10 November 2014

Yet Another Ramble in the Hills Above Carbon Canyon

Here's a pretty view looking northwest from a 15+ acre parcel off Carbon Canyon Road.  Not only can the remnant of the Ski Villa slope and part of Sleepy Hollow be discerned, but over the canyon ridges in the distance are hills far to the west.  Click on this or any other image to see a slide show of all the views from this post, shown in enlarged views.
Last Friday, another jaunt in the Carbon Canyon area took place with a longtime resident who has hiked the canyon for over forty years and knows it as well as anyone.

A nice zoomed-in view looking towards Mt. Baldy, Ontario Peak and Cucamonga Peak in the San Gabriel Range.
Actually, the morning started with a visit to a 15-acre property east of Sleepy Hollow where a short walk to one of the higher elevations on the parcel provided some very nice views of the canyon.

The view down the Ski Villa slope remnant, looking towards the horse and cattle ranch that contained much of the former Camp Kinder Ring buildings and looking towards the southeast.
After that, a trek was made up the remains of the slope from Ski Villa, the bizarre 1960s resort which, for all of a year, gave people the unique and unforgettable experience of skiing down the asphalt and concrete slope that was lined with plastic tiles topped by needles.

This was just one of many remnants of plastic tiles with projecting "needles" that constituted the skiing surface on the asphalt/concrete slope at Ski Villa.
If that sounds like loads of fun, imagine when people came down to the bottom, which curved to the right while most of the skiiers, unable to find enough traction, didn't.  In any case, there are still shards of these tiles scattered about and quite a few of the nails still embedded in the slope.

This was a two-room structure, including what appeared to be a bathroom in the foreground and probably sleeping quarters at the left of one of the Camp Kinder Ring cottages.
From the top of the slope, the hike headed to the north along what is the Canyon Hills subdivision site.  This 141-acre parcel is to contain 76 residences on about half of the site (the other half is to remain open space--presumably much of it manufactured slopes and so on) in a project approved by the county back in 1987, four years before the incorporation of Chino Hills.  Two years later, the tentative tract map was finalized, but the economy and the real estate market took a dive a few years later, so it wasn't until 1997 that the final map was recorded.

It's fairly easy to make out the name "Miriam" at the left and the "P" from her surname, as well as the date "7-19-46."
One of the archaic aspects of development law is that, even though that was nearly two decades ago, this project is fully entitled, even though conditions (more houses built in the canyon, increasing traffic, greater water use, long-term drought, etc.) have changed.

A pair of rock pilasters with crude cement caps flanking steps leading to a camp structure.  The hand print, name and date noted in other photos is on the left pilaster.
So, Forestar Homes, the current owner, has instigated initial utility work in terms of drainage system installation, but also intends to sell the property soon.  Obviously, there is no way to know when actual construction of the development might get done.  A Tract Home Design Review has not been submitted to the city's Planning Commission, which would be followed by an approval by the city of building construction plans.

Several shards (somewhat artfully arranged for this photo) of Fiesta Ware, a popular product from the 1930s through 1960s, dovetailing with the time Camp Kinder Ring was at the site.
For now, though, there have been some access roads cut through the property, berms built, drains installed and pipes laid, while much of the terrain is relatively undisturbed.  In fact, as was pointed out by the resident, whereas the south side of the canyon has had extensive cattle grazing on leased property, leading to a great deal of denuded landscape, this north side of the canyon has been left fundamentally intact, so there is much more plant material under and around the oak and walnut trees.

The entrance to a well-sited camp building, with one of the brick pilasters flanking the steps into the building toppled over.
Notably, there are also quite a few remains of some of the cabins and other structures that were built on the property when it was Camp Kinder Ring, a youth and, later, all ages, camp run by the Arbeter Ring, a left-leaning Jewish organization that owned the site from 1928 to 1958.  This blog has covered much of the history of the camp, noting that some of the buildings now part of the horse and cattle ranch on the east side of Canyon Hills Road are from the facility, as well as observing that the camp also extended to the west of the road.

A toppled-over chimney at a Camp Kinder Ring cottage site.
This was the first time, however, that this blogger has seen the remnants of camp buildings on the Canyon Hills tract site.  As accompanying photos show, there are several sites with remnants of walls, fireplaces, sidewalks, stairs, entrance posts and the like.  Some of these sites are along ridgelines with beautiful views of the canyon, the San Gabriel Mountains and so forth.

A bit of the rim of a modern piece of china located on one of the Camp Kinder Ring cottage locations.
In one prominent case, there was the remains of a structure that had two small stone pillars at the entrance.  On the concrete cap to the pillar on the right is still a hand print, a name (Miriam was the first name, but the surname [which starts with a "P"] is not fully discernible on the photos) and a date of 19 July 1946 that were imprinted on it.

A portion of one of the large building sites from the Camp Kinder Ring days.
Elsewhere, there was a large site that still had portions of walls made of hollow tile (also known as structural clay tile), a clay building material that was mainly used in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but which has not been common for many decades.

A remnant of a wall made of hollow tile (structural clay tile) from one of the Camp Kinder Ring structures--likely built around the 1940s or earlier.
There was even, in a depression beneath one of the building sites, the rusted-out remains of an old vehicle.  Elsewhere, pieces of what looked like Fiesta Ware plates, which were very popular from the 1930s through the 1960s, consistent with the years Camp Kinder Ring was on site, were located, as were fragments of modern china.

Here's an example of a road gouged through the Canyon Hills parcel.
Evidently, documentation of the site, according to the resident guide, regarding its long history as Camp Kinder Ring was not adequately done during the environmental impact report's completion.  Then again, under the county's jurisdiction in the 1980s that standards were, let's just say, different.  Consequently, there was no requirement to recognize the site's history as part of the planning process for Canyon Hills.  It would be nice to think that, with a future buyer, the city might ask that something be done to remember the history of both Camp Kinder Ring, as well as Ski Villa.

An example of a drain and berm installed on a crudely-cut access road on the project site.
For example, the entrance to the gated community could have a plaque or two commemorating the camp and Ski Villa.  This would be a low-cost way to mark the history of the area and would be a minimal gesture.

A fine view looking southwest towards Sleepy Hollow past the chapparal on a largely undisturbed portion of the Canyon Hills site.
The development of the Canyon Hills site means the razing of the ski slope, the destruction of huge numbers of oak and walnut trees and other plant life, as well as the removal of wood rat nests, which would affect the owls that prey on them, and the obliteration of the many remnants of Camp Kinder Ring buildings that dot the site.

A nice view to the southwest of the Canyon Hills site.  Just above the ridge-line is a little speck--this was a hawk soaring in the sky.
It may yet be several years before construction would start on the 76 homes planned there, though. If An economic downturn may come along (and, obviously, one is coming sooner or later) and constrict the housing market and forestall new development.  This could also happen due to the long-term drought we're experiencing--if it continues and leads to shortages and rationing.

One of dozens of wood rats' nests observed over the course of the hike.
Meantime, there is still a functional oak and walnut woodland complex, many remnants of Camp Kinder Ring buildings, fantastic views, the ugly ski slope scar, and the feeling that, if those 76 houses are built, another large chunk of Carbon Canyon will be gone and the area's transformation from a unique rural oasis amongst the relentless march of suburbia that much closer to realization.

A zoomed-in view at the far west edge of the project site showing the FEMA-grant generated fire break just over the fence and, in the distance, associated structures for the St. Joseph's Hill of Hope religious complex.
Moreover, just across Carbon Canyon Road is the 537-acre Hidden Oaks Country Club property, which proposed 107 units on the ridgelines between Carbon and Soquel canyons.  Somehow, the future residents there, as well as those in Canyon Hills and the Oak Tree Downs and Oak Tree Estates communities are supposed to drive down to Carbon Canyon Road, a two-lane state highway that cannot be widened and make their way to wherever they are going.  Including to the west, where the City of Brea has this past summer approved the 162-unit Madrona subdivision.

An expansive Camp Kinder Ring structure with multiple levels and a good many pieces of hollow tile used here.  This structure was basically at the top of the site.
And, somehow, they're going to have to find the water that will be used in large homes on large lots that will use far more water per average in the rest of the area.

What appear to be shards of porcelain from a bathroom at one of the Camp Kinder Ring cottages.
And, somehow, fire fighting and prevention will have to take into account the increased number of homes in fire-prone areas, subject to high winds which feed the encroachment of the flames, as well as to deal with more people to evacuate.

More footings for a Camp Kinder Ring structure with the hills to the southeast of Carbon Canyon in the distance.
And, the list goes on . . .

A path leading to the Canyon Hills site as framed by a beautifully-gnarled oak tree.


Anonymous said...

Really -- this is a FABULOUS post, wonderful to read and peruse! VERY well done -- nice to have a "tour guide" who's been at it for so long! This is one I'll return to a few times, I know! Thanks so much for this website!!!

JA -- Mountain View neighborhood

prs said...

Hi JA, well, that was a fabulous hike and it was amazing to see all of those remains from Camp Kinder Ring, the fine views, and the other aspects of that site. And, yes, having someone who knows this area as well as anyone was essential. Thanks for the kind words.

Chuck Johnson said...

I have lived on Oakway Lane for 25 years & have hiked the trails & hills with my dogs for many years. Tragically I discovered today that mass site clearing/grading has begun on the Canyon Hills Subdivision site. I have some pictures I would like to forward to you showing the destruction. Sad that some day, sooner than thought, the beauty of the canyon which attracted many to live here will be gone forever.

prs said...

Hi Chuck, would you be willing to leave a comment with your address, which I will then delete? Thanks.