There’s a ton of
venues for hiking in the San Bernardino mountain range just north of Pasadena. Some
trails start just 20 minutes from campus, up by JPL. However, if you’re looking
for an adventurous all-day hike, with snow to trek through in the summer, the
remains of a 1950s plane wreck along the trail, and a higher summit than any
other place in Southern California, the place to go is San Gorgonio Mountain in
the San Bernardinos, about a two-hour drive from Pasadena. I went there a few weeks
ago with a group of friends, some of whom you can see in the picture above. We
were surprised at how much snow was still on the mountain! We left Pasadena at
around 9 am and started on the Fish Creek Trail, which has about 3,400 feet of
elevation gain, at 11. Every so often we would run into other hikers on the
trail, but there weren’t as many as I would have expected for a weekend.
San Gorgonio Mountain has been the site of a
few tragic plane crashes over the years. A couple of hours into our hike, we
came across the remnants of the Douglas C-47 Dakota that crashed into the side
of the mountain in 1953. Most of the plane is still there, as you can see from
the picture above, which is part of a wing. Below is one of the propellers.
We hit several
large patches of snow along the trail, as you can see in the picture at the top
of the page. I was fascinated that the snow wasn’t melted, because the sun seemed
to be hitting it pretty directly, and the temperature was probably in the high
eighties. The snow crossings were the most epic and dangerous part of the hike,
because if you lost your footing you would probably end up sliding quite a ways
down the mountain.
And here’s the view
from the summit, at 11,502 feet! The mountains in the background are the at the
same elevation as ones behind Beckman Auditorium in my previous post; since
they seem so high from the ground, it was crazy to have to look down to see
It was 5 pm when we
reached the summit and 11 pm before we arrived back at our car. Despite losing
the trail for a brief period on the way down (it was dark out, but fortunately
we had a GPS and could collectively make a good guess about which way to go),
we made it safely back to Pasadena.
Almost a year ago now, I was just about to start my first Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) at JPL. NASA had sent out an email to all of their summer interns containing a social media template to announce that we had been selected as NASA interns. Excited to show my NASA pride, I posted it on my Instagram story, unaware of what would come out of this small action.
Hey hey! We’re starting a series where I walk you through my best finds for food and drinks in the Pasadena region, and in the LA metropolitan area. Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, if you will (although, for copyright reasons we can’t call it that). As you explore your college options, I firmly believe that food and location are more important than your high school guidance counselor may lead you to believe. And I’m here to share my best finds from my time at Caltech with you.
Over the past several months, I have had the opportunity to intern at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) under the mentorship of senior research technologist Dr. Xiaoqing Pi. Dr. Pi’s guidance and mentorship has been instrumental to the development and success of my internship at JPL, where I use machine-learning to enhance the accuracy and integrity of navigation and communication signals. In addition to helping me develop an understanding of atmospheric and ionospheric remote sensing and machine-learning, Dr. Pi has often offered his insights on how to improve my researching skills. Dr. Pi was generous enough to take the time to answer a few questions regarding his research and advice for future student interns. I believe many students can benefit from some of the lessons that he has taught me:
The transition period to remote learning was a very uncertain time, especially for research and the Caltech Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) program. Many hands-on projects had to pivot at the last minute to facilitate off-campus contributions. However, many Techers were able to take advantage of the research opportunities offered at Caltech and JPL to make the best out of remote learning and research. To paint a picture, I’ve interviewed a few talented Techers for some insight on what researching from home looks like for them.