Hiking Mount Baldy

Harvey Mudd sits in a rather geographically rich area. The beach is about an hour to the west, Joshua Tree National Park is two hours to the east, and the San Gabriel Mountains can be seen from campus. The mountains have ski runs for snowy winters and various hiking trails for other times of the year. Mount San Antonio, commonly known as Mount Baldy, can be found in the mountain range and is a popular hiking spot for people in the area.

One of my bucket list items for my time at Mudd was to hike to the top of Mount Baldy, which I did the other weekend. However, I did not realize how intense of a hike it would be. There are two different paths to the top: one that is relatively flat with lots of long switchbacks and another with smaller, much steeper switchbacks. My group decided to take the second one up and come back down the first for a total distance of twelve miles.

We began our journey at nine in the morning in cool seventy degree (Fahrenheit) weather, which was a nice break from the persistent ninety degree temperature that had been surrounding Mudd. The path was steep and rocky with many clear view points of the surrounding mountains. However, the peak felt consistently farther and farther away, especially as we passed other hikers who all had different time estimates for how much longer our group had to go to get to the top.

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Cherlyn Chan (’17) and me (’18) on our way up the first path. I was surprised by how green the area was as the mountains appear mostly tan/brown from campus.

Finally, around one in the afternoon, we made it to the top of Mount Baldy. I had been seriously questioning whether or not the hike would be worth the view, but it really was. The day was relatively clear, so we could see the greater LA area to the south, the desert to the north, and the other surrounding mountains very well. With an elevation of 10,064 feet, there was a cold wind blowing through the area, but it felt nice after the hike up. After an hour of eating lunch and taking many pictures, we decided to head back down the other path.

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(From left to right) Bailey Meyer (me), Cherlyn, Sarah Anderson (’17), and Joe Sinopoli (’17) at the top of Mount Baldy.

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Cherlyn stands on a rock an the top of Mount Baldy.

This path started out somewhat steep, with lots of little rocks that made it difficult to move down the slope without slipping. After a short while, it began to flatten out pretty quickly, though it kept some of its previous intensity by wandering over ridges and cliffs. However, the way down was much shorter, and we were able to reach the Mount Baldy Ski Lift, which is about the halfway point, within an hour. From there, it was all straight sailing on road-like paths back to the parking lot where we began our journey.

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Joe and I about to cross a ridge.

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The same ridge as above from a different perspective. Joe, Cherlyn, and I stood on the left side of the path while Sarah took this picture.

As I looked at the pictures a few days later, I realized the scenery was quite diverse and beautiful. Since I have a fear of heights, I spent most of the hike focused on the path instead of looking at the surrounding area. I definitely want to go to the top of Baldy again though, so maybe next time I can pay more attention to the scenery around me instead of my feet.

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Sarah taking a minute to enjoy the view from a tree.