Trails to Trudge: Mt. Baldy

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This Mt. San Antonio hike hike marks the beginning of me coming to the realization that I wanted to start posting about these hikes.  The hike was difficult but it was a challenge that brought me immense satisfaction and joy after completion.  Author’s note: From here on out, I’m going to refer to Mt. San Antonio by its nickname: Mt. Baldy. 
“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
Enjoy the trail photos and write-up below….

Mt. Baldy Loop

  • length: 11 miles
  • terrain: well-maintained trail; obviously pretty steep
  • payoff: 10,064′ in the air and the highest point in LA county

Make no mistake… this is a difficult hike but not an impossible one. I did this hike with my homie Tyler and his dog, Chapo.  Multiple times throughout the journey we contemplated turning back but we never did.  We kept pushing forward.  Completing a hike of this difficulty and length is a test of willpower and your drive to make it to the top…91E9A045-4B15-42A2-B217-C73F68DA7C8F1E01578A-7421-43BC-88DB-7DAD842AB5A1…The first leg of the trail from the parking lot is a slow paved incline taking you to San Antonio Falls…

…from the falls, the incline begins to increase. We went in late September and I remember starting out the hike feeling the wind blow on my face and thinking it was a nice day for a hike. Pretty soon though, the sun was out beating down on my face and neck…

…in September there was no snow on Mt. Baldy; making the ski hut and lifts look like a veritable ghost town.  The emptiness of the place was both peaceful and unsettling as you zig zag up the switchbacks with empty lifts flying above your head and not a soul to be found…

…once at the ski hut, it offered us a brief respite. However, it did give us a great view of our next challenge: the ski slope (pictured above, bottom right and below).  The slope was by far the steepest portion of our journey and the progress was slow going.  As you can see in the pics, the sun was shining bright and there was zero cover from the bottom to the top of the slope…

…once at the top though, there was time to soak in the view and catch our breath…

7C3A396A-BBE1-4326-8E10-D68122953BA1…after the ski slope, we came across the “Devil’s Backbone” portion of the hike.  This part is a treacherous stretch of trail that features a steep drop on either side of you and a narrow trail to trudge your way through.  It’s unnerving but it’s also an adrenaline rush once you make it to the other side safely…

D77D7FC1-FF8F-4404-AD29-51B3B5CD2993…once we moved past the Devil’s backbone, the trail continued up and up and up with the views only getting more amazing as we went…

…the last half mile to the summit is brutal. They call Mt. San Antonio “Baldy” for a reason and this stretch is when you really experience that nickname for all its worth.  The sun beats down as you travel on a trail of hard rocks and dirt.  The hike up is very steep and it’s at this point when your legs feel the most fatigued.  We probably stopped and took more breaks during this stretch of the hike than the whole day combined. Finally though, we reached the summit…

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the summit f/ Chapo

51167835-A909-4F94-B2AD-5DA73B10362B…reaching the peak gives you such an intense feeling of pride because you did it, you made it to the top.  The peak is windy and the only cover from it is the rock circles inlaid into the ground.  The wind didn’t bother me though as I plopped down in the dirt with a rock as my pillow and felt my legs begin to relax. I closed my eyes and just listened to the eerie silence of the peak of Mt. San Antonio. We ate our lunch, we relaxed and we took our sweet time savoring the moment.  But eventually Tyler, Chapo and I began to make our way back down the mountain…

0432BC81-7CD5-4C92-89AF-26497EC220EF…the descent was smooth and seemed to go faster but our legs were sore and unsure.  It’s in moments like these during a hike when you really have to focus on your footwork and remain mindful of your surroundings.  Going back down through the devil’s backbone and the ski slope were difficult but we handled them with the vigor of a group ready to be back in the comfort of our car.4EF5DE9F-14F2-4E3A-A349-7E1A411CD59CEAF85240-DBEC-49A0-B2B2-6062095412BC     The Baldy hike is an immensely satisfying hike.  You’re going to be sore, you’re going to be pushed to your limit but it’s all going to be worth it in the end.  I went home that day feeling like I had accomplished something to be proud of and I still feel like that.  This is a trail I definitely want to return to and perhaps even make an annual hike.  If I can do this once a year for the rest of my life, I think I’ll be in pretty good shape.  In short, don’t take this hike lightly but also, don’t let it scare you. Follow your feet, put one foot in front of the other and you’ll be at the top before you know it.  You just gotta get out there and do it. B3FC12EB-E020-42D5-B91A-677A417E20D3   

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