In a recent trip, I visited the southern California town of my youth, La Crescenta. Although it was a short trip, I had to take a quick morning hike up into Pickens Canyon, where I spent many teenage days and nights exploring some of LA’s hidden open spaces.
This creek at one time was the principle water supply for the rural community below, which eventually became La Crescenta and Montrose. If you look carefully in the pictures you might see the old water pipes that were installed near the turn of the century. We used to use them as supports, climbing along them to get higher up into the canyon.
A wonderful coast live oak here in all its fire adapted glory. There was a fire in this canyon in 2009 which has substantially altered the vegetation from when I was last there – over 15 years ago. And while I did note some tree mortality, most of the mature trees, particularly the ones hanging on the canyon walls have survived. I also saw the canyon live oak and the California scrub oak, as well as maple, alder, and willow species.
Another observation was of the apparent debris torrent that has scoured the stream channel in places and deposited sediments in low gradient areas. These mountain streams are very incised and have many narrow, steep side channels making their watershed areas larger than you would think – the result is a huge peak flow result, especially after fires have burned most of the understory vegetation in the upper portions of the watershed. Here is a video I found of the recent floods, taken about 1 mile down from where my pictures were taken:
Wow, and that was nothing compared to what happened in the infamous flood of 1934: http://www.cvhistory.org/thennow/pics/pickensfloodcontrolthen.jpg.
A view out of the canyon. Bye-bye LA. Hopefully next time I will get to spend some time in up in the Angles Crest.