Micro-news for CT 4601, Altadena, CA

Big improvement at Eaton Canyon falls

posted by Jeremiah 9/24/2009 08:36:00 AM

Okay, this picture may not be the most inspiring, but for anyone who may have felt a bit depressed by my June post with photos and video of the extreme defacement of Eaton Canyon, north of the Mt Wilson Toll Road bridge, I have some good news.

Last weekend I hiked the trail, and was pleasantly surprised. First, while the creek was dry about 1/3 of the way up, the water was running over the falls, and was still creating enough of a pool that there were people swimming and enjoying themselves in it.

But more importantly, all the June graffiti was painted out. As you can see from the photo above, some tags have reappeared, and some of the abatement paint jobs are not the most artful, but before you gasp in horror at the thought of painting over rocks to "remove" graffiti, it really is a gigantic improvement, and the ham-handed cover-up paint job shown in the photo in only obvious because it's on a smooth surface. On rocks, the texture forces the paint-over to be more mottled and blend much better than this. I didn't get any photos of the cover-up of the "murals" at the falls (there were some women swimming and I didn't want to be creepy), but they're far less noticeable, and a major improvement.

On the Stonehill News email group, there was some discussion about the pros and cons of painting over vs removal. I was concerned that removal might actually be worse because of the difficulty in containing any solvents or waste that would result. So in my view, painting over is not ideal, but the only thing better would be a magic wand that prevented the graffiti in the first place.

Graffiti has been will continue to be a constant problem along that trail, and as such, the rocks are were already coated with layers of abatement paint long before the major defacement I photographed in June. If you're a geologist or naturalist looking for pristine nature, you will might want to pick a different trail for hiking, but in a general sense, seeing the graffiti kept at bay so efficiently makes me feel like we live in a civil society.

The somewhat grim news I have is that while coming out of the wash I encountered a large family group staging at the bottom of the Toll Road, preparing to hike in. There were several children and adults. They were carrying folding chairs, back-packs, a cooler, etc. The grim part is that they were all dressed in kind of "gang-ie" looking clothes, consisting of tight straight braids and bald heads, black baseball hats, black baggy t-shirts or white tank tops, thin gold chains, baggy shorts, etc., and there was a large new can of Krylon industrial marking paint sitting on the ground amidst their supplies. As I approached them and spotted the paint, I commented (with a wink and a smile) something like, "you're going to use that to cover up graffiti, right?" They looked a bit surprised for a moment and then laughed it off, and went on to admire my dog (she's a pit-bull, and they liked the breed).

In any case, despite it having been notably better in terms of the level of graffiti, there were already a few tags here and there, and I assume there's a good chance that the group I encountered added their own markings when they went in.

As such, I waited until today, but I did call for abatement:

LACO Graffiti Hotline 800-675-4357 option 2

The man who answered told me they should have it cleaned up in about 3 days. (confirmation #118162)

Every time I've used this hotline, the problem has gotten cleaned up very quickly, so please do use it if you see graffiti yourself.

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At 9/24/2009 1:11 PM, Blogger Dita said...

Jeremiah, Remember the graffiti on the stone wall near Ridley Creek Park? Someone kept painting it over in white, and soon after, more graffiti would appear. Then,after years of this, someone painted it white again, and put a huge mural of a dove with the words PEACE ON EARTH over it. Never again has there been graffiti on that wall and this happened around 18 years ago. The dove mural is still there. It makes my heart glad every time I drive past. Ma

At 9/24/2009 5:59 PM, Blogger Greg Sweet said...

Forest Service (mostly volunteer labor, by the way) is using a prduct called "Taginator" that melts away the spray paint and is reportedly inert once it hits the soil or water.


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Selected Station Fire Time Lapse Videos

posted by Jeremiah 9/11/2009 06:40:00 PM

These are both worth watching full screen (they are embedded as HD already)

View from Mt Wilson Sept 4th - 7th

View from across town, Aug 29

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At 9/24/2009 12:24 PM, Blogger Above the City said...

Amazing Mt. Wilson timelapse!! Thanks.


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Dodging the Station Fire

posted by Jeremiah 9/06/2009 06:04:00 PM

Our family's two-week summer vacation started the weekend before the Station Fire. We came home for two nights (Thursday 8/27 and Friday 8/28) before it was seriously threatening our neighborhood in northeast Altadena. The breeze delivered two days of clear skies and two nights of choking smoke.

Thank goodness the wind never presented the seasonal Santa Ana pattern that can happen at this time of year, with the characteristic hot gusting winds out of the north that fanned the local fires of 1993. The Station Fire has only been fanned by the gentle Foothills breathing rhythm that residents rely on to draw the day's hot air out to sea every night. The Stonehill anemometer chronicles this pattern of gentle south breeze all day and gentle north breeze all night. A look at the current 5-day readings illustrates the breath-like regularity of this pattern.

With our windows closed all night, we contemplated our vacation plans and decided that they were in some ways a blessing. So we voluntarily evacuated to escape the smoke and enjoy the second half of our vacation on Saturday 8/29, and monitored the email lists, web cams and blogs from afar all week. The steady flow of information made it possible for us to enjoy our vacation with one eye on how things were progressing online. At one point early in the week, we contemplated flying me back home to help defend the neighborhood should it come to that, but decided against it. Amidst the bounty of near-real-time information, these photos were among some of the most reassuring to me personally. They were emailed by Dan Gollnick, showing professional Hot Shot crews fortifying the perimeter defenses along the Altadena Crest Trail.

After having seen literally dozens of ominous photos like the brief selection posted below, the photos of the hotshot crews fortifying our defenses was a welcome sight.

Station Fire flaring up above JPL on 8/28/09 at about 8pm
Photo by Dan Finnerty

Station Fire as seen from the top of Lake on 8/29/09 at about 6am
Photo by Bill Westphal

DC-10 water bomber on 8/29/09 at about 5:30pm
Photo by Bill Westphal

P-3C Orion water bomber over Mount Wilson Observatory on 8/30/09 at about 6:00pm
Photo by Greg Garner

Martin Mars water bomber over Mount Wilson Observatory on 9/1/09 at about 4:00pm
Photo by Greg Garner

Martin Mars water bomber flying over on 9/1/09 at about 4:00pm
Photo by Greg Garner

In the local lore about the 1993 Santa-Ana-whipped blazes that destroyed many homes in our neighborhood, one of the biggest aspects of the stories is the near complete lack of professional support in the defense. Seeing these pictures, I imagined that the Gollnicks, who are the beachhead of Stonehill, must have found some level of satisfaction seeing professionals digging literally miles of "scratch lines" with 1.5 inch feeder hose laid the entire length.

We returned from vacation late last night. I took a hike this morning along part of the "scratch-line" that the Hot Shots had built. Not to over-dramatize things, but I couldn't help looking at the coils of 1 inch hose as unmanned foxholes in hastily-build fortifications somewhere in the Ardennes, facing an anticipated German onslaught, which by some stroke of fate passed over and raged to the east. A staged Forest Service bulldozer at the ready and sky cranes ferrying supplies from the rear to the eastern front filled out the sense of walking a fortification prepared for a battle that never came.

Living in a land without war or knights-of-old, wild-land hot shots are the knights-of-new, defending our kingdom against the flames of hell.

A "knight-of-new" Grayback Forestry Hot Shots of Grants Pass, OR on 9/4/09
SGVN/Staff photo by Eric Reed

For posterity, here is a list of the best wildfire links collected during the week:
Non-government sites:
  • Mashup map of MODIS satellite thermal data and the GeoMAC perimeter data
  • Industry-watch blog
  • Time-Life-quality photos of the Station Fire
National wildfire aggregate information:

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Eaton Canyon Falls Graffiti Survey

posted by Jeremiah 6/13/2009 07:04:00 PM

Today I hiked up to the Eaton Canyon Falls, and I took a picture of every surface that had paint on it, either covering old graffiti, brand new graffiti or both. As you can tell by looking at all the painted over rocks and walls, graffiti is nothing new under the bridge and along the whole creek bed, however make sure you go all the way through to the end of the slide show. The walls and rocks of the canyon by the falls have been spray painted on a scale that is unusual, judging by the fact that many of the surfaces that are defaced do not have abatement paint behind them.

It's hard to tell from the photos just how disturbing it is to see in person. It reminds me of pre-Giuliani Central Park. This video, panning around the falls area helps illustrate how terrible this is.

I plan on calling this defacement into the graffiti hotline now, and will update this post with the confirmation number(s). The county has previously been extremely prompt about taking care of graffiti. We'll see how long this takes to clean up, as it's far less accessible. I suppose they'll hike in with supplies, as a helicopter drop off seems overkill for graffiti.

Update: I just got off the phone with the Graffiti Hotline.

LACO Graffiti Hotline 800-675-4357 option 2

The woman who answered told me they should have it cleaned up by Wednesday. (confirmation #108516)

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At 6/14/2009 8:01 AM, Blogger feonixrift said...

What's terrible isn't just the buildup of graffiti over time... I was out there a couple weeks ago, quite a lot of that is brand new.

At 6/14/2009 12:53 PM, Blogger Isaac Garcia said...

Hey man, its art.

Leave these people alone. We can't be oppressive of artists. Who do you think you are?

Do it in the road man,....its okay man, as long as they aren't hurting anybody.

Why are you such a hater? This is a racist blog full of hate-speech.

I'm going to stop downloading this web page.

At 6/14/2009 1:04 PM, Blogger Jeremiah said...

Yes, most of the tags look new. The paint is still glossy. In particular the tag Ruf and variants of that are extremely prevalent. Some of the other large multi-color tags are Tatum, Smuk, Mireya and a aborted attempt at Voner. Vonbon/Voner, Cupcake and Caspar are fairly prevalent as small tags. There are also a few groupings with other tags mixed in like Bugs. I also note that there are at least two instances where 09 is written.

In design school I read a few books about "subway art" which featured many dozens of photographs of quite accomplished and sophisticated graffiti compositions. With regard to the artistic merit of this defacement, it all looks very crude and ham handed, leading me to think that this is a bunch of rookies. So even if it were not painted on the most inappropriate location possible, it has zero artistic merit. My instinct is that this was a bunch of high school kids.

At 6/14/2009 1:05 PM, Blogger Jeremiah said...

@Isaac: hahaha! ROFLMAO

At 9/24/2009 2:10 AM, Blogger Bryan said...

So sad, too painful to see the whole video.

At 9/24/2009 8:26 AM, Blogger Jeremiah said...

I meant to blog about this, but the good news is, I hiked up there last weekend, and 99% of the graffiti in these pics and videos has been covered over. It might seem just as bad to hear about rocks being painted over to "remove" the graffiti, but it really is so much better. Since the abatement, a few minor new tags have re-appeared, but it's significantly better down there now.

At 11/17/2009 6:49 AM, Anonymous CMC said...

You either "celebrate diversity" or you don't. Angelenos prattle on about their "richly diverse" environments, except when those they've defensively dubbed with diplomatic euphemisms show up for a picnic and an afternoon of spray painting. Once upon a time, the local police would have pulled over a carload of Tatums, Smuks, and Mireyas before they were two blocks from the freeway off-ramp, but that isn't done anymore, and you get to share nature equally.


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Bobcat on Chaney Trail

posted by Jeremiah 5/13/2009 05:13:00 PM

Received these amazing photos via email today:

Here is the note that came with it:


I read the Stonehill News blog occasionally, because I'm an avid hiker, and I like the wildlife updates. I wanted you & your community to know about this bobcat I saw today on Chaney Tr., which was acting unusual. I was driving back from Millard, and saw it cross the road. It stopped to look at my car, then walked into the brush. I pulled forward and stopped, and got my camera out, hoping to see it down the embankment.

When I got out of my car, it had walked back up to the road. It simply sat there looking at me for a few minutes, which wouldn't be too strange, except it was vocalizing - sometimes growling, sometimes meowing like a housecat. It then walked back across the road one more time, and up the road cut on the other side.

I have seen a couple of bobcats on hikes before, but they always run away quickly. So I wanted to give you a heads up. I'm sure everyone knows the standard advice - keep pets inside at night, don't leave food out, and just generally be aware. Hopefully this cat isn't sick, and I just had a lucky sighting.

This is a very young animal, weighing probably 10 pounds or so. Not a physical threat to anyone, unless it is in fact rabid.

Attached are the best photos, cropped and zoomed (I only got within about 20 feet, which was close enough for my comfort). The full set of pics are on my photobucket page, here.



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Mount Wilson Toll Road Reopening

posted by Jeremiah 3/03/2009 09:33:00 AM

The neighborhood was aflutter with the news that bulldozers appeared out of nowhere yesterday, and started clearing the landslide off the Mount Wilson Toll Road. This has be closed for how long?! I guess this is a "shovel-ready" project if ever there was one.

View Slideshow

And here's some video that might look a bit boring to the uninitiated, but to locals, this is exciting stuff!

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At 3/03/2009 2:06 PM, Blogger pasadenapio said...

Couldn't see the video. I'll be eager to drive up the road sometime soon, after it warms up a bit up there.


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New ACT Trail Markers

posted by Jeremiah 1/07/2009 09:41:00 PM

Well someone's been busy. On my walk this morning, there were two brand new signs that weren't there yesterday morning.

View Larger Map

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At 1/18/2009 12:16 AM, Blogger Uncle /\/\el said...

Very busy that day indeed. The signs were all over the ACT by Friday. Other regular walkers were staring at the signs everywhere I went.


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Lion Sighting in NW Altadena

posted by Jeremiah 11/13/2008 11:07:00 PM

These pictures came in at about 9pm tonight via the ACT email loop. I put a Google Map below with a pin at the approximate location described in the email.

From: Richard W: "These pictures were taken from the end of our driveway, looking NE. The ridge where I spoted the lion is maybe 200' and just accross a small canyon from the end of our driveway. Whew!"

Bonnie R added in the thread that it is "an adult mountain lion hanging out on the ridge between the ends of Coate Court and Sunset Ridge Road today around 1:50. It appeared to wander down the hill toward the top of Sunset Ridge or in the canyon behind the houses."

View Larger Map

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Cape of Good Hope to Echo Mountain

posted by Jeremiah 4/26/2008 06:45:00 PM

Last Wednesday, I saw an invitation to join Brian Marcroft, a Forrest Ranger, on a "Railfan Picnic" hike. The flier read:

"Meet at the north end of Lake Ave. in Altadena at 7:30 AM.
Carpools will be organized and will depart at 8:00 AM
After arriving at the Cape of Good Hope there will be a one-mile hike down the railway grade to Echo Mountain.

Tour of the mountain complex will include:
Seeing remnants of the Echo Mountain House and Chalet Hotels, the power plants, tennis courts, observatory, Zoo, Section House, Cable House and Incline. See ongoing work performed by the volunteer groups.


There will be a limited number of visitors.
We will be behind a locked gate and those attending will be required to stay with the group from 8:00 AM to 1:00PM.

Not knowing exactly where the Cape of Good Hope was, the part that caught my eye was, "we will be behind a locked gate." So I packed a picnic of nuts and water along with my digital camera, and set my alarm for Saturday morning.

We congregated at the top of Lake, and at 8am, we set off with about 15 or 20 people in a caravan of 5 cars. We drove to the top of Chaney Trail and were given special access to drive passed the locked gate at the Mt. Lowe Road. We drove east up a slight grade for about two miles, and stopped at a small dirt parking lot located roughly along the historic rail bed at a point known as the Cape of Good hope.

From this point, there is a nice, well maintained trail, following the historic rail bed about 3/4 of a mile from Mt. Lowe Road, south on a shallow down grade to Echo Mountain. I uploaded my snapshots from the walk, and placed them roughly where they were taken on the map. Make sure you switch to Satellite view (upper right corner) so you can zoom in closer.

Photos on a map

I met lots of nice people, and I hope I meet them again soon. Before walking back to the cars, we sat and had a picnic in the shady area just west of the Echo Mountain House ruin, known as the tennis courts.

I got some nice hand-drawn maps from Brian Marcroft, and found out about his web site, mtlowe.net where I found a topo-map of Mt Lowe and the trails leading to it. I added those to my Altadena Crest Trail map project.

View Alatadena Crest Trails map

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Re-greening of burn area at top of Lake

posted by Jeremiah 3/24/2008 02:46:00 PM

Local photo blogger, Petrea Burchard captured a nice comparison of the burn area at the top of Lake, just after it burned and after a winter of rain:


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At 3/24/2008 6:57 PM, Blogger Petrea said...

Hi Jeremiah,
Thanks for mentioning my blog! Just to clarify: I don't have any photos taken right after the fire.

The first photo I posted was taken in February, 2008, and the second only a month later (making the growth spurt seem even more prolific). The fire occurred in August, 2007.

I've bookmarked you. Thanks again.

At 4/04/2008 11:45 AM, Anonymous AP said...

Miss you man.

- AP


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Altadena Crest Trail Google Map

posted by Jeremiah 7/10/2007 09:44:00 AM

I have started a Google Maps version of the Altadena Crest Trail. I am transcribing it from the map published in a flier that was snail-mailed out by LA County several months ago (map is dated 2-1-05). So far my Google version only has the trail heads and the proposed Rubio Canyon Gap segments.

I'll work on the proposed Skylane Gap and LaVina sections next (the proposed sections are more time consuming because there is no existing trail to trace). After I get my best shot at those in, I'll trace the exiting trails and access paths as well.

This is really fun, because with the Google satellite and hybrid views, you can inspect the route in tons more detail than you can with the printed maps that I have seen.

On a related note (in case you hadn't noticed), the satellite images of our area have been recently updated (looks like maybe this past winter). While we already had hi-res imagery of the populated areas, it was a bit long in the tooth (recent construction changes were not reflected). More to the point, the new images include the mountains as well. Perfect for mapping the hiking trails!

Enjoy =)

posted by Jeremiah 7/11/2007 11:44:00 PM

I updated the map with the two of the three Skylane Gap options that were
published. I'll be adding the third as well as the La Vina ones over the
next few days, as I have some time on my hands (had hernia surgery this
morning, so on bed rest...thank god for laptops and wireless internet).

FYI I have marked the ones "proposed" based on the documents I could access.
By whom they are "proposed" is not indicated. I guess it implies that the
people who did the surveys are proposing them as their favorite ones?

I am copying off a glossy pamphlet I was mailed several months ago (also posted as a pdf), and pdfs I found here:


(the defualt apache index can be viewed too)

These two are my main references:
ACT Trail Pamphlet.pdf

ACT Initial Study - Part 2.pdf

Note the pdf maps above were posted almost a year ago, but that's
all I have to go on, as I haven't attended any of the meetings. Any updates

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At 7/16/2007 11:15 AM, Anonymous AP said...

Thanks for your purchase, btw. Please encourage others to purchase stuff to help "the cause" :-)


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