Saturday, November 12, 2005

Driving around the Lake Arrowhead area

Today I had a day to myself and drove up around the Lake Arrowhead area. It's a very pleasant place, with little villages here and there and a whole bunch of nice mountain houses. A couple items of particular note:

1. The Forest Service maintains a few old fire lookouts as historical structures (I guess they have other ways of looking for fires now). Two in the Lake Arrowhead/Big Bear area are easily accessed from paved roads. One is Strawberry Peak. This is between Twin Peaks and Rim of the World Hwy. off of Bear Springs Rd. It's pretty neat. It's an old steel tower and you climb up about three stories. Up at the top are a few exhibits and a couple of volunteers to tell you about stuff, and fantastic views of places for miles around. There's another one at Keller Peak that you get to by going to the east end of Running Springs and heading south, but I didn't go to that one. They're open from May till about Mid-November, whenever they get their first significant snow.

2. Remember the fires that swept through the area two years ago? If you really want to see some destruction on a grand scale, head into Cedar Glen, on the east side of Lake Arrowhead, on Hook Creek Rd. I went out there this afternoon. All seemed normal, with houses, trees, and stores, until I passed Deep Creek Camp Rd. turned left, and found myself in a clearing... only it was really only a clearing because the fire had burned out the whole place. All of the trees were like burnt twigs, and I saw literally dozens of houses burned down to the ground. It was rather surreal, seeing how all that remained of so many houses was the foundation and a naked chiney and fireplace. The battery on my camera had run down, but this guy took some pictures of the area earlier this year. He's only got closeups of single houses, but if you saw a wide shot, you'd see that the entire neighborhood was obliterated, save for maybe 2 or 3 houses in the middle of things and a few on the periphery.

The first photo above is the view looking east from the Strawberry Peak lookout, and the other is the view looking south.

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