I hadn’t been to Mt. Baldy (aka Mt. San Antonio) or to any of the trails accessible from Icehouse Canyon since October–except for a short trek part way up the Icehouse Canyon Trail with my daughter. Really missing both areas, I decided to make last weeks Mt. Whitney training hike a trek from Icehouse Canyon to Mt. Baldy.
I always find starting a hike from Icehouse Saddle to be very enjoyable as a significant amount of time is spent along the stream. For some reason, streams get me immediately focused on the nature I’m walking through which sets the tone for the longer journey.
Among the great things I experience now that I’ve been hiking in Angeles Forest weekly for about a year and a half is to know the territory I’m seeing as I look off into the distance because I’ve been there. It’s profoundly different for me now. I am now able to recall what it looks like to stand in a place I’m looking at far off into the distance, what it takes to get there, and what it looks like to look toward where I’m standing from where I’m looking at. Holding all this in my mind as I gaze out heightens my experience as relationships and interconnections grow.
The forest’s intimacy and grandeur simultaneously captivate me as I look out to places I’ve been but will not be able to make it to today.
The views are expansive, height and distance become more tangible when looking down long canyons instead of simply out off into the distance.
I slow down and look around a lot at saddle areas. The views out are breathtakingly expansive. At the same time there is a close up view up the next mountain displaying its overall form which will no longer be discernible as I climb it.
Climbing the mountain instead of viewing it from far enough away to see its overall form is similar to the difference between being inside and outside of a building. Smaller spaces emerge along the trail that generate their own sense of place and destination. As the trail leads from one space to the next new features come into view. I particularly like it when the trail curves in the distance and it looks like there may be an interesting spot just around the corner with a new view or a new set of features.
After hiking for a while doing switchbacks up the side of the mountain and looking out at expansive views from over 8,000 feet in elevation, the trail gets close to the ridge. It’s low enough still that you can’t see a view over the ridge. The view of the ridge line becomes dominant and I start looking up instead of out.
After hiking for about an hour with no view of Mt. Baldy, the mountain comes into view near the junction with the Telegraph Peak Trail. Thunder Mountain is somewhat lost in the foreground with Mt. Baldy rising much higher in the distance.
Eventually as I make it down toward the saddle between Telegraph Peak and Thunder Mountain, the change of view allows Thunder Mountain to gain prominence as its peak now stands out in front of the blue sky background.
View down the canyons from the saddle between Telegraph Peak and Thunder Mountain are both expansive and diverse as one side looks northwest and the other southeast.
The road down from Thunder Mountain to Baldy notch isn’t very exciting, but there are still great views of Mt. Baldy
My original plan was to hike to Mt. Baldy and return the same way. By the time I made it to the top of the ski lift area I was behind schedule to make it back from Mt. Baldy before dark. So I sat on the concrete pad, had a snack and contemplated my options. I could just turn around and go back easily making it to my car before dark. I could go to Mt. Baldy and return the way I came but hike much of the Icehouse Canyon Trail in the dark using my headlamp. I could go to Mt. Baldy, come down the Baldy Bowl Trail and walk the paved road from Manker Flats to Icehouse Canyon to get to my car in the dark.
I decided I’d rather hike to Mt. Baldy and walk the road from Manker Flats to Icehouse Canyon in the dark. I was rewarded with a great trek up the Devil’s Backbone Trail where I enjoyed the multitude of different types of spaces to walk through.
I had lunch at the summit. While not looking forward to the walk in the dark on the road from Manker Flats to Icehouse Canyon, I felt it was definitely worth the sacrifice.
At the summit, I met another hiker (Kevin) who also is training to hike Mt. Whitney. I mentioned my route and my need to walk the road once reaching Manker Flats. Luckily, Kevin drove me to my car. So, the remainder of my trek was a wonderful trek down the Baldy Bowl Trail.