27 November 2015

A Ramble in the Hills Above Carbon Canyon: Black Friday Edition

One the many trails and access roads along the route of today's trek--this one close to Olinda Village.
While eager shoppers swarmed stores this morning, this blogger and a longtime Carbon Canyon resident swarmed the hills above Carbon Canyon enjoying the gorgeous weather, staggering views, and natural beauty found in this remarkable, but threatened, oasis amid the urban sprawl.

A glance towards Orange County, where shoppers were thronging malls and stores in search of great bargains.  Others, meantime, were in search of the exact opposite.
The three-plus hour walk was in the regions north of the canyon from Brea to Chino Hills and included a concluding climb up to see the hot springs that, for decades, fed the historic La Vida Mineral Springs resort.

Looking northeast towards the San Gabriel Mountains and the triple peaks of San Antonio (Baldy), Ontario and Cucamonga on a gorgeous, clear day.
Beginning from Olinda Village at about 9:15, the scramble ascended the top of the hills at the northeast of that community and past the water tanks that service that area.

A beautiful and quite old oak spreading its limbs for ample shade along the route.
Portions of the hike took in areas that have been slated for the Madrona development, 162 houses proposed on 367 acres, but which have been granted a reprieve, thanks to a recent Orange County Superior Court ruling that overturned the City of Brea's approval of the project.

This action shot captured a doe scampering across a road in the Firestone Boy Scouts Reservation.
More than likely, the property owner, the State of Idaho, as conservator of the failed Old Standard Life Insurance Company, a Spokane, Washington firm that took possession of the land after a 2009 bankruptcy involving the Shopoff Group, will appeal the case to the state appellate court.

The aforementioned deer and her friend heading up the slope for foraging away from strange, prying eyes.
Heading north and east from there, the walk skirted the western edge of the St. Joseph's Hill of Hope property, which is well-fenced and signed, and then descended down into a portion of the Firestone Boy Scouts Reservation at the lower end of Tonner Canyon.

One of many excellent views of Tres Hermanos Ranch in Tonner Canyon, which has been the site of much speculation regarding its future.
A brief bypass through a couple of campgrounds, including a shooting range, also led to the easement and access road for the Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project (TRTP).

A view south towards the widespread hinterlands of Lion's Canyon.
Segments of this project lead eastward from Diamond Bar through Chino Hills to points east.  The 200-foot towers that span the hills then terminate to the portal leading the route underground just beyond Oak Tree Downs near Eucalyptus Avenue.

 A remarkable natural feature found on the jaunt was this oak tree growing out of an outcropping of sandstone along a ridge.
This portion of the project was the subject of great controversy and a stunning reversal by the California Public Utilities Commission, which ordered the 500 KV lines placed below ground--the first such system attempted in the United States.

It's hard to comprehend the massiveness of these 200-foot tall towers installed for the TRTP project unless you have a view like this.
The route then proceeded down into Oak Tree Downs and from there included the additional scramble up to the source of La Vida's hot springs.

Eyed by this blogger's fellow traveler, this monkey flower doesn't normally (whatever that means these days) bloom until the Spring. 
At this location, not far from Carbon Canyon Road, a chain-link enclosure with razor wire on it was constructed fairly recently around the well and pipe that still emits a decent flow of hot water from the springs--though the door is open to the enclosure.

Here are the last two above-ground 200' TRTP towers before the segment moves to an underground route at a 12-acre transfer station being carved into a hill near the western end of Eucalyptus Avenue in Chino Hills.
A few feet away, another pipe emerges from the ground and a smaller, cooler flow emanates from there.  The water then descends the steep gully down to where the remains of the old La Vida tanks sit at the base of the hill.

Another example of an early flowering plant, this California Fuchsia would, like the Monkey Flower shown above, not usally be in flower at this time of the year.
It is certainly strange to see water emerging from the springs and then flow down hill.  On the ascent and descent, the gurgling of water through the narrow defile is especially odd, given the horrific drought our region has experienced for several years.

A beautification project underway at the historic La Vida Mineral Springs property in Brea, where a highly-invasive stand of tamarisk plants provides useful cover for the illegal dumping of trash.
Unfortunately, trash and debris are piled near the pipes at the springs, indications of what may have been a homeless encampment or perhaps some "farming" activity.  At the bottom, near the path that leads from the state highway to the tanks, people have taken advantange of the easy access to dump all kinds of trash near a stand of highly-invasive tamarisk plants.

The source of the hot mineral water that fed, from the 1910s to the 1980s, the La Vida Mineral Springs resort.
The property owner, who lives in Japan and has local representatives, is either unaware of or is uninterested in what has been going on, though it has been stated to this blogger that a local Japanese-language newspaper article back in the Spring reported that the owner has talked of spending $35 million to reestablish a hot springs resort at the site.

Another pipe emitting mineral water as it flows into a narrow channel heading down a steep defile towards the La Vida property.  Unfortunately, trash has piled up in this area, as well.
About 12:30, the day's adventure ended with tremendous regret that the time wasn't better spent at the mall instead of in the outdoors enjoying the fabulous weather, million-dollar views, the spotting of a couple of deer, and the enjoyment of solitude and the canyon's natural beauty.

Despite the crumbling portion at the foreground right, this historic tank structure, dating to the 1920s, is still perched on the hill at the western end of the La Vida Mineral Springs property.
Hikes like this are a true cause for thanksgiving.

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