The gate to the trailhead was open, cutting off four miles of road walking that I was expecting. Again, this is really early. At the parking area, I saw a couple groups getting ready to start hiking, one with small kids, so I charged onto the trail, not wanting to have to try and pass them later (does anyone else do this, or am I just weird?)
The trail was snow free and I made pretty good time. The first mile follows an old road and is pretty flat...
... but the last 2.5 miles gain 1850 feet.
The trail climbs this hill in a series of three long switchbacks.
In 2003, the Roberts Fire swept across this hillside. I vaguely remember hiking this trail years ago when it was covered by a lodgepole forest. The hike is very different today and can be very warm without the canopy. Most of the dead trees have now fallen.
I arrived at the top in an hour and 10 minutes, which I didn't think was too bad (Iceland volcanoes, here I come).