Saturday, May 1, 2010

Hike 53: Mount Baldy Trail

Hiked Friday, Apr 30. I hiked the portion of this trail up to the Sheep Mountain Wilderness sign about six weeks ago. At that time, I inquired at the visitor center and was told you did, in fact, need a wilderness permit to proceed into the wilderness area. However, when I stopped at the VC to get my permit today, I was told no permit was needed. Go figure.

The large parking lot at the VC still has a sign saying they lock the gate at 3:30pm, so I parked on the street, in front of the VC. On my way up the private paved road to the trailhead, I noticed a new sign in front of one of the houses. It was a colorful set of web page and other printouts purported that the tree in front of me is the largest living Big Cone Douglas Fir

According the trailhead sign, it's 1.6 miles to Bear Flat. According to a map I bougt at the VC, it's 1.8 miles from the VC to Bear Flat. That sounds about right, since I can believe it's 2/10 of a mile from the VC to the end of the pavement. From Bear Flat, my map says it's 4.6 miles to Mount Baldy (Mount San Antonio), and little bit less to West Baldy.

My plan was to go as far as I felt safe, then turn around. The shot at the top of this post is what I could see when looking towards Baldy's summit.

The contours on my map ("Mt Baldy & Cocamonga Wilderness Trail Map," Tom Harrison Maps) are too rough to be 100% sure, but since I did get past an area with a very steep drop off to the south, I believe I got to within 4/10 of a mile of the summit of Mount San Antonio. To go further would have required crossing a snow-ice covered area with a steep drop-off, followed by another, longer traverse where a slip would have meant a fast and uncontrolled trip down the mountain.

Clear tracks across that traverse indicated that several people had made this crossing previously. However, I do not use hiking poles, and I don't own crampons or an ice axe. Going further without those accessories would have been foolhearty. Even with them, I'm not sure if the reward would be worth the risk. Instead, I'll just wait three or four more weeks for the snow to melt further.

Still, I got a bit further than I thought I would be able to go, and put in about 11 miles of walking. That was plenty, particularly at this altitude.

For some reason, I think this is a mountain mahogany. It's a tough tree, what ever it is. The bark is twisted and gnarled, similar to what happens to bristlecone and limber pines.

Lichen, growing on rocks near the mountain mahogany.

Taken a little above the Sheep Mountain Wilderness sign, looking towards Mount Wilson.

No comments:

Post a Comment