Yesterday Penelope and I hiked to the top of Mt. Wilson. It was a tough hike, but well worth the views, plus it's always nice to get a good 6 hour workout!
We started our hike from the trailhead on Mt. Wilson Trail road at roughly 9:30 a.m. The first two miles of the trail was highly trafficked with dozens of day hikers. This part of the trail is also barren thanks to a recent fire and in the morning the sun really beats down on you.
After a mile and a half we passed a fork down to the First Water swimming hole. Once past First Water we hardly saw any other hikers.
3.5 miles into the trip we reached Orchard Camp. This was the halfway point so we stopped and had some snacks and hydrated. We met two mountain bikers at Orchard Camp, they were the only folks on bikes we saw during out hike.
After snacking we headed up to the Winter Creek trail intersection. The last half mile before the intersection was the hardest part of the hike. The trail was narrow and exposed at times and there was little tree cover to shade us.
Once at Winter Creek trail we were excited to only have another 1.7 miles to go and we headed up the half mile and 500 feet of elevation gain of switchbacks to the old Mt. Wilson Toll Road. We followed the old road a half mile and then we took the small trail the final .7 mile up to the peak.
I always let Penelope lead because I tend to walk to fast and tire myself out and she's great at pacing us. For the last leg of the hike she was doing double time and we made it up to the peak quickly.
Once at the top I saw the parking lot and the tourists that drove up and said, "Wait you can drive up here?" Of course I knew there was a road up, but it was still funny at the time. Once at the peak we sat at a picnic bench and ate our lunches before heading down.
Going down the mountain is obviously faster than going up. What took us over three and a half ours to go up took us just over 2 hours to come down. We arrived at the trailhead seven hours after we started out, which includes roughly an hour for our snack and lunch breaks.
So the final stats: 6 hours of hiking time, 14 miles and 4,700 feet of elevation gain. It was a fun hike, although not as visually stimulating as Mt. Baldy. I'm not sure if this will be a repeat hike, but we definitely plan to drive up and do the observatory tour at some point.
San Gorgonio rises above the smog in the distance in this photo taken from the peak of Mt. Wilson on Sunday.
Dave and Penelope stand happily atop Mt. Wilson after hiking to the top in just over 3 hours on Sunday.
A wide array of antennas cover a hill close to the peak of Mt. Wilson.
Three weeks ago, my lovely wife Penelope and I hiked Los Angeles County's tallest peak, Mt. San Antonio, also known as Mt. Baldy. It was a great day hike, with a hefty elevation gain and beautiful views of Southern California.
We started out later than we had originally planned, this was due to me sleeping in. I realized later that I slept in because I was worried about being able to complete the hike.
The route we took was 12 miles round trip, with over 4,000 feet of elevation gain. Those 4,000 fee up occurred in the first four miles of the hike.
We parked at Manker Flats and took the fire road up until we reached the Baldy Bowl trail. The trail cuts almost straight up from the road and is easy to miss, but we had a picture which helped us find it.
We headed up the trail for about two miles when we reached the San Antonio Ski Hut, also known as the Baldy Hut. At the hut we met some cool folks from the San Diego SAR team who fed us fresh baked cookies. After hanging out for a few minutes at the hut we continued on up the Baldy Bowl Trail.
Shortly after leaving the hut we reached some very steep switchbacks. It was tough going, and for the first time I can remember on a hike, Penelope was in no mood to make small talk. After we crested the last switchback she was feeling better and the chatting resumed, thankfully.
A few miles and another couple thousand feet of elevation gain later we were at the top. It took us roughly three hours to get to the summit. We sat down and enjoyed our well-deserved lunch. After eating we hydrated, put on a layer and headed down the Devil's Backbone Trail.
After the first part where the trail got narrow, I said, this isn't so bad, I wonder why people write that it is scary. A few miles later we got to the actual backbone, which was only a few feet wide with steep cliffs on both sides. It's not too bad in the summer, but according to my SAR teammates, it's quite frightening in winter when it's a giant ice-covered cornice of death.
When we made it down to the ski area we contemplated taking the chairlift down, but decided against it and continued down the fire road. The fire road isn't the most visually stimulating area and its long, gradual slope made for a somewhat boring end to the hike.
By the time we got to back to the car we were ready to get home, relax and have some tapas at Ciudad. We were exhausted, but happy that we made it, the whole hike took us just about 6 hours round trip.
Baldy was a great hike and we're looking forward to doing it again soon. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a vigorous day hike.
The sky is clear in the view looking out from the first mile of the Baldy Bowl trail.
This steel marker sits on the peak of Mt. San Antonio, AKA Mt. Baldy, the tallest peak in Los Angeles County.
Penelope starts down the Devil's Backbone trail after reaching the summit of Mt. Baldy.
The hike is nice and short, a little over five miles round trip. The trail is mostly unshaded and gains about 1,500 feet of elevation on the way up. We didn't get going until around 11:00 a.m. at which time it was quite warm.
Once we made it to the top the hard work was totally worth it. The Mount Lowe Railway was once an amazing railway built to service 3 small resorts. It ended up being plagued by various disasters and shutting down around World War II.
The ruins on top are quite interesting and include foundations, a cistern (see below) and the remains of the cable wheel and part of a train. If you like ruins and deserted places you will enjoy this hike.
We plan on returning, but in cooler weather and heading to the top of Mt. Lowe, which is another 3 miles past White City. If you go on this hike, bring plenty of water!
Penelope stands on the edge of the Echo Mountain House's cistern after hiking for a bit over an hour.
Click here to see more photos from our Mt. Lowe / White City hike.
On Friday night a text message came in informing me that our scheduled training / certification was on hold due to a search call-out. I headed out to San Bernardino to the Sheriff's Office / Jail where we store our team gear. We camped on the floor of the SO's conference room and headed up to Mount Baldy at 4:30 AM.
At around 6:00 AM we were given our assignments. I was assigned team leader for the first time. Our assignment involved riding up the chair lifts to the top of the Mt. Baldy ski area and then hiking down through Cedar Canyon to the Icehouse Canyon Trail [see the red track in the image above].
For the first half of the hike down we wore our crampons due to the slippery (although not treacherous) conditions. For the second half of our mission we walked on south facing scree slopes and boulder fields that had only small patches of snow covering them.
It was a good hike, although our roughly 50 pound packs made the trip physically taxing. When we finally hit an actual trail instead of just hiking through a drainage, it was a welcome relief. Unfortunately our team didn't find the subject. According to this article his body was found by two hikers.
Mt. Saint Helens is producing earthquakes and has changed significantly in the past 24 hours and there is an increasing risk of a hazardous event which has prompted the Washington University of Washington Dept. of Earth and Space Science to issue a Notice of Volcanic Unrest.