Field Trips Log
April 2006

Monday, 3 April 2006 (Eaton Canyon)

I wanted to see exactly where the landslide was on the Mt. Wilson Toll Road, so I drove up to the gate on Pinecrest Drive from where you can hike down to the bridge and then on up the Toll Road, and found that the gate was locked with a sign saying This Area Is Closed. I did get a good view of the landslide, which is in the same place that one occurred about ten years ago. At least one other major slide occurred in the same spot in the fairly recent past. And in fact the entire area is the geological result of a super slide that changed the face of the mountain some 12,000 years ago. For the last slide, they set off dynamite charges on the high side to bring down loose material, but it is not clear whether that can be done again. There are thousands of tons of dirt and rock just hanging above the slide area, and bulldozing the road would just bring that down. So it appears as though this road will be closed indefinitely, much to the chagrin of the 25,000 or so people who use it every year.

I went down to the Eaton Canyon parking lot and walked across the arroyo and up the road to the bridge, where I was able to get a better view of the slide and take some pictures. There was a fairly nice display of common phacelia (Phacelia distans), and other natives in bloom such as black sage (Salvia mellifera), bush sunflower (Encelia californica), sun cups (Camissonia bistorta), bur-chervil (Anthriscus caucalis), stinging lupine (Lupinus hirsutissimus), chia (Salvia columbariae), deerweed (Lotus scoparius), golden yarrow (Eriophyllum confertiflorum), cliff aster (Malacothrix saxatilis), collar lupine (Lupinus truncatus), yellow pincushions (Chaenactis glabriuscula) and some others. But it was the slide that I wanted to see, and despite the fact that some people have made a narrow track across it, I wouldn't take the chance of following it. There is a short-cut way up to the Toll Road that emerges above the slide, but there was a sign saying that was closed too.