Summitting Mount Baldy

Well, hello there! Hope you all have been enjoying yourselves the past couple weeks, taking those opportunities to go out and adventure amidst the feast day of Thanksgiving! I’m a little late, but I’m here to share with you my journey up Mount Baldy a couple months ago. This was my first hike over ten miles that I can remember: definitely my first hike up into high elevation (10,064 feet)!

I decided on a whimsical Friday night that I wanted to do Mount Baldy (officially named Mount San Antonio, in the San Gabriel Mountains) the next morning. I told my friend that I was going to go solo, and he suggested I get in touch with some guys he knew that were going. I thought that was insulting to my athleticism, but it was for the better 😉 I got in touch with these guys I had never met and we established a plan to leave around 4:00 AM that Saturday.  Normally, that’s an insane hour for me to wake up at, but when a hike is in question, I’m down!

Queue the adventure. We met up, and off we went into the inland empire. I quickly bonded with these guys and felt comfortable embarking on a strenuous journey with them. The initial climb up the fire road wasn’t too crazy. We stretched and got acquainted with our gear.

Then, we took an offshoot trail from the fire road, up to the ice house as dawn broke. We kept climbing up switchbacks, appreciating the change in foliage as we lost tree cover. Plus, I saw trickling water for the first time on a hike in a while and was stoked. I felt like I was really doing this thing!

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After the ice house, things got hairy. We could see the bowl, who’s edge we were traversing, drop off far below. The climb got intense at times: so much so that I had to crawl up on all fours. I started questioning my decision to go, but I charged forward because the view seemed all too worth it.

Then, the payoff and adrenaline came. As we walked along the ridge, we stopped for photo ops, perched on large boulders with nothing protecting our fall. I was afraid, but felt like I’d conquered something big; we all cheered each other along the way.

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Trudging to the summit, we kept crossing paths with fellow hikers. Old people were yelling at us about how out of shape we were. Being exhausted, we ended up walking side by side with people we had never met. It was awkward, but there was nothing we could do except to make small talk. I felt like I bonded with those randoms, even though we barely spent any time together. We let each other pass, depending on our level of exhaustion, and the politeness was awesome. Something often missed in Orange County.

The summit was beautiful, and that’s where we had lunch. I was in awe of the “campsites” and the love that was felt. There was even an arrangement of rocks spelling out “love” that tickled my soul. I was with my people!

Baldy Summit Group

As we came down the other side of the summit, to Devil’s Backbone, I was awestruck again. The ridge dropped off on both sides and I felt one with nature when I wasn’t in fear 🙂 The scariest part was walking along the thin trail with a mountain jutting up to my left and the abyss of a bowl dropping down to my right. My instinct told me to walk away from the mountain, but then I’d walk off the edge to my demise. Vertigo ensued, but mind over matter helped me to charge and focus on the trail ahead.

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The rest of the hike down was pretty calm. We stopped at the ski lodge for a break, a waterfall to rinse our feet, and eventually made it down to the cars. We clocked right around 11 miles that day and the cool part was that I wasn’t completely drained.

I’ve been on many hikes since Baldy, and will be writing about them soon. I appreciate you reading and hope to hear from some of you in the comments! Let me know about your Black Friday #optoutside journeys!

Take a hike and spice up your life!

–Doug

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