This Saturday morning I finished hike number 16/52 for the 52 Hike Challenge in 2015, and have now completed 189 of my goal of 1000 miles for this year. I’ve tried to do a new hike each week, but with the temperatures rising, I wanted to reach the 10,064 ft summit of Mt. Baldy in the snow one more time. We got quite a bit of snow last week, but it was 80 degrees+ all weekend, with the forecast calling for high 80’s all this week. It turned out to be a great day to summit Mt. Baldy, as I set my all time speed record. I made it up and down in 3 hours and 25 minutes, with 20 minutes of that taking breaks.
I arrived to the Manker Flats parking area around 8:30, and quickly realized I wasn’t the only one with plans on reaching the summit of Mt. Baldy. It took me some time to find parking, but once I did, I threw my pack on and was quickly off. The snow and ice started to show on the trail just before the green Ski Hut. It was shaping up to be a gorgeous day, with clear skies, a light breeze, and unusually warm weather. The views of Baldy Bowl were spectacular. Chutes of ice clung to the steep walls of the bowl with fingers of granite reaching out in between.
After Baldy Bowl, the snow was deep and soft on the switchbacks up to the final summit push. It was so soft that I didn’t need to put my microspikes on. The footing was equally good all the way up to the summit of Mt. Baldy. The section of trail towards the top of Baldy Bowl still had some deep snow, and someone took the time to construct a pretty nice snowman. This is probably my favorite section of the Ski Hut Trail, as the hardest section of climbing is over and you get a nice break before your final climb.
This was my fourth summit of Mt. Baldy this winter, and this was by far the most people I’ve seen at the top. It’s always nice to have the company, as there’s something about reaching the peak of a mountain that pumps contagious energy into the air. It was also nice to have such pleasant conditions, it was a warm day on the summit with temperatures in the low 40’s. I took a good 15 minute break to let my legs rest and take pictures.
The hike down Ski Hut Trail is always an enjoyable one, as the first mile offers views of Southern California with other peaks in the San Gabriels filling the foreground. At this point, the warmth of the day had really started to go to work on the snow beneath me. Much of the exposed sections of trail had turned to slush, and very little remained below 7000 ft. I’m glad I was able to make it up to enjoy the snow one last time. With the way the weather is going here in California, it could be a long time before I see these conditions again.