2013 Mt. Baldy Trip Report
August 4, 2013
On Sunday we completed a hike to the top of Mt. San Antonio (Old Baldy). For scouts we had Buddy B, Hari G, Russell L, Andy L and Davy L. For adult leaders we had Mr. Garg, Mrs. Morris and Mr. Luoma.
The drive up to the Mt. Baldy Lifts took one hour and 15 minutes and took us through a bunch of hair pin turns. At the lift parking lot, we secured the round trip lift tickets and walked up to the ski lift. You could feel the thinness of the air as we walked and we were only at 6,500 feet. Onto the lift we went, going high into the air up the mountain for a mile while gaining 1,300 feet. When we stopped at the top, we were at the Top of the Notch Restaurant and were now at 7,800 feet. By now we were getting used to the thinner air and didn't really think about it any more. We headed into the restaurant, got ourselves organized and at 10:00 AM hit the trail. The scouts took off at a brisk pace heading up and up, leaving the adults to bring up the rear. We followed the trail along side of a nonoperational ski lift which took us up a steep route all the way to the top of the lift. By the time we got there, we were all very winded. That trail broke us in right away. After that, the trail mercifully leveled out a little and we entered the Devil's Backbone phase. The whole trail is made of rocks pushed up very high with steep drop offs on both sides. The trail was only maybe 4 to 6 feet wide. It really felt like we were walking on the backbone of some huge animal. The views to either side were spectacular but we pretty much just kept our eyes on the trail.
Once we got near the top of Baldy we saw why it had it's name. The pine trees that were so abundant down below kind of faded out and all that was left were some scrub bushes and even those didn't grow on the very top. When we were about half a mile from the top, Old Baldy had another surprise for us. The trail grew very steep again and made us struggle to get all the way to the top. We just kept putting one foot in front of the other and eventually even the adults made it up to the brass marker at 10,064 feet. Of course the scouts were already there all resting at the top of the mountain. It took us 3 hours which was pretty average but even though the trail was only 3.2 miles long and only gained 2,200 feet, it seemed a lot harder than Mt. Wilson or Saddleback, both of which were 8 miles long with over 4,000 feet of gain. Baldy is really steep at the very beginning and right before the top and just clobbers you with the altitude. Once we got to the top, we soaked in the views all around us. We relaxed on the rocks, ate our lunch and just rested and talked. Some of the scouts laid out on the rocks and took a snooze. We were on the top for 50 minutes and once we did our picture taking to document our achievement, we headed back down the trail. The temperature was pleasant and we had a light breeze while we hustled along. We made good time and got back to the restaurant in less than an hour and a half. Most everyone rang the huge brass bell that we had been hearing for the past hour. After that, an even better return ride down the ski lift and into the cars for the return ride to Irvine.