Thursday, February 04, 2010

No More Day Trips to the Snow? Angeles Crest Highway Remains Closed

Driving up the Angeles Crest Highway (the 2) above La Canada-Flintridge to play in the snow has become an annual winter tradition for us (as we've written about many times, including here).

It's one of L.A.'s surprisingly best-kept secrets. Everyone knows you can head over to Big Bear for some fun in the snow. But fewer folks, for some reason, realize that snow can be found just 40 minutes or so north of us in the mountains.

Well, it may be all moot now. And the Station Fire, unfortunately, is to blame. With so much dead plant life and trees up there, it's a mess -- and a dangerous drive, especially given how curvy the highway is.

Now comes word, via the L.A. Times, that the Angeles Crest might not re-open at all until March:

The stretch from La CaƱada Flintridge to Islip Saddle (at a junction with Highway 39) has been closed since Jan. 18 when heavy rains began that caused mudslides and washed away roads along the route in the Angeles National Forest.

Hillsides in that area were scorched by last year’s Station Fire, the largest blaze in Los Angeles County history, and the fire destroyed guard rails and signage and burned off road stripping. Officials said that the lack of vegetation on the hillsides was one factor that led to the washouts and severe road conditions... Officials said they hoped to reopen the road by late March.

Most of the snow will be melted by then, which completely ruins any chance of our usual quick ride to pay with the white stuff. It also means Baby Blogger 2.0 won't get his first taste of snow this year after all.

It's pretty depressing to realize that this is our new reality in the now-charred Angeles National Forest. And as bad as I feel, I'm thinking about how the folks behind Mt. Waterman -- the only skiing area up in that part of the woods -- and Newcomb's Ranch, the famed restaurant way up there, have got it much, much worse.

I gotta imagine Newcomb's has had to lay off most of its staff, as it hasn't had many chances to open following the fire. And Mt. Waterman posted this on Tuesday:

2-3-2010 - 2pm - Good Afternoon from Mt Waterman. We still have a solid 4-5 foot base, unfortunately we do not have a road to get to the Ski Area. Cal Trans snow blower is down at this time, they are trying to get a swap for a new blower. At this point we have no idea when we will get the road open. We just posted a couple of images from the road below. Keep checking with us as we will give you updates as we get them. Pray for Snow and a Road!

And here's a pic from the site that shows that not everything was burned. (And look at all that snow!):

(Pic by Craig Stewart)

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