Dawn in the Angeles National Forest. Nearby an owl called 'too hoo too hoo'. Then faintly and further down the valley, an answering call. The air was cool on my face, a welcome respite from summer's heat. The ridge top I stood on was drenched in night, the valley was darker still but the eastern sky glowed with a fringe of tangerine. This was the sky I'd come for and why I had dragged my weary bones out of bed at 4:30 AM. In the distance, Wilson Observatory's white dome mirrored the horizon's hues.
I moved on, driving deeper into the interior. The higher elevation yielded conifers. I stopped at a pull out and walked up slope into the forest. A wind kicked up and filled the air with its movement through the needles. It was both a vast and whispering sound - huge and intimate at once. The last of the stars winked out but for a stubborn few in the west.
The speed of the sun always catches me off guard. I think because I always want dawn and sunset to last longer than they do. But I suppose if they did linger, where would the wonder be? Instead of magic hour, it'd be magic ... day and ordinary. The fleeting moments are always better for their brevity. It is up to us to seek them out even if it's inconvenient.
I had originally wanted to be closer to Islip Saddle by sunrise but, as usual, I got distracted and took a more leisurely course with several side trips. Eventually I arrived there. Sadly no bighorns this time but the vistas were more than sufficient.
At the tunnels, I came across this old fellow standing sentinel beneath the cliffs. I spent some time attempting to frame it to my satisfaction. Still not entirely happy with the highlights in the exposure but there is plenty of time for further visits.
I drove through the tunnels and stopped for a look back. This next image gives you an idea of the scale of the landscape. This is partly what draws me to the backcountry. Its sheer scope sweeps away all my petty anxieties and stresses. Breathing clean high mountain air has a purging effect - fills me with vitality. I love lonely places - love that they put me in my place.
I ventured up the Islip Saddle trail after this for a mile or so. The roads were both closed beyond this point so I couldn't resist the call of the trailhead.
I sat atop this slope to catch my breath a bit and take it in.
By now it was midmorning and I'd been out since five and not equipped for a lengthy hike so it was time to pack it in and wind back down through bighorn country and the tunnels, past Mount Wilson and its splendid dome, down to La Canada Flintridge and back to Burbank. At least until next time the high country calls me.