This trail is fairly easy to access. Mt Waterman is about 35 minutes north on Hwy 2 (Angeles Crest Hwy) above the city of La Crescenta in California. Hwy 2 is popular with hikers, bikers (both the motorized and the non-motorized kind) and even commuters who often use the route to avoid traffic during the week. The winding road that weaves you through the Los Angeles Natural Forest is lined with wildflowers that bloom in the spring, and various other drought tolerant plant-life.
The landscape changed because mountains made their own weather. No matter what the weather was like at the lower elevations, it was all left behind as we drove up the highway to our final destination- the Mt. Waterman Trail. It seemed like the higher we went, the clearer the sky became, the brighter the sun appeared and the greener the trees seemed. Even as California continues to face a serious drought, this area somehow managed to survive and even thrive.
We reached the designated mile marker and parked. Across the asphalt road was the unmarked trail-head (this one wasn't marked by a patch of orange wildflowers) and we started our ascent. Better prepared than on my first hiking excursion, (in which I was dressed more for a casual stroll through the asphalt jungle than hiking a mountain) I am outfitted with my trusty backpack filled with water, energy bars and other miscellaneous snack items. (I already wolfed down a banana to stave off crippling leg cramps that some hikers told me stories about) This time I am also clothed more appropriately for hiking; long pants, a light jacket, real hiking shoes, hat, sunglasses, camera and hiking poles. I trekked onward and upward. The air immediately made my lungs rejoice, even though my heart would beg to differ as my breathing quickly turned into panting. My heart started pounding in my ears so I stopped to let my heart rate regulate and hover somewhere around "normal". "Take as much time as you need", was not something I needed to think about. I would and I did. We came across some unusual rock formations, and my trusty hiking guide pointed out large boulders that were shaped like Indian heads, snakes, turtles and other various animals depending on which side of your temporal lobe you’re using at the moment. Although the scenery was beautiful and the silence a gift of nature, the babbling of a creek that had since dried for the time being, seemed to be the only thing missing. The weather was cool which I found comforting, but just a quickly the sun broke through to keep the cool air from becoming chilly. I breathed in the cool fresh mountain air that my lungs were far from used to and I kept up a pace that eventually caused me to break into a sweat, purging my body of the many impurities I subjected it to on a daily basis. (I really should drink more water).
We headed to the edge of a cliff and stopped to take in the beautiful view. With a passionate dislike of heights- it was too close to what appeared to be a steep drop into oblivion for my liking- I kindly retreated to a more comfortable and safe distance far, far away from the edge while my guide perched himself on a small rock to take in a light snack. He told me the view was better from here and I kindly but fiercely shook my head no, “I can see just fine from here”. He shrugged and decided he would settle on a little light conversation. He told me a story about survival and how setting your foot on what appeared to be solid ground could actually move right from under you and send you careening down the side of a mountain. HELLO! Seriously?! I’d have preferred the silence rather than his idea of light conversation which hardly seemed appropriate to me as HE sat perched on the very edge of a very high cliff. I'd had enough and proclaimed I was ready to keep going. We reached our second and final stopping point. It was a beautiful view and even though the clouds lingered low and gave an ominous view of the mountaintops barely visible, I perched myself on a boulder, a safe distance from the edge and dug into the snacks I'd brought along. I eventually felt comfortable enough to snap a few photos and really took a look at the amazing view. In a word - beautiful.
Is it still considered hiking if you preferred walking down an asphalt, tree lined-birds singing-butterflies flying- bees humming as they retrieved the pollen from the flowers that bloomed along the trail- kinda path? Truth be told, if that’s not hiking, this “virgin hiker” is happy to remain a virgin.