PCT Day 33: Mile 357-369 Mt Baldy


I woke up early, packed up, and got my butt moving, I was hoping to hike from our camp to Hwy 2 and catch a hitch into Wrightwood before everything closed down at 5pm. It was only 13 miles away, but the challenge was doing the 7.5 side trip to the top of Mt Baldy and back and also finishing the 13. Needless to say I was moving.

There was and awesome cloud looming over the San Bernadino Mountains to the East. I snapped pictures as I trekked on. The only person I saw that morning was Eagle, he was doing his thing solo and I wasnt about to disturb him. A dull pain started up in my left knee as I hiked through the morning. I told myself that it would go away, but it persisted. It would start up like an orchestra tuning a D string, and fade as they found the note. It wasn’t sharp, or quick, just a dull roar. I trekked on until finding my tunoff.

I dropped down onto the road below, set up my tent, stashed all my gear except my bag, some water, and a snack. I started hiking down further to the saddle just before the trail took off, upwards, towards Pine Mountain (first of 2 summits before baldy). The gain was unforgiving and hardy.

Up and up I went , until finally finding the top of Pine and I could see all the way to Mt Baldy, and I understood the full extent of the trek I bit off. The trail dipped far down between the saddles of the peaks and I would have to regain all I lost just to get to the next. There was no other way, I was commited. Off I went.

Finally I reached the 2nd peak, Dawsons Peak. It had a register and I saw someone comment “now to regain 1200 ft to Mt Baldy”. “Oh goody”, I said. I thought back to Phoenix and Squaw peak having similar gain and how every Friday Pete Kennedy, Dane Butow, and I would meet and race each other to the top after work. Shoving elbows and talking trash, we would edge each other on, until redlining the heartbeat and leaving it pinned there until finally we reached summit and gasped for air.

Dane and Pete weren’t physically there that day, but they hiked that last hard push with me. I pressed hard, sweating, heart pumping, until finally by almost some miricle the gain stopped and I reached the top.

The views were great! I met Zack and John at the top and we chatted for a bit. After snacks and a break I said goodbye and headed back. Finally after a few grueling hours I had returned to my trail stash. Once back, Kevin, a day hiker, seemed to appear from nowhere. We chatted for a bit before he took off up the hard gain to Pine Mountain.

I hiked the final miles to the highway exhausted for the most part. I walked to the road and stuck my thumb out. Not but 5 minutes and a black SUV pulled to the side of the road and opened a door for me. Zack, his gilfriend and 2 dogs greeted me and we chatted as we drove to Wrightwood.

I had finally arrived, soon found the Moutnain Hardware store, food, and a group of PCTers that I ended up staying with in town. It was a good long day and I was beat. Not too beat to go out for a 2nd dinner and some beers in town with the guys, but definitly beat.

Day Hiker Profile:

Zack, John – I met these guys at the top of Baldy. Super nice and hooked me up with a little extra water so I could get back to my trail stash (I had slightly underestimated the gain and wanted a lil extra as backup).

Kevin – Nice guy from LA, clean cut, instagramer that liked to bag peaks from different trailheads.

Trail Angel:

Travis – Super nice guy with his girlfriend, puffing on some grape flavored vape, and sporting a shaggy curly yellow mane. They were locals and worked at the zip line place in town.