Living in Southern California, there are several cities and points of interest that I've heard by name, but would be hard pressed to locate on a map. Until last summer, Mount Baldy was a mystery location. We always hear about it on the local news, with the "Mount Baldy" weather cam, but where the heck is it?
A series of bad ideas led us to discover Mount Baldy.
It all starts with our Jeep Wrangler and a decision to go topless. Removing the roof isn't easy. Dan installed a winch to the roof of our garage, which helped, but it still took both of us to very carefully take it off. There were some close-calls with the heavy top swaying in mid-air and some swearing, but we managed it. Once it was off, it was going to stay off.
Roof off for the summer, sounds fun, right? When the weather is warm and you're driving around town, it's great. But take that Jeep on the freeway or off-roading and you're in for a miserable ride.
During a scorching weekend in August, we took our Jeep up to Big Bear for a trail event with the, Fun in the Sun 4x4, Jeep club from Orange County. How we ended up with this group is a totally mystery. It's a small club and somehow we got on their mailing list, although we didn't know anyone and they didn't know us. Luckily, they were a welcoming group ( as Jeepers usually are) and we came prepared for their "Hawaiian" ride.
Me, before hitting the trails. Still smiling.
No roof = tons of sunblock. I knew that we would get dirty from the trails. I had no idea that the dirt would stick to the sunblock and provide another layer of protection. I've never been so filthy in my life. Thick, crusty layers of dirt. We had to get the Jeep detailed and it still didn't come completely clean. I know that this is part of the fun in having a Jeep and that most Jeep owners love the mud. I'm not typical.
Me, trying to enjoy my plastic pineapple filled with more dirt than water.
The sun and heat were intense, worse on the freeway, than on the trails. When we headed down the hill, we had to stop because I felt like I was getting sunstroke. I've never sweated so much in my life. I felt beaten-up by the wind and my ears hurt from the noise. Not the fun that I had envisioned prior to removing the roof.
We stopped at a Starbucks in Claremont for drinks and air conditioning. After feeling semi-normal, we got lost trying to find the freeway and saw a sign for Mount Baldy. This turned a wrong move into a serendipitous one.
Miles out of our way, up a narrow, winding road, we found the ski lifts. As it was summer, the lifts were running for campers, hikers and us, tourists. Sixteen dollars each, got us a round trip ticket on the ski lift.
Mount Baldy is also called Mount San Antonio and it's part of the San Gabriel Mountain chain.
The lifts are old with splintery wood, and run up a narrow, rock filled ravine. It's scary. Disaster scenarios flashed through my mind. I don't think I moved, or breathed on the 10-15 minute ride. We kept hearing a rattlesnake like sound, that we final figured out was coming from large, flying insects. This is unnerving as there is no escape from the aforementioned flying insects...except down.
If you can relax enough to enjoy the views, they are very pretty!
As we neared the top, we heard live music coming from The Notch restaurant. They had a band on the patio and multiple outdoor bars. It looked great and we would have stopped for dinner, but it was absolutely jammed, not a empty table in sight. Next time we will plan ahead and arrive early. We walked around and took a quick look, before taking our return trip down the mountain.
One last picture, a panorama that Dan took from the top.