Before reading this post, I suggest you listen to this:
Now, the only relation it has to the rest of this post is that it has the same name as the trail I hiked this weekend. It certainly would have been a better song to have in my head than Jonathan Coulton’s Mr. Fancy Pants on my climb…
Unlike Robin, I don’t live in the middle of a national park and I repeatedly use this excuse to spend the weekend at the movies, the beach or just watching Orange is the New Black instead of exploring the outdoors. What this translates to is this… I am not in shape. I also want to do a backpacking trip to Valhalla in Sequoia this year, but in my current condition, I’m not quite up for hiking 10 miles in a day, especially in the Sierra so my boyfriend and I are trying to do small but mighty hikes nearby to prepare for the trip.
First on the docket was Mt. Baldy. As the highest mountain in Los Angeles and Orange counties, it’s a fitting challenge, especially considering I’ve never hiked a peak before.
Thinking about it again, I guess I was wrong. That Civil Wars song begins with the line “Oh Lord, Oh Lord, what have I done?” and that’s exactly what was going through my head about half way up the first incline… less than half a mile into the hike. Between the rapid elevation change (sea level to 7,500 feet in an hour), my weak legs, and the steepness of the climb I was about ready to slide down that ski slope and call it a day. Happily, I did not choose to do that and instead was treated to the namesake of this hike, the Devil’s Backbone.
It’s one of those rare vistas that actually looks cooler in pictures than it does in person. While the sides are just as steep as they look, the trail seems wider when you’re on top of it. On a clear day, you can see the deserts to the south, the ocean to the west, and a sea of surrounding mountains. On our trip, it was a little overcast so we didn’t get the full experience, but we did get to see some pretty fantastic views, including misty mountains.
Somehow I was too busy motivating myself to keep going on the way up to take many pictures so I didn’t get a good shot of the trail climbing to the peak, but I did take one going back down.
Slowly, I made my way to the top, and once it sunk in that I had made it, the burning calves were worth it.
We sat on the top for a lunch of cheese and crackers and popcorn. I was amused to note that we were enjoying popcorn purchased at the Chicago airport and cheese from Amish country in Ohio. I’m sure the manufacturers didn’t imagine their wares being eaten on the top of a mountain in California.
The trip back down was faster, if not less work. I had a chance to pay more attention to my surroundings. Just above the treeline there were a crazy amount of grasshoppers in the rocks. I tried to tell them that there was no grass, but they just clicked at us.
Halfway down we could finally see the Top of the Notch restaurant in the distance and its promise of a ski lift down.
After such a sense of accomplishment who knows what I’ll take on next… Mt. San Jacinto? Whitney? Everest? Only time will tell.
~ April (in Autumn)