Saturday, May 17, 2014

You Had ONE Job! Don't Die! The Mt. Baldy Climb with Leslie

Today was pretty awesome I must say.  A week ago I solidified plans to climb a mountain that sits in my backyard. One of the highest mountains in Southern California, Mt. Baldy...also known to some as Mt. San Antonio (but no one calls it that).  Anywho, you may recall that the lovely Leslie offered to come along for the ride. I being the happy guy I am said the more the merrier. Since I have never attempted anything like this before, it would be good to have an ultra runner who has scaled this beast numerous times come with me.

She got to my house at 6:30 this morning. I hopped in her cute car and we zipped 15 minutes down the freeway and headed up 3000 feet to the parking area in from of the San Antonio trail that would take us up to above 10,000 feet above sea level...the summit of Mt. Baldy.  So let me tell you right now, Leslie and I hit it off immediately. She's funny! She's totally adventurous! Her smile is infectious, and she was very easy to talk to. I definitely made a new friend today. Especially since she surprised me and wore her INKnBURN Flutter tech tee! Yes we were the talk of the trail.

At the trail head beginning our day
After we suited up, he began our climb at the trail head. The first thing we saw in the shadows were the San Antonio falls...we will get back to those in a bit. We continued our climb and our great conversation. Now, there are two ways  up this mountain. There is The Devil's Backbone trail (which is how we descended) and the Ski Hut route. We walked up through the trees, and the bushes, and the rocks, and past the lizards and made our way up toward the Ski Hut. This climb took us about an hour. Along this portion of the climb we encountered some narrow paths and loose rocks. So, if you aren't experienced on trails that are this technical I want to caution you to be careful, be aware of your surroundings, and bring a guide with you if possible. That's where the fun title of this blog came from. We promised one another neither one of us would plummet to the rocky basin below us...and trust me on parts of the trail it's easy to do. So every time one of us would loose our footing and recover we would yell ' YOU HAD ONE JOB!" and we would just burst into laughter...that was funny for 5 hours!! It also served as a reminder to be careful. No one wants to see anyone get hurt. Now, don't get the idea that we were up there being reckless, we were slow and VERY careful but even when you're the most careful things happen. So heads up! But any who. You definitely feel the climb and the elevation change. It happens pretty quickly. But the views are absolutely magnificent. The weather today was also PERFECTION! The skies were clear, we were in the low to mid 70s with a delightful breeze. We couldn't have asked for better conditions out there. Finally we reached the Ski Hut. Yes this is where you can rent skies during snow season lol.

One of the great views from Ski Hut
Ski Hut Panorama 
After our brief break at the Ski Hut we continued upward. The next leg of this journey would take about an hour and twenty minutes. We weren't in any big rush. We were just enjoying one another and the beautiful scenery. After we passed a stream of fresh running water (which had us in a state of awe), we made our way to the court of large boulders and things (yes that's what I named it). I loved seeing all of the rocks and decided this would be the perfect place for a photo shoot. Leslie totally agreed.

After our brief but always fun photo shoot we noticed that some other fun hikers in the near vicinity...but they were just standing still. We turned our heads and saw a DEER! WILDLIFE! It was a curious little thing, and Leslie and I were totally jealous at it's ability to maneuver the hillside with not a problem at all. I issued an immediate side eye. But let's be was SO COOL and SO CUTE!

Do! A Deer! A Female Deer! I think anyway?
The remainder of the climb was pretty routine. We continued our steady climb very happy with our pace and communication. We were having so much fun up there. I think people around us wanted to join us, and at one point some did. We routinely stopped for breaks as needed because as you know the higher in elevation you go the thinner the air gets. So it's important to be aware of your body and your breathing. The very last climb was probably the hardest thing of the day. It literally feels like you are scaling a wall. As you approach the summit you see lots of other hikers sitting, eating, chatting, and enjoying the view from above 10,000 feet above sea level. WE MADE IT! It took us about 3 hours (which was pretty fast for me) and celebrated at the summit! Lots of hugs smiles and of course singing haha.

The views from the top were insane! It was so beautiful you could literally see for MILES! If the sky had been clear of haze and the smoke from the fires in San Diego you would probably be able to see the ocean, the Los Angeles skyline, and other great points of interest. It was INCREDIBLE! Reaching the top was worth the hurt and struggle for sure. Nothing that awesome comes without hard work!


Before we began our descent, Leslie saw SNOW! So of course she had to go play in it LOL! I saw a big rock and had to serve an awesome photo. I took inspiration from one of my faves Holly. She took this photo a while back and it blew my mind. So this was my attempt. Don't mind the poor form, there was no oxygen up there in that layer of the atmosphere...I was also on a cliff. LOL

@Holly_Fitness #MyFav

After that we made our way to Devil's Backbone. This trail drops pretty fast from the summit so we were coming back to civilization pretty rapidly. Before we continued to drop to the trail we noticed more snow can guess what happened next. I looked right at Leslie and sang 'Do you want to build a snowman" from Frozen. Naturally we exploded into laughter and started to build a snowman. I mean who wouldn't. 

Hang in there, Joan!
After we brought our masterpiece to life by the power of Elsa (which no one still understands) we continued to laugh. Yes his name is Olaf, and yes he does like warm hugs and pancakes!


After that random event we continued our trek down. Again, lots of rocks and dirt here so it's important to be VERY careful. More so on this trail. Wanna know WHY they call it Devil's Backbone? Because the trail is narrow and you have nothing to save you on either side. The trail has to be at max 5 feet wide, so PAY ATTENTION! It's totally safe but not really the place to cartwheel. I got nervous a couple times. We made our way down to the Mt. Baldy Lodge and used the facilities and refilled on water and lemonade. I was thirsty and it was free. This is about where the event comes to a close. Now if you've had enough the ski lifts run on the weekends and you can catch a ride down to the trail head. Ain't nobody got time for that. We enjoyed the 4 mile walk to our car and just continued to talk and chat and look up. We kept saying "WE WERE UP THERE!" It's really a marvel. We made our way back to San Antonio falls and enjoyed the splendor. The water is fresh, cool, calming, and tasty....yeah I tasted it. 

Leslie cooled her feet in the water while I played photographer. And of course we took a selfie.

After our fun at the falls it was time to go find some food and refuel. I totally made a new friend today! Leslie is pretty damn awesome. We had SUCH a good time. We already planned a couple more trails we want to go explore! And whenever she comes up to take on Baldy I'll probably be there. Leslie came two hours north from San Diego to play on the trails with me today! I couldn't be more grateful and happy that she came to hang out. She's a jewel! Thanks again Les! You rock the party! And she did her job very well...she didn't die and neither did I! Fantastic!

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