Hike to Mt Baldy Summit - Attempt #1

It's so much fun to hike with your dog. So this past weekend, we tried to summit Mt. Baldy.  There were 5 of us and for 4 of us, this was our first time trying to get to the summit.  4 out of 5 of us had our dogs.

Luckily, the weather this weekend wasn't blisteringly hot, like it was 2 weekends ago.  Although the sun was intense, the breeze at the higher elevations made for a very comfortable hike.

If you start the hike from Manker Flats, instead of taking the lift, you hike the fire road up to the Notch.  It's about a 3 or 3 1/2 mile hike up.  There is a porto-potty at the trail head, so if you start this hike before 7am, you don't have to worry about using the bathroom before the hike. My preference was stopping at the Visitor's center in Baldy Village, in case anyone needed an adventure pass or they needed to use the facilities.

The fire road section of the hike was easy, and we all remarked at how fast it went. Because we started the hike around 8am, the weather was cool and there were not as many people on the hike as I had originally thought.  So, after walking the dogs for a bit, as a pack, we let them off-leash.

All 4 of the dogs did really well staying in a pack. They would check in every so often with their human. I was really impressed.

There are so many trails that lead to the Notch, that you really need to be aware of which way you come from. On the way, we met a few people that had just hiked up to the Notch for breakfast, and were on their way back down.  We rested on the Notch balcony for about 20 minutes, taking in the view, before we decided to move on.

At the Notch, it's a good thing to put your dogs back on-leash.  I had not realized that we were so close, and because I was at the rear of the group taking so many pictures, Jake had gone on ahead. I was only about 2 minutes behind, but when I got up there, he was waiting in the restaurant.  Who knows what havoc he raised...

The fire road was the widest part of the hike. As we went further up, the trail became narrower. The backbone trail was the narrowest part, it was a single track that traversed the ridge to Baldy Summit.

Have you ever hiked a ridge trail?  This was my first time.  It was pretty hairy because of the narrowness of it all, but the views were OUTSTANDING!! If anything, just hike up to the start of the backbone trail next time you are in the baldy area, and just check out the views. They will take your breath away!  One side is the brown and tan of the high desert, the other side is a bit more green of the San Gabriel and Inland Valleys. Since it was decently clear, you could see the San Bernardino mountains in the distance to the east.

View to the North from Devil's Backbone

View to the South from Devil's Backbone

The start of Devil's Backbone
The Hike was a little longer and tougher than anticipated. At about mile 4 into the hike, my right quad started to spasm. Luckily I had brought a spray to help me with that, but I had been fighting it since I started feeling it. About 1/2 mile onto the backbone trail, it became excruciating. I didn't mind if the group pressed on without me. I would just wait at the Notch.  But the dogs also seemed to be tired of climbing the backbone trail. So we all turned around.

If you have ever wanted to try hiking poles, I would really recommend them for this hike, especially going down.  I usually hike with a hiking stick, however, once we turned around and had to navigate the granite croppings, I started to wish I had brought my poles, instead of my stick. 

On the way down, we stopped at the Notch again. I stored up on Gatorade and asked about the lift. They do allow dogs on the lift!  As long as they have a harness, you can tie them to the center pole to immobilize them. I would try to take the lift on our next attempt at the summit. For this trip, we decided not to take the lift down. The dogs were pretty tired.  Jake got a small 2nd wind after we descended from the Notch. I carried his backpack for him. Patches was lucky. She got a ride from her owner, in her backpack.

Patches and her owner, Angela

Until the next great adventure (or at least our next summit attempt)...Happy T(r)ails!