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Commentary: Air conditioners could make this uninhabited mountain the coolest place in the area

Commentary: Air conditioners could make this uninhabited mountain the coolest place in the area
Cable from the transmission tower on the Mt. Lukens fire road drops around 1,000 feet to Gould Mesa substation, as Angeles Crest Highway climbs out of La Cañada toward Palmdale. Hiker Reg Green notes that 10 air-conditioning units are being installed at the top of the mountain. (Courtesy of Reg Green)

What’s the most unlikely place in Los Angeles to install an air-conditioning unit?

How about the top of Mt. Lukens?

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Mt. Lukens. Are you serious? It’s 5,000 feet up, the highest peak at the western end of the San Gabriel Mountains facing anything the ocean can throw at it, exposed to some of the most concentrated rainfall in the U.S. and open to winds from every point of the compass. It’s also uninhabited.

Yes, it’s all those things, including being part of the city of Los Angeles.

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But the normally solitary Angeles National Forest road to the summit is where last week I met a convoy of trucks taking up a team to install 10 air-conditioning units being flown in by helicopter. They are for the towers on the peak that provide service for everything from police and hospital emergency services to cellphones and television for the whole of Southern California.

So, perhaps it’s not that strange. Like all electronic equipment these towers can overheat and, as we all know, even a microscopic variation from the norm can send a computer crazy or deaden a cell phone connection. And, of course, as summer comes on Mt. Lukens is going to get scorchingly hot.

However, it remains true that the builders of this narrow, seven-mile dirt road — with its innumerable tight bends and deep ruts through country so steep and so densely packed with bushes that to this day it is almost impossible to penetrate on foot — could never have envisioned that one day it would be used to cool the top of a mountain.

Reg Green’s website is nicholasgreen.org.

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