The Meaning of Hahamongna

The original settlers of the region were sometimes called the Hahamongna Indians. The word means "Flowing Waters, Fruitful Valley" in the native Tongva language.

Hahamongna News

Title:

Larry Wilson: Back into Upper Arroyo after fire came through

Subtitle:

Date:

2011-06-11

Author:

Larry Wilson, Public Editor

Publication:

Pasadena Star-News

Content:

SOON as the burnt-out case that is the Angeles National Forest acreage blackened by the Station Fire was reopened, I was eager to head back in. Not so much up the Angeles Crest - let the Ducati riders drive fast through the curves for a few weeks before motoring up there.

Not so much up the exposed switchbacks of some long haul in the sun. I don't do that kind of hiking much anymore, anyway.

No, my wife and my dog and I were more nostalgic for the memories we had of a favorite, shady stroll into the Upper Arroyo Seco past JPL toward Gould Mesa.

I was last there days after the fire swept through the canyon, when naturalist Christopher Nyerges and I slipped in to check out the devastation more or less before the official closure orders came down. Sure, it was awful then, 18 months ago - but there was also a kind of wild magic. Isolated trees were still on fire above us. The ground was in places still on fire, too: You'd come across what seemed a campfire from time to time, probably a root or buried log that refused to go out. It looked like a backyard, poolside warming pit fired by natural gas.

So a few days after the hiking ban was lifted, we parked at the western dead-end of Altadena Drive and hiked down into the canyon. A few hundred yards above Hahamongna, where the Arroyo narrows, we were in the burn area. Though you're surrounded by Angeles National Forest there, on the canyon floor you're really still within Pasadena's city limits,

Advertisement
for reasons of water rights. And the stream was indeed flowing pretty well. Ever the optimist, I was carrying my Sage rod, with a classic Parachute Adams dry fly tied on - pre-fire, Fish & Game frequently stocked the stream with rainbows, and there's always the possibility of some wily old brown trout as well.
Truthfully, the hike was pretty awful. The thousands of gorgeous alders whose leaves used to shade the canyon are ashen, denuded vertical logs now. Pasadena Water & Power - or someone - has done a fair amount of bulldozing, so there's not a lot of natural terrain left. The old day-camp area called Teddy's Place, such a sweet nook we once considered hauling in Thanksgiving dinner to its picnic table, is simply gone.

I did get my fly line wet, but it wasn't as if I did so with much hope. No darting fish were in sight - certainly none were rising to a hatch. I tossed the fly with desultory flicks. No strikes.

We had to check it out. But in the end, it was not a pleasure to have gone. Though I do have a curiosity about how things look farther up toward Switzer's Camp, I'm not sure I'll go back.

It was a bit of a tonic, though, to go on a whim on a recent (uh, extended) lunch hour up Highway 39 into San Gabriel Canyon above Azusa, park at the West Fork lot, hike upstream half a mile, find a gorgeous hole, toss my line out and immediately get a strike, and then land and release a wild trout. Sure, it was under five inches. But it was cool and green all around me. And there's nothing like catching, so close to home.

Public Editor Larry Wilson's blog is www.insidesocal.com/publiceye.