS summits of Liebre, Burnt, and Sawtooth that I had climbed with Matthew almost two years earlier. An incoming storm left the skies overcast and hazy, obscuring the views some. But at least it wasn't too warm as it might have been a day earlier.
Upon the descent, I suggested we might be able to make a loop of our outing by heading east off the top. I wasn't sure it would joing back up at the trailhead, but it looked to go in the general direction. The route was much more direct and therefore quite a bit steeper - there was much slipping and falling on the way down, particularly by the younger ones, but no blood was spilled and the worst we got was some extra dirt ground into our pants. Ryan, who had been lagging on the way up, was out in front all the way down. He had done enough hiking on such terrain to make pretty quick work of the downhill without a single slip. That helped boost his bruised ego (it was hard having his cousins outdo him on the ascent). The route fortunately went where I had guessed, and we were down in 30 minutes - a good outing for the kids!
This page last updated: Tue Jan 19 11:29:42 2010
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