Devil’s Backbone and Mt. Baldy for Supermoon

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This is the weekend of the supermoon, the year’s largest and brightest full moon. There is no better place to take it in, than to be high up in the mountains, far away from physical obstructions and ever present light pollution. Making things even more special, my goldendoodle, Isla, is finally old enough to hike. Her little muscles have developed well, and she’s been itching to join Julia and I for an overnighter.

We decided the best place to take things in would be Mt. Baldy. The restaurant at the Notch hosts a BBQ and moonlight hike for the supermoon, and quite a few people last year made their way up once the sun started to bury itself in the west. To avoid potential crowds at the summit, we made the decision to camp at the lookout just before Devil’s Backbone Trail. We arrived at Manker Flat around 5:30 PM, threw on our packs, and began hiking. The fire road to the notch was cool and shady by this point, which allowed us to make quick work of the few miles to the top of the ski lift. The following few miles were even more pleasant, as a cool breeze started to blow from east to west just as the supermoon made an appearance. We arrived at our campsite after just shy of 2 hours hiking and pitched the tent.

View from the Tent
Isla's First Night Out
Isla’s First Night Out
Campsite Views
Campsite Views

I was surprised by how many people were making their way up to the summit to take in the supermoon. We had only seen two hikers by 9 PM, but from 9 PM to 2 AM, we had seen (and heard) at least 12. The moon was so bright, we didn’t need a light in the tent, it felt as if we were camping in a well lit parking lot.

Doesn't Get Much Better Than This
Doesn’t Get Much Better Than This
Tent in the Dark
Tent in the Dark
The Sea of Light Pollution
The Sea of Light Pollution
I'm a ghost
I’m a ghost

It was hard to sleep with so much light and so many hikers walking by, so at 4 AM I decided to get up and head to the summit of Mt. Baldy. It was only a couple of miles with 1500 ft of gain, so it didn’t interfere with our planned departure time of 6 AM. By this point, the supermoon was golden and quickly starting to rust and disappear. My headlamp was handy, but having walked this trail so many times, I could probably do it blindfolded at this point. The recent rains and flash floods had washed out a section of trail in Baldy Bowl, and the many offshoots of trail on the final ascent to the peak have turned into a series of rain ruts. To my surprise, there was absolutely no one at the summit when I reached it in the darkness. I stood there for a minute, just short of daybreak, and then began my walk back to the tent. There are few things I love more in life than watching the sunrise at high altitudes.

The Summit
The Summit
Baldy Bowl
Baldy Bowl
Sunrise Over Devil's Backbone
Sunrise Over Devil’s Backbone

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