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Posts Tagged ‘Mt. Baldy’

My husband Mike and I have a long history of crazy outdoor sports adventures over our 29 years together (next year we celebrate the 30th anniversary of our first date as high school sweethearts!) Riding mountain bikes 17.5 miles around the single track Potawatomi Trail in Pinckney Recreation Area in Michigan? No problem! Snowshoeing up Mount Kearsarge in the White Mountains in New Hampshire? We were back in time for a delicious dinner at the hotel. Flying in a glider over Oahu? Um, yes, but maybe not so many acrobatic tricks? Cross-country skiing all 21 miles roundtrip to Glacier Point and back in Yosemite National Park? I cross-country skied as a kid in the midwest, surely I could make it? (We did make it, but I have never been so sore in my life – worse than post-marathon soreness). Scuba diving in the Pacific Ocean off Kauai? No need for prior experience! Waterskiing behind our very own jet boat on Lake Mohave on the Colorado River? The cold water took my breath away but we loved it. Riding 34 miles on the Kal-Haven rail trail from Kalamazoo to South Haven in one day, staying overnight at a hotel and riding 34 miles back the next day? The hotel shuttle driver thought for sure we would be begging for a ride back and he could charge us an exorbitant fare, but the bike ride back the second day might have been easier than the first day’s ride!

So when Mike suggested that we hike Mt. Baldy (more formally known as Mount San Antonio) in the dark at 1 a.m. so we could view the Perseid meteor shower and then watch the sunrise from the peak, I readily agreed. We had hiked Mt. Baldy once before in the daytime in August 2015 and even dragged along our daughters who were 7, 10, and 13 at the time (pro tip (actually, crazy amateur tip): 7 is a little young to hike Mt. Baldy – not only is it a long day trip, but I had to keep a literal death grip on my 7-year-old’s hand to keep her from slipping off the Devil’s Backbone and other treacherous sections of the trail). Mt. Baldy stands out as the highest peak in the San Gabriel Mountains.

I set my alarm for 11:30 p.m. and tried unsuccessfully to go to bed at 8:30 p.m. We got out the door by midnight and arrived at 1 a.m. at Manker Campground and the trailhead (we chose to walk up the fire access road to the Ski Hut Trail, across Baldy Bowl to the summit, then loop back down across Devil’s Backbone to the Baldy Notch, where you can take a chairlift down to save yourself four miles of hiking). The hike up from the trailhead to the peak is four-and-a-half miles but we managed to add nearly half a mile when we lost the trail in the dark a couple of times. With snack stops and meteor-viewing breaks, it took us four hours to reach the summit at 10,064 feet. We had to hang out there for an hour before the sunrise, and unfortunately it was windy and cold at the peak. This was the view for the entire hour before the sun rose up over the horizon:

Pre-dawn on Mount Baldy summit

And here is the sunrise at about 6 a.m.:

Mt. Baldy sunrise

We were grateful to see the sun come up not so much for the colorful sunrise display as for the warmth the sun brought!

At 6:40 a.m. we started our descent along the Devil’s Backbone. There are some hazardous sections along the ridge, but they seemed easy compared to the hike up in the dark!

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My 15-year-old and me on the Devil’s Backbone trail

At certain points it felt like we were on another planet with the sparse, rocky terrain above the tree line.

Devil's Backbone trail

We reached the lodge at Baldy Notch three miles later in about 1 hour 50 minutes. We paid $15 each for a one-way ticket down the chairlift (not that they checked that we paid, but I was happy to be honest about it). Then we had a half-mile walk back to our car at the trailhead. We ended up hiking a total of about nine miles in six-and-a-half hours. We did several things right (took maps of the trail, appropriate hiking boots, packs, headlamps with extra batteries, and plenty of water, juice, Gatorade and snacks), and learned that we should prepare better for severe cold and winds on the summit.

If you want to do this hike, either in the daytime or at night, do your homework by reading all about the trails on hiking sites like Trail to Peak, and be sure to check the weather conditions not for the village of Mt. Baldy but for the summit itself! This hike is best done in summer when all the snow has melted, but serious mountaineers do attempt it in the winter. Sadly, there have been several deaths on Mount Baldy in the past few winters.

Stay tuned for more posts on mountaineering, because my 15-year-old and I are training to hike Mount Whitney (the highest peak in the 48 contiguous states) next summer! We are taking an informational class at REI (not an affiliate link) in September to learn how to apply for a hiking permit and what exactly we need to do to get ready. And as part of our training, we are hoping to run a marathon together in the spring (maybe the Eugene Marathon? Most marathons require the entrants to be at least 16 years of age so we are looking at races in late April or early May 2018).

Have you hiked Mt. Baldy or Mt. Whitney? Ever run the Eugene Marathon? Thoughts and opinions please!

 

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After Mike and I started dating in high school, he taught me how to snow ski. Fast forward a whopping 24 years and now we have three daughters who ski with us. Yes, even the four-year-old, who was first on skis when she was two and skiing on her own by the time she was three.

Ballerina Skier rocks the slopes!

Ballerina Skier rocks the slopes!

That ladybug can really fly down the bunny hill!

That ladybug can really fly down the bunny hill!

For the past couple of years we’ve had annual ski passes for Snow Valley, but this year we decided to forgo the passes and spend the money on a bigger trip at a different resort (to be decided). We still like to go up for the occasional day at Snow Valley, and that’s how we got interested in SkiForFree.com (this is not a sponsored post). I was skeptical when I heard there was a place to get discount ski lift tickets for five different California ski resorts: Snow Valley, Mammoth, Homewood Mountain, China Peak and Mt. Baldy. Frankly, I thought it was a scam. After researching it further though, I discovered it’s legitimate. The only thing to be aware of is that the site charges an additional facility fee per ticket (last time I checked it was $5), and a ticketing fee ($3) so the total discount for Snow Valley is a little less than the stated 50% for weekend and holiday tickets or 60% for midweek, non-holiday tickets. You need a promo code to purchase the tickets. The promotion code can be found at the Ski For Free Facebook page (last I checked the promo code was “board”). If you want the best possible deal on discount ski tickets, make sure you compare prices first by checking the ski resort’s home page and Facebook page for any deals, and other discount ski ticket sites like Liftopia.com (which offers discounts at resorts around the United States and Canada — the tickets might be cheaper there (without charging facility or ticket service fees) but the catch is that the tickets are date-specific: you must buy them at least one day in advance and purchase them for a specific date, whereas Ski For Free tickets can be bought the same day and are good any weekend/holiday/weekday depending on the ticket type).

I found the Ski For Free website to be easy to navigate. I added the tickets to my order, paid by credit card, and printed out the receipts for the tickets. I took those receipts along with my photo ID and credit card to the ticket booth at the resort and had no trouble redeeming the receipts for lift passes for a weekend day. For four tickets (my youngest daughter skis for free), we saved about $74.

My four-year-old and Mike on the ski lift at Snow Valley.

My four-year-old and Mike on the ski lift at Snow Valley.

Do you snow ski? Have you ever tried SkiForFree.com or any other discount ski ticket site?

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Guess who is a happy happy girl when she gets to run on new-to-her trails! Last week I had to go to the dentist to get shiny clean teeth. A while back my dentist had the nerve to move his office away so it’s half an hour from my house. That drive is a giant pain in the patoot, but it presented an opportunity to try out some nearby trails at Peters Canyon Regional Park in Orange, California.

Peek-a-boo view of the lake on the Lake View Loop Trail

Peek-a-boo view of the lake on the Lake View Loop Trail

The wide dirt trails at Peters Canyon make for excellent beginner trail runs. I started out with the easy Lake View Trail, which provides nice views of both the lake and the mountains.

I just love the contrast of the palm tree with the view of snow on top of Mt. Baldy in the background!

I just love the contrast of the palm tree with the view of snow on top of Mt. Baldy in the background!

Soon I veered off onto Peters Canyon Trail and then linked up with the East Ridge View Trail and the Gnatcatcher Trail. “Easy” became “difficult” in a hurry!

You call that a hill? Just wait until to get to the top of the East View Ridge Trail!

You call that a hill? Just wait until you near the top of the East View Ridge Trail! Photo by OCParks_CA.

By the end of my meandering I had run 6.2 miles in 1:07. I love how hill work is another form of speed work, even when you’re not going very fast! Some of the hills along the East View Ridge Trail were so steep that I could walk up faster than I could run.

I would definitely go back to Peters Canyon Regional Park. Enough people utilize the trails on the middle of a weekday that I never felt unsafe. The beautiful lake and mountain views alternate with interesting views of the surrounding homes — I mean, mansions. Wow there are some spectacular estates tucked into Peters Canyon! Tip #1: bring double the amount of water you think you’ll need! The park entrance features two drinking fountains but the rest of the park does not have any water. With the exposed trail in sunny conditions, you can become dehydrated very quickly even in winter. I took 20 ounces of water in my bottle and should have carried another bottle. Tip #2: grab a park map at the entrance as the trails get a little confusing in spite of the trail signs. I took a nice unintentional detour on the Basin Trail. Tip #3: Parking costs $3 at the main entrance at the north end of the park, but if you park at the south end you can park for free on the street. Tip #4: bathrooms are located at the main park entrance and porta potties are available out on Peters Canyon Trail.

Do you run on trails? I haven’t done many trails but I find I love it when I get the chance! Question: At what point should I invest in trail running shoes? Do you have a brand that you recommend?

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