Baldy via Bear Canyon

Southern California and far-away places. Hiking, wildlife, cycling etc.

Baldy via Bear Canyon

Postby Ellen » Mon Jan 21, 2008 11:03 am

Howdy all :D

After being chained to my computer writing, I wanted an adventure over the weekend. Well, I found one :lol:

I left at 7 AM on Sunday and hit snow well before the open switchback with the pine trees and rocks where I usually have my first gel. I probably gained another 500 feet before I put on the crampons. I was surprised and happy to see another fool's, err, hiker's footprints. I went straight up through the forest to the switchbacks through the rocks, then stayed along the ridge where there's the sharp drop off and several scenic vistas on the left. At one point, I could almost near touch my nose against the snow/ice but I too commited to change course.

I took a deep breath when I came out on the open ridge (the one renascent of Devil's backbone). Thought things would get easier. Hah! The ridge was spooky -- large areas of snow/ice were separating from the ridge on the right hand side. Think avalanche. I initially tried to follow the trail and ended up in deep snow. Headed back up on top of the ridge and followed the previous hiker's foot prints. When I hit the flat area (nice rest stop in the summer, about 9,200 ft), I made the mistake of not staying on top of the ridge to the right of the trail). It was very icy. After that section, I opted to just shoot up to the top of west Baldy.

To my surprise, I ran into two young guys who had carried snow boards and skis up the Badly bowl trail. They thought they were on the summit of Baldy. I pointed out the real Baldy summit (felt bad about that) and continued on. I took me five hours to summit -- normally it takes three and a half. The wind at the top was bitterly cold and none of the rock shelters offered any protection. I hunkered down behind some rocks and powered down my sandwich and hot chocolate -- it was worth the extra weight of the thermos. Started to head down and to my surprise ran into the two guys again (guess they wanted the "real" Baldy summit).

This time I followed footprints around west Baldy. Once again I made the mistake of not staying on top of the ridge and tried to follow the trail back to the clearing. I traversed on the scariest ice I've ever encountered -- my crampons didn't even leave marks and my poles slipped off. Said a prayer of thanks when I hit the flat area and immediately went to the top of the ridge. I was amazed to run into another fellow going up. I warned him about the ice (he didn't have crampons but was an experienced rock climber). About 15 minutes later, I ran into an oriental man (without crampons) who asked me about the ice in broken English. I cautioned him as well and told him to follow the other fellow's footprints.

After safely negotiating the snow and ice, it's only fitting that I would lose the trail in the buckthorn and manzanita and take a tumble into the buckthorn. Went back up uphill, found the blasted trail, and headed down. There's nothing quite like slipping on snow going downhill when you have buckthorn and/or manzanita on each side to stop your fall :roll: I was ecstatic to reach Bear Flats and be able to walk normally to my car, which I reached at 4 PM. I hope the other two hikers made it down safely -- if they did summit, they came down in the dark.

Miles of smiles,
Ellen
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Postby Hikin_Jim » Thu Jan 24, 2008 9:15 pm

That was very kind of you to mark the trail with the blood from your own buckthorn lacerated legs. :)
(Aren't I a stinker?)

For goodness' sake stay off that hard ice or at least bring an ice axe or you'll be bloody blonde not hiking.
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Postby Ellen » Fri Jan 25, 2008 3:26 pm

Hikin_Jim wrote:That was very kind of you to mark the trail with the blood from your own buckthorn lacerated legs. :)
(Aren't I a stinker?)

For goodness' sake stay off that hard ice or at least bring an ice axe or you'll be bloody blonde not hiking.


:oops: :oops: :oops:

No, you're not a stinker at all -- your admonition is perfectly pleasant, just as you are 8) In fact I had my ice-axe on my daypack (yes I know it's worthless there). The poles worked better most of the time, but I should have pulled the ice-axe out for the scary stuff. I think I used up one of my nine lives :lol: I won't make the same mistake again.

Miles of smiles,
Ellen
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