Mount Baldy

Hiking Mount Baldy was a last minute decision.  While at work on Friday, I was itching to go somewhere and do something over the Memorial Day Weekend.  Hiking is always fun, so I googled hiking trails in SoCal.  I didn’t want just any two-bit hiking trail like the ones we have in Laguna Beach.  I wanted something challenging, fun, and beautiful, which meant I had to look at higher elevation climbs.  Mount Baldy, AKA Mount San Antonio, fit the bill.

Mount Baldy is located in the Angeles National Forest, which is an hour and change north east of us.  Mount Baldy summit is the highest peak in LA county, topping out at 10,064ft.

After stopping off at the visitor center to pay for our $5 Adventure Pass we headed to Mankers Flat, the start of the trailhead.

There are 2 ways of getting up to the summit.  The Devil’s Backbone or the Baldy Bowl trail.  From Mankers Flat, we picked hiking up the paved road to Mount Baldy Resort, then hiking up the Devil’s Backbone Trail to the Summit.

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One thing that caught us off guard was the snow.  It had rained the night before, and any precipitation above 8K ft translates to snow.  I think had we known there was going to be snow, we would have scrapped the hike because we were warned not to hike the trail when there is snow.

However, snow makes this place look like a wonderland.  It’s beautiful beyond description.

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Some people opted to take the ski lift up to the resort before picking up the trail.

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A view above the clouds before the Devil’s Backbone Trail.

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Looking east towards the Mojave desert.

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The start of the Devil’s Backbone trail.  Called the Devil’s Backbone trail because you have sheer drops on either side of the path.  When icy, this is where people fall off to their deaths.

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Looking back at the hikers crossing the first section of the backbone.

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Hiking up towards the second section.

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Never would I imagine this kind of view existed in Southern California.

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Posing on the second section of the backbone.

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Certain sections are narrower than others.

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Immediately past the backbone, there was a narrow part that hugged the cliff wall.  Some of the snow had turned slushy and slippery, and at one point I thought I was going to fall off.  I think I would have been perfectly fine had there not been any snow on the ground.  This is when a set of hiking poles, and some crampons would come in handy.  I just remember digging my nails into the side of the wall to keep me from falling.

I had never been so scared in my life.  Even Joe said he’s never seen me so frightened.

At the bottom of the last summit.  This part was hard only for the fact that it was freezing and the wind was whipping at top speeds, and we had no where to hide.  This section was completely exposed.  Joe couldn’t feel his lips.  I just felt stinging on the right side of my face as the wind was coming from that direction.

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As we were hiking, we both had the same thought about turning around (a group had turned around).  However, for me, the thought of having to go back to the narrow path where I thought I had almost fallen off made me push forward.

We finally made it.  Four and a half hours and 4000 ft from the parking lot, we made it to the summit.  The last section took us a good 40 minutes to hike up.

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Thanks to the gale force wind, we chose not to linger at the top, and we made our way down the Baldy Bowl trail.

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Breathtaking!

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Can’t remember the last time we saw snow.  This was an impromptu thing Joe did.  He just plopped down to make a snow angel.

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Luckily, the Baldy bowl trail was protected from the wind, and we decided to have our mid-day snack here while enjoying the view.

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View along the trail at lower elevation.

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Finally, at the end of the Baldy Bowl trail which connects to the paved road we had hiked up 7 hours ago.

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I am so glad we did this impromptu hike.  Granted I almost died of a panic attack, but it was worth it.  Would I do it again?  Absolutely, but only after the snow has melted, and after investing in some good hiking poles.

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