The West Baldy Illusion

The first time I hiked to West Baldy I mistakenly thought it was Mt. Baldy until I reached West Baldy and looked back.  When I reached what I later learned was Mt. Baldy from the Devil’s Backbone Trail, there was only a publicly affectionate young couple on the summit who I didn’t want to disturb.  It turns out they were blocking my view of the summit marker.  Looking south I saw what appeared to be a higher peak and assumed it was Mt. Baldy.

View of West Baldy (elevation 9,988′) from Mt. Baldy (elevation 10,064′). Note: photo is taken from just below the summit marker.

So, I headed down along what turned out to be the Old Baldy Trail that leads to the Visitors Center.  Near the saddle I realized I needed to head over to the ridge where I found the West Baldy Trail which I learned on the way back directly connects the two summits.

View of West Baldy along the West Baldy Trail near the saddle.

Reaching what turned out to be West Baldy and looking back I realized I was on a shorter peak.

View of Mt. Baldy from the summit West Mt. Baldy

View toward Mt. Baldy from just below the peak of West Baldy

I find it an interesting illusion and worth the short 1.1 mile round trip to fully experience.

Finally, Some Bighorn!

Sometimes I wake up on a day I’ve planned to hike and really don’t feel like going.  Yesterday was one of those days.  I had lost track of time the night before and hadn’t planned a new hike in an area I hadn’t been. On Wednesday’s I like to do a challenging hike that usually requires me to study the map to make sure I get in enough mileage and elevation gain.  I decided to hike to Mt. Baldy again for the tenth time this year and throw in a side trip to West Baldy.

One of the great things about hiking is that there are unpredictable elements to it.  Between weather, wildlife, and other hikers; I find something unique about every hike no matter how many times I traverse the same trail.  Since I learned about the presence of Bighorn Sheep in certain areas of Angeles Forest (the Mt. Baldy area being one such area), I’ve been looking forward to seeing them in person.  After about forty hikes in those areas, I finally saw some yesterday just below the Ski Hut on the Baldy Bowl Trail.

For close to ten minutes it was just me and four Bighorn Sheep.  They were aware I was there, but just kept foraging.  Three of them are pictured in the photo below.

My moving to different spots to take photos drew their attention, but didn’t cause them to move away.  They just got back to doing what they were doing.

Because they stayed calm and didn’t run off, I got to enjoy watching them while feeling I wasn’t invading their space.

After about ten minutes another hiker came and also had time to take plenty of pictures, followed by three more hikers.  The Bighorn got spooked and ran up the mountain when another hiker with a dog came down the trail.

Finally seeing some Bighorn Sheep made my day.  Unexpected joys like this are what make hiking so special to me.  The day started with me uninspired and ended with me looking forward to my next hike.