My son and I went up the 2 yesterday to Islip Saddle mostly because my family had hiked Mount Islip on Mother's Day in 2020, and I wanted to revisit the area and the memories of that day.
Of course by then a great deal of calamity was unfolding in the world, and also for my family and me personally. But May 10, 2020 is a day I remember as a happy one. There was still snow in the shadowy gullies of Islip's north face, which made the footing a little more challenging. It was sunny and warm. And on that day, despite the toxic stress of the previous two months, I was still me.
Islip today is different, and so am I. The Bobcat Fire burned erratically through the area, destroying whole swaths of forest while leaving others intact. Islip Saddle, and Islip's Northwest aspect got hit particularly hard. I don't know if the Islip trail is in a mandated closure area or not, but you probably don't want to be on it regardless.
However, you can come at Islip from the east, from Windy Gap, which is what my son and I did yesterday. If you do that, you'll avoid the burn areas, making it seem as if the mountain was untouched by the fire.
I like Mount Islip. It's a great short hike, and also a great ski when there's snow on it. Since Islip is on the crest of the San Gabriels, it offers stunning views of both the basin and the desert. If you go, Highway 2's current status is kind of ambiguous. I think they're sporadically doing work on clearing out dead trees alongside the roadway, with occasional delays or closures.
It's very hard for me to accept the things that happened over the past year. Things I never imagined possible. In that sense, I know, I'm not alone. It has been a year of loss, and heartbreak, and suffering for so many people.
It felt good to be back atop a summit, on a warm sunny day, in the mountains, with my son. I'm trying.
— May 10, 2021
Andy Lewicky is the author and creator of SierraDescents
Charles May 10, 2021 at 9:29 pm
Great piece, thank you!
So glad to see you, and your long demonstrated excellent abilities as a writer, reach high places again.
All the best for a happy summer.
Matt D May 11, 2021 at 12:35 pm
Glad you are getting out there! I love that area, including the little approach gully to Windy Gap coming from the 2 that lets you cross the crest to and from Crystal Lake. I was last up there in December and I swear I could still smell smoke. Glad to hear the east side of Islip didn't burn too badly... that stretch of the crest from Islip to Throop is magic.
Joseph Gregory May 12, 2021 at 9:53 am
I've watched a few great sunsets from Islip. It is a magical place notwithstanding all of the fire and drought regression that area has seen in the last 10 years.
I am glad you are using those outdoor muscles and parts of your mind. It has been good to read your words despite all of the adversity you and others have contended with this year.
There's a great Latin phrase that comes to mind on the really hard days (and climbs) where all I must do is keep going: Nec Aspera Terrent. Literally, I think it reads "hardship shall not deter." Emotionally, it can be translated "Difficulties be d*mned." It has helped me, I hope it may help you.
Michael May 12, 2021 at 11:44 am
Glad you are making progress and get to enjoy the outdoors. Best wishes for a continued recovery!
Bill May 14, 2021 at 2:28 am
Let me add to the comments glad to see you back. As mentioned in another comment, we have left the States, but your blog, words, and photos are my touchstone to my beloved Southern California backcountry - overshadowed and underappreciated as the little sibling of the Sierras.
Dan Conger May 15, 2021 at 6:56 pm
Glad to see you getting out there with your son. The last year+ has been so hard for so many. Looking forward to living vicariously through your ongoing mountain adventures.