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Solo Hike To Mt Baldy (2nd Time For 2016)

21 10 2016

On an early Monday morning, I woke up at 3:30 AM and drove all the way to the trailhead of Mount Baldy with the thought that I would be the first one to “summit” the peak for the day.

From my house to the trailhead was an easy drive for 45 minutes and it was still dark when I arrived at the Parking Area at Manker Flats. While I was preparing my things (hydration pack and shoes), another vehicle arrived and parked across the road where I was preparing my things. The other vehicle had two hikers in it and they immediately opened their vehicles’ trunk to retrieve their packs and went directly to the trailhead. They were 5 minutes ahead of me when I finally started after taking a pee in one of the Portalets.

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Parking Area Beside The Road

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Trailhead Going To The Mt Baldy Falls

They were wearing headlights as I saw them in front of me for about 200 meters. I was not wearing a headlight and I was confident that the light from the moon could easily illuminate the dirt road towards the commercial establishment at the Ski Lift. Before I was able to hit my first mile, I had already overtaken them after I greeted them. As I moved ahead of them, I could still hear their conversation as they were taking their time for the hike.

Being confident that I was already the first one on the trail, I maintained my hiking pace until I reached the Ski Lift’s Commercial Center. It was already daybreak when I reached the place and nowhere I would find find the two hikers behind me.

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Mt Baldy Ski Lift & Commercial Center

As I passed the Ski Lift’s Commercial Center towards the Devil’s Backbone Trail, I saw a Rescue Truck parked at the end of the Fire Road, the farthest that a four-wheeled vehicle would reach towards the peak of Mt Harwood. I was thinking that those guys aboard in it were just ahead of me but as I saw at the horizon and the trails above me, I would not see any individual/hiker ahead of me towards the peak of Mt Baldy.

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Devil’s Backbone Trail

Looking at a distance ahead of me, I would see the Devil’s Backbone Trail and it looks like a very challenging and intimidating ascending part of the trail where both sides have steep slopes that the lowest portion could not be seen. If anybody would slip or feel dizzy and plunge to any of the sides of the slope, I would suspect that a hiker would be hard to be rescued from atop the trail. But if you are already standing and doing your hike at the said place, you can feel that your courage is slowly taking over your mind and for you to be able to cross this dreaded part of the trail. As you passed this trail, you are rewarded with a higher elevation and a flatter portion of the trail with the peak of Mt Harwood in front of you!

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Mt Harwood’s Peak

I decided not to “peak bag” Mt Harwood as I was trying to be fast as possible in reaching the peak of Mt Baldy. As I was hiking on this flatter portion of the trail, I had my first sip of water and I started to feel some perspiration on my back as I was wearing my Uniqlo Water Repellant Windbreaker.

Finally, I was on my last mile before the peak of Mt Baldy! After about 200 meters, I saw a hiker going down from the trail and I said to myself that the guy could have started way ahead of me! He looks like he is a good hiker with all those beard and moustache on his face and the hiking boots he was wearing. He was not using trekking poles. A simple greeting and look on each others eyes as we met were part of the usual practice among hikers and it feels a good sign of showing respect to one another on the outdoors.

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At Mt Baldy’s Peak With Piles Of Rocks With Orange Ribbons

On my final 100 meters towards the peak of Mt Baldy, I met two hikers with backpacks and trekking poles telling me that a helicopter will be arriving at the peak in 45 minutes and my understanding of the message was that there was an urgency for me to reach the peak and spend a short/quick time at the peak. I said thank you to the two hikers as I moved faster and closer to the peak.

Few meters from the peak, I have observed that there were lots of stakes with orange ribbons tied on them that were placed surrounding the peak of the mountain. I concluded that those ribbons were markers for the pilots of the helicopters for them to visually know where exactly they would land. On the peak, I saw three (3) guys with big backpacks and orange jackets whom I assumed to be those who rode in the Rescue Truck parked along the trail going to the mountain. They were lying on their backs and talking to each other and not minding about my arrival in the area. They were inside the area where those pile of rocks formed in a semi-circle which I believed is being used for those hikers who would set their tent and sleep for over night in the area. The pile of rocks is so high that it can protect strong winds from hitting a pitched tent inside the semi-circle area.

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Mandatory “Selfie” At The Peak’s Marker

I could still remember where one of my ultra friends who lives in Los Angeles had to stay and camp at the peak of Mt Baldy for one week as part of his training for the 2015 Angeles Crest 100-Mile Endurance Race. He would pitch his tent at the peak and then hiked and run towards the Ski Lift’s Commercial Center and then back to the peak during the duration of his stay in the mountain. I guess, camping in the said area is FREE as long as one has an Adventure Pass displayed on ones vehicle at the trailhead. As a result of his training, the guy finished the race in less than 24 hours!

I spent almost 30 minutes at the peak, taking some “selfies” and eating my nutrition bars/trail mix fruits & nuts, before starting my descent from the peak. On my way back, I started to move faster and run the flatter sections. If the descending part of the trail is smooth and without any roots or rocks, I would run and quicker with my pace.

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“Selfie” At The Bell Near The Commercial Center

I did not stop at the Ski Lift’s Commercial Center as they were still closed but three (3) SUVs suddenly arrived at the area full with “newly-recruited” Park Rangers and they were instructed to proceed to the establishments. I said to myself that I had to run 3.5 miles down to trailhead and be able to finish my hike before 10:00 AM.

As I was running down along the Fire Road, I could hear the sound of an approaching Helicopter to the mountain but sad to say that I could no longer have the view of the peak of Mt Baldy. Whatever, the activity that was being done in the area was part of the regular training being done in response to any contingency or emergency situation that is usually being experienced among hikers in the area. This is what I call being prepared and work’s efficiency among those people responsible in the safety and protection of the parks.

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Mandatory Pose After The Hike Overlooking The Mt Baldy Falls

At 10:30 AM, I was driving on my way back to the house in Downtown, Los Angeles.

My next plan will be to pitch a tent at the peak and sleep thereat for an overnight stay!

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Hike & Run To Mt Baldy (2016)

24 08 2016

Almost every time I visit and stay in Los Angeles, California, I always make a schedule to trek to the peak of Mt Baldy. I have read a lot of blogs and FB status of running friends in Los Angeles that they would go and hike up to the peak of the said mountain. One of my ultra running friends, Benjamin Gaetos, is a regular visitor of this place and one time, I asked him for directions in going to Mt Baldy. And he generously stated the directions and the things to be required to be able to park ones vehicle near the trailhead. This was 4-5 years ago. From then, I was a regular visitor/hiker to Mt Baldy (Mt San Antonio).

Coming from Downtown, Los Angeles, I would drive to Highway 2 North and enter Highway 134 until it merges to Highway 210 East going to Pasadena up to Azusa/La Verne area. I have to exit at Baseline Road, turn Left at the Stop Light/Intersection and then drive towards Padua Street. At Padua Street, turn Right until I would reach the Mt Baldy Road. Turn right at Mt Baldy Road and go north, passing through the big lawns and nice houses in Claremont, until I would reach Manker Flats. A few yards (along the paved road) above Manker Flats, there is a road on the left with Portalets and within the said vicinity is where anybody could park their personal vehicle. The trailhead is the start of the road called “Mt San Antonio (Baldy) Falls Road”.

San Antonio Falls Trailhead

San Antonio Falls Trailhead (BR’s Photo)

Trailhead

Trailhead With Four (4) Portalets (BR’s Photo)

However, one has to display an “Adventure Pass” on Dashboard of the Vehicle to be able to park in this hiking destination. The “Adventure Pass” can be bought in any of the REI Stores in Los Angeles and some of the Outdoor Stores in the area. It costs $35 which is valid for One Year. One-time Day Pass is also available for the price of $5.

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Parking Area (Side Of The Road). Adventure Pass Needed (BR’s Photo)

On my first hike, I would follow the “Fire/Dirt Road” going up to the mountain from the trailhead by following where the Ski Lift would end. At the end of the Ski Lift which has commercial establishments and Public Toilet, I would turn left on another Dirt Road that would lead me to the Devil’s Backbone Trail, Mt Harwood, and to the peak of Mt Baldy. Round Trip distance would be 14 miles and it would take me almost 8 hours for the first time that I hiked to the peak.

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Ski Lift Commercial Establishment/Water Refilling Station (BR’s Photo)

But later on, on my yearly visits, I would be introduced by running friends on some of the shorter distance and steeper trails towards to the peak of the mountain.

For this year’s visit, it will be my 5th visit to “peak bag” the mountain. And I could make it with my 6th “peak bag” before I would leave Los Angeles for Manila.

Rowell Ramos, an ultrarunner from Los Angeles, invited me to join their group, for my 5th hike to the said mountain. For Rowell and his friends, it is their “bread & butter” as they would peak bag the mountain almost every week. Rowell would sometimes hike alone by starting early in the morning and then before 10:00 AM, he is done with his hike.

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Very Steep Trail & Impossible To Run Or Jog

I joined Rowell, Peachy Poso, and Rico Bagayawa on this hike which was done on the first Saturday of August 2016. We met and assembled at Manker Flats at 6:00 AM and we started to hike as soon as possible. We took the steepest trail leading to Mt Baldy where we veered left after hiking along the Mt Antonio Falls Road for about a mile. But before going to the said mountain, we “peak bagged” Mt Harwood first which is one mile away from Mt Baldy. This “new” trail experience was very challenging as I have to stop along the way for me to adjust slowly to a higher elevation. For the past weeks before this hike, I’ve been running on the road and never had the chance to accumulate vertical distance in preparation for this hike. However, slowly along the way, I was able to adjust my breathing as I positioned myself at the back of the group.

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Brief Rests & Stops To Adjust The Body To Higher Elevation

We started to meet the gusty winds from Mt Harwood but the wind temperature was not too cold that I would be able not to use my Windbreaker/Jacket. After a brief stop at the peak of Mt Harwood, we immediately proceeded to Mt Baldy. I was telling to the group that the same intensity of the wind was the same wind that stopped the race in this year’s TransLantau 100 in Hongkong. After a short descent from Mt Harwood, we were on our final assault to the peak of Mt Baldy. After 30 minutes of relentless hike, we finally reached the marker of San Antonio or popularly known as “Mt Baldy”.

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Short Downhill Run From Mt Harwood

It is self-explanatory that the mountain is called as such because it is devoid of any kind of vegetation, except for a few shrubs on the side of the mountain. From a distance, you can see see its peak as whitish in color.

I think we stayed at the peak for about 30 minutes, taking some of our pictures and talking to some of the other hikers who happen to be friends of Peachy Poso. I was able to eat my energy bar and drink some of my water.

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Final Assault To The Peak Of Mt Baldy

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Finally, At The Peak of Mt Baldy (Rico, Rowell, Peachy, & BR)

We were trying to locate where Mt Baden-Powell was located in relation to Mt Baldy as the 2016 Angeles Crest 100-Mile Endurance Run was being held on that day that we were in Mt Baldy. I was supposed to be in that race but because of lack of training, I opted not to join the said race.

From the peak, we descended via the Devil’s Backbone Trail all the way to the Ski Lift Commercial Area. Since it was all descending trail, we took advantage to run and jog until we reached the commercial establishment. We had some water refill on the public faucet and ate some Empanada brought by Rowell Ramos. After a brief rest, Rowell and Peachy had to continue their trek to the Triple T Peaks which is another 10 miles before reaching the trailhead while Rico and I had to return to the Mt Baldy Falls Road Trailhead which has a distance of 3.5 miles from the Ski Lift Commercial Center.

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Descending Run From Mt Baldy

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Running Along The Devil’s Backbone Trail (Do not look at your sides!)

Rico and I were done before noon time and we parted ways. I was able to hike and run a distance of 10.4 miles with a total elevation of 4,937 feet. The details of my hike & run could be seen here—https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1291507392.

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Filipino Empanada As Trail Food

I promised to be back to this mountain for another solo hike and run before leaving for Manila.

If you happen to be in Los Angeles and would like to hike a mountain, Mount San Antonio (Mt Baldy) is a must!

(Note: Pictures and Empanada Were Provided By Rowell Ramos)








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