Hiking Mt. Baldy

I didn’t get to post anything yesterday because I spent the day high-up in the clouds, climbing Mount Baldy. It’s about a 45 minute drive outside of Los Angeles and an all day adventure. Modern Hiker has all the logistical details and maps HERE. For me and my friends this is more of a training hike for Mt. Whitney, so we brought along our big backpacks and weighed it down with water. It was quite a challenge.

The hike begins as a fire road and then becomes a steep uphill trek. On big hikes like this one it’s easiest to focus on the next “marker” and not the top (since it’s so far away). Our first marker is the midway point to the top, which is the Sierra Clubs green cabin. When we started it was a tiny dot… and we inched closer and closer.

.. until finally we reached this cabin. For a small donation you can use their chairs to rest and fill up on water. There is often a guide staying at this cabin so you can learn something about the mountain and ask questions. They even have an outhouse. This cabin is a great place to rest.

I was told that specific Sierra Club guides have a key to this cabin, and you can event pay a little money to stay here over night if you wish. The above photo shows the sleeping quarters and the view from the cabin. On the first floor of the cabin is a sink for getting fresh water, cooking, and doing laundry. In the main room clothes were drying on lines.

This was just a quick resting point for us, as we had to keep moving. Shortly after the above photo was taken, we ran into a rattle snake. Thankfully I was in the rear and didn’t have to see the snake, as my heart would have leapt out of my chest and jumped off the cliff we were hiking.

It was quite steep, and reminded me of the last scene of the Sound Of Music as they climb through the Alps (except we obviously weren’t being chased by Nazis).

We took a short detour so we could take some fun photos by the ledge that we had been climbing toward. Getting to the top of this ledge was the next “marker” in my mind.

From that ledge, the next big push was to get to the top, which for a while was so far away it was completely out of sight. It’s quite disheartening to not even be able to see the top. But higher and higher we went, just as breathing became much harder. Every breath was quickly followed by another. And I had to take short pauses every few steps. I might be slow, but I kept moving with my mind on the prize.

Finally, we made it to the top! We could see clouds (behind me in the photo) where lightening was striking. We had a quick lunch (as you never know if the clouds could suddenly shift towards you), caught our breath, took some photos and then headed on our way.

As hard as climbing up a mountain is, climbing down to me is SO much scarier. Gravity is pushing you down the hill, and I find my footing gets quite shaky. I have a very real fear of heights which I’ve been working so hard to eliminate. Unfortunately, I let my fear get the best of me as we hiked along the path that dropped down on either side. I had to pull myself back together and just get through it. I know that in order to learn/grow you have to do some scary/hard things, and doing this hike really helped me, despite the trouble I had in the moment.

We finally reached our next marker, the ski lift and restaurant. Here we took a restroom break, ordered some food and put our feet up. While two members of the group continued on and took the fire road to the bottom, me (and my badly blistered feet) opted for the $10 lift ride down to the car. I know we won’t have that option on Whitney, but I’m so glad I took the ride down on this hike.

Mt. Whitney is in two weeks for me, so I have to really kick it into gear. Thankfully I’m funemployed (for a little while) so I have the time to get some good hikes in.

Mt. Baldy Tubing Adventure

A while back my friends Lindsey and Michelle (and I) got a KGB deal (like Groupon) to go tubing at Mt. Baldy. The photo on the coupon was an adult extreme tuber, so we were stoked for this adventure of extreme tubing. My friends and I set a date (this past Saturday) to go use the coupon. They tube in sessions, 8-10a 11-1p and 2-4p (times approximate). We decided to do the 12p session, and met at Michelle’s house at 11a to carpool out to Azusa.

I checked with my friends a head of time to figure out an appropriate tubing outfit, as I haven’t been tubing since I was 7 and that was in my backyard. We all agreed we would look silly together as none of us owned the right clothing. I decided to purchase snow pants like I used to wear as a kid, so early Saturday I went to Big 5 where I was disappointed to learn they’ve shipped out most of their cold weather gear. I call my friend in a panic (as I needed to be at Michelle’s house!) and she says to go to Sport Chalet.

You can see I got to the store just as they were opening. The sales lady was super helpful and helped me find the cheapest deal (as I didn’t need anything fancy). She has me looking at $45 snowboarding style pants. They even have some great 40% off sales. Sweet! I find a section of snow pants that have the bib, and despite the sales clerk leading me away from those pants I can’t help but think this is what I’m supposed to get. Keep in mind I was 7 the last time I went tubing, so in my head my 7 year old snow suit was what I was looking to match. So for $40 I got a new pair of snow pants with a high bib.

I get to Michelle’s house late and walk in to see Lindsey and Michelle in the most sporty looking tubing outfits. They look like professional tubers. I’m wearing a hodge-podge of clothing. I look like someone who raided the $1 bin at the Salvation Army. Oh well. It’s too late to do anything about it, so I get into the back seat of Michelle’s car and we hit the road. It took a lot longer to get there than we anticipated. We were late for our session and I was crazy car sick. So much motion sickness. So shaky.

We finally get there, and after a printing mishap and a rough bathroom visit (it was a messy bathroom… not because of any other reason) we get onto the rickety chairlift and head up the mountain. I ended up wearing extra layers (aka 2 coats) with the intension of renting a locker at the top. Who were we kidding, there were no lockers. I ended up having to wear my snow pants with bib and two coats. I was certainly a sight.

The view at the top was beautiful, so high above the clouds. I should note, my cell phone died and I was worried about messing up my camera so I was without any photo devices. All these images are courtesy of Michelle and Lindsey.

Once off the lift we headed to the lodge where we were informed to talk with the bartender about signing wavers and getting wristbands. Wavers?! Oh man! We starting getting a little nervous. How extreme will it be? The waitress tells us that even though we are late to the session (it’s 12pm and halfway through session 2 of the day) we probably shouldn’t wait for the third session. She said most people are done after a few rides down the tubing course. Oh wow! It must be really intense!

We sign the wavers and head over to a big fence where the the tubing course is just beyond it. The course is maybe 20 feet long and a gently sloping hill. This is it? The slope only had little little kids and their parents on it. That’s it. It’s the above photo. This was nothing compared to what I tubed down when I was 7.

I already paid, so I was getting my moneys worth. I said, oh well, it’s me and the kids. We were older than the guys running the course! It was hilarious. Hilarious!

After many rounds of going down the course, we decided it was time for nourishment and headed to the lodge bar. I had to avoid alcohol, as I was pretty sure I would be vomiting it up in Michelle’s car on the way down the mountain.

We finished up and took the shaky wooden chairlift down the mountain to the parking lot. Our (embarrassing) tubing adventure had come to an end. The lesson we learned is always google image search the coupon before you purchase it.

This photo was taken on the way down the mountain. Crazy foggy.