Massive Mount San Antonio- or Old Baldy if you prefer- is the grand climax of the 50-mile backbone of the San Gabriels. No other peak in the range rises to challenge its 10,064′ elevation. From its summit you look over a good part of Souther California- an expanse of mountain, desert and coastal lowland. On those rare days when haze does not muddy the atmosphere, the hiker on its boulder-strewn top can make out the tawny ramparts of the Southern High Sierra, 160 miles distant.
-From the guidebook “100 Hikes in the San Gabriels”
I’ve been wanting to climb Baldy for a while, and so jumped at it when a friend suggested we do it. Plans were made and changed, a date fixed, and on Sunday- Chaitanya, Mladen and I set out on a hike to the peak.
We decided to do a loop, take the shorter, steeper path to the top(4.5 miles, 3800′ elevation gain) and the longer path down. We left at 7-45 in the morning, and started on the trail proper at around 9.
The trail was beautiful, probably the best I have encountered yet in these mountains. It wasn’t difficult technically, but was by no means gentle and had the most breathtaking views. But what made things perfect was the weather – it was cloudy with a light mist that made the surroundings pretty without obstructing the view. And best of all it wasn’t hot at all.
We climbed reasonably fast- took about 2 and 1/2 hours to reach the peak, a respectable 1500′ gain per hour. I stopped quite often and played with my camera. Tried wide aperture in mist, and exposure compensation and all that. I really like the manual control options my camera has and I am getting better at using them. I have actually stopped using ‘Auto’ altogether.
It was great to reach the peak! Here is an excited Chaitanya-
After a while we started out descent. The route was different, but no less scenic.
And then the weather changed. Rain drops started falling, and soon a full-fledged thunderstorm started. Mladen and I decided that the feel of water on skin was an appealing idea and took of our shirts(Chaitanya kept his on). And then all three of us had the idea of running down. We ran the remaining four miles in hard rain and must have looked like lunatics to the few people who were using the ski-lift. Finally we reached the car an hour later, drenched, exhausted, and having had a rollicking time.