Trip Report: Steep trails around San Antonio (Mt Baldy)

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Okay… OUUUUUCCCHHHH. Writing now that I showered (the amount of salt and sand-turned-mud in the humidity and sweat I could scrape off my face, and I left heel marks on my way in to get clean, ew) and ate pancakes (eating while intense exercise is difficult, so I was real low on calories despite fruit I happily ate upon returning to the car – I was running on fumes = caffeine bloks). The good: flowers, 360 deg views, moody weather, less traveled trails = far less people, pushing myself to my physical limit usually feels pretty good in the long run (not so much right this second). GPS

Look, I know the the hike up San Antonio is steep, I’ve done it a few times, but I added some extras and my knees are pissed! The ski hut / baldy bowl route starts at 6172′ (my car location in lot that was crowded by 6am) to the highest peak in L.A. county at 10066′ (my gps is wrong if you look at elevation map) so that is 3894′ gain inside 4 miles and it took me 2:50 (h:mm) LOL!! Almost nothing else does that, not even in the Sierra unless you are climbing with gear off-trail. These trail builders just don’t like switchbacks or steps – they were clearly very mean people. But then, in my quest for more mileage for training reasons, I decided to take North Backbone (a trail that made me quit in 1/3 mile on the northern end) to Dawson Peak, which is a loss of nearly 1500′ in 0.7 miles (FML), up again to 9575′ for a gain of almost 1000′ in .6 miles, then did that in reverse for the return and let me please emphasize that it was mostly loose scree which SUUUUUCKKKS. There were only 3 other people and these were the only people that passed me the whole day (one with an overnight backpack!), so just FYI that as painfully slow as I was it by far wasn’t the slowest, so don’t laugh at my speed which was only 11 miles but took over 8 hours! Lord have mercy, it was hot, sweaty, dirty work and I guess I find torture fun?

So now I’m atop the mountain again (so nice I summitted twice? I hugged the sign at the top and got some laughs) and it’s time to head down… I do so with the small crowds, but decided to turn off to Mount Harwood… I was so tired earlier that I didn’t hit the west summit, but now I’d been going down again and despite not peeing since 6:30am (it would be 10 hours before I would again… 2 liters is good for 11 miles, but not 8 hours it seems) I felt pretty good, though my legs were fatigued and my left shin was kind of cramping. Anyhow, after losing 700′ I went back up 200′ to 9551′ and it was like the moon up there: a rocky landscape and a few random bits of equipment that looked like rovers, haha. Cool rainbow-ish slopes, too, on the northwest. I dropped back down 400′ and met back up with the main trail (not the one I took up, this comes from the other side at the ski resort for a possible loop).

Here’s where I made a really not fun decision: I did more new-to-me things and took the ridgeline trail straight down.2440′ lost in 1.34 miles. WTAF!! Why are there no switchbacks? Stupid steep, most of it loose scree again, and after a mile my shaking legs forced smaller steps and a couple breaks and after many slides-almost-falls I did spend a minute crying when cursing stopped working for me. I was alone, so that’s great, but, shit, that destroyed my poor knees and shoved my toes into my shoes no matter how tight (and they were, I have red spots to prove it).Anyhow, that was rewarding but really rough and tomorrow is going to be my ‘off’ day due to my knees needing some recovery – probably use a muscle scraper on my shin and roll/massage-gun my thighs and calves. Hurray?

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