I had no idea what I was getting into when I suggested climbing Mt. Baldy. I'd heard about it, usually in the context of that's where L.A. residents drive to in the winter months to see snow or even go skiing. I knew there was a trail up there, and thought it sounded like a nice little outing. Ed was happy to do the research for the trip, so luckily I was kept in the dark about what this hike involved, or I probably would have chickened out.
Here's a pic from the drive up, heading for one of the tunnels that goes up the mountain:
Not only do you gain a lot of elevation by driving part way up the mountain, at the end of the road there is a chairlift you can take to "Mount Baldy Notch" and you can start from there. It's still a 6.4 mile hike to the summit with a 2,200 foot elevation gain, so it's not like all the hard work is done.
I found out on the way up that I am now afraid of chairlifts! I'd been looking forward to the trip, and I have skied before so I have done chairlifts, but this time I found being on the chairlift really scary! I wonder if maybe because this is summer and you can see all the sharp rocks down below. This is also an old and rickety chairlift, or so it seemed.
It's also pretty far off the ground at times... scenic though!
Some other folks on the way up:
So, since you are already at over 7,000 feet elevation when you start, the views are spectacular right from the start. This is looking southeast:
This hike follows a ridge called the "Devil's backbone". In places there are steep scree slopes on either side of you just a couple of feet from the path, but I didn't find this scary at all.
Ed put together this panorama of it- it's worth clicking to see it larger:
A few pics of the views and trees on the way up:
OK, this is me panting for air on a break. This is the first time I'd ever hiked at such a high altitude, and I really felt it. I was still coping pretty well here, but once we started heading for the summit I would have to stop and rest every 10 steps or so. I generally have pretty good endurance on hikes, so I knew this was more than me being a wimp, it was the altitude.
This is an interesting part of the trail, it goes right across the scree on one of the slopes:
Heading towards the summit. There's a piece missing as Ed put this together with several photos. Ed was way ahead of me for this part of the hike.
I made it! Me in my floppy hat.
I was so exhausted at the summit, that I didn't even look much at the views while up there. That's not as pathetic as it sounds though, as you have spectacular views the whole way up, and because of the backbone ridge you hike, the views are close to 360 degrees the whole way anyway.
This is me enjoying some dried mangos in one of the wind shelters people have built up there over the years. There's a small population of resident chipmunks that survive on what hikers feed them.
Sure is beautiful...
Approaching the backbone again on the way down. The spot this photo is taken from is actually the scariest part of the hike, the trail is very narrow here and although you can't tell from the photo, the drop off to the right is VERY steep and the footing very loose.
A couple of the stunted, twisted trees:
A view from the chairlift on the way down- as I had suspected, the trip down was way scarier, with the valley dropping off in front of us! Gorgeous view though.
So that was my hike at Mount Baldy. Probably first and last! It was pretty much at the extreme of what I was capable of, due to the elevation gain, and with it being at a high altitude. Still, if I can make peace with the chairlift, I would love to go up again someday, if even just to hike the devil's backbone portion of the trail.