The Final Countdown suddenly blares through the void from my phone. Despite being nearly unconscious, I'm blessed with the god like dexterity bestowed upon man only when silencing an alarm. My comrade Zach had worked until 11pm the night prior, making our supply run and last minute packing last until an ungodly hour in the wee morning. 8am came round very unwelcome. As images of illusions faded from my weary eyes and consciousness took over, due more to the energetic German shepherd on my bed than the swedish 80s rock, I remembered the days purpose; Mt. Baldy needed climbing. Pants assumed , shoes laced, glasses donned and hearts steeled we set out. After a few hours of talking in strange accents and many declarations of my loathing for other drivers we arrived at the Manker Flats trailhead. We drew on our packs and were unpleasantly reminded of their heft. We had no clue as to where the trail actually was, the signage was quite poor, luckily a family who apparently knew where they were going arrived just in time to point us in the right Direction. With heavy backs and resolute hearts Zach, Eva and I set forth.
A short jaunt later and we hit a turn off for San Antonio falls, considering we had ample time to summit our mountain we decided to check it out. Pleasantly, Despite it being the dead of summer the falls were still flowing with much gusto. Eva lapped up as much as she could stomach, we took a few pictures and had our pictures taken by a kindly old man who decided since I had a rather large camera strapped to my chest I probably knew how everything functioned on his random camera that I'd never used before. Upon figuring out how to operate the video function of his camera we resumed our ascent.
The first portion of the hike is up a service road used to access the Ski lodge and lifts. It's rather boring trudging up a road which is probably one of the reasons we made a terrible decision. After a short while on the road we came across a trail named "Mt. Baldy Trail" Seeing as how that was our destination it seemed like the logical course to follow. What we didn't realize was that this trail was generally used to descend the summit and while being much shorter it was much steeper than the trail we had originally planned to use. Neither Zach or I had hiked recently and the overnight packs we were carrying were more weight than we were accustomed to, so our butts were thoroughly kicked. About three quaters of the way up Eva began to falter. This was the longest hike she had been on and her paws weren't quite up to the task. But we all pushed through and soon found ourselves at the peak.
As the name Implies Mt. Baldy is rather barren at the peak. Save for a few rock shelters that previous hikers have erected there's not much else to look at on the mountain. The view however, is spectacular. From the neighboring peaks of San Gorgonio and San Jacinto to the surrounding mountain range that sprawls beneath Mt. Baldy the views are breathtaking. You can spend hours gazing below and that's exactly what we did. All the work of carrying ourselves and our gear up the mountain was but a trifle compared to the sheer grandeur of the setting of the sun over the mountains.
As the sun set our weariness finally took precedence. Eva in particular was wiped out and ready for a good nights sleep. Sadly that would not come.
As night fell we set up our little shanty town on the side of the peak. Zach had brought a small hammock and set it up between two little trees little realizing just how windy the night would be. The wind raged all night long and kept sleep at bay. Zach had made the wise decision to forgo a sleeping bag and bring only a polyester blanket. The wind was particularly cruel to him. I on the other hand, was snug as a bug in a rug in my mummy bag. If you're planning a overnight trip in the mountains bring a bag. after many sleepless hours day broke and we were blessed with another round of gorgeous views. Once we had taken in our full of the mornings beauty we packed up and set out on our return journey. Despite the trips difficult nature, the accomplishment of bagging another peak was reward enough. The phenomenal views and fantastic photos were one heck of a cherry on top though.