|Hike Name:||San Gabriel Wilderness - Copper Canyon|
|Trip Date:||August 4, 2005|
|Trip Weather:||Sunny, Partly Sunny, Partly Cloudy|
|Trip Temperature:||High: 91-100, Low: 81-90 degrees Fahrenheit|
|Trip Report:||By 2pm, I was ready to hike and drove on CA 2 toward Throop Peak in the San Gabriel Mountains. There was a Forest Service office a few miles outside of La Canada, so I stopped to check with the ranger and was told that the road was closed to this area and showed pictures of avalanches and mudslides that still clogged the highway. Apparently, they’ve had three times the normal amount of precipitation this year and it reaked havoc on CA 2 in the higher elevations. The ranger recommended a hike to Cooper Canyon, and as I started to head out I realized my camera had no battery. So I went back to town for gas, sunscreen and an $8 drug store camera and drove to the Buckhorn trailhead.
There are two ski hills in this area, but they were much smaller than I expected. At this time of year, however, the snow had melted and the desert-like conditions made for some arid hiking. Cooper Canyon was more lush than the surrounding area due to Cooper Creek which irrigates the valley and provides more vegetation. The Burkhart Trail decends to the canyon losing over 1000 feet in 1.4 miles. Here it meets the PCT and shares a path with it for 0.3 miles before continuing on to Burkhart Saddle. The hike is a pleasant one with great views from after the trail leaves the PCT. I had a nice break here and devoured some Starbursts, then headed back to Buckhorn. I asked the ranger about rattlesnakes, and he said they were out there but that I probably wouldn’t see one. Well … I did, although it was a young 3 foot rattlesnake. While hiking back out of Cooper Canyon, I noticed a it right in the middle of the trail only two feet from my hiking boot. It didn’t shake it’s rattle, but it did let me snap five pictures before crawling into the trail support beams and poking both it’s rattle and head back out at me as I snuck by on the trail. I watched the path carefully for the rest of the hike out and passed another day hiker near the trailhead who hadn’t seen the snake.