Los Angeles County Highpoint Trip Report

Mount San Antonio (10,064 ft)

Date: May 27, 2005
Author: Bob Bolton

We were told by the visitor center hostess that the ski lifts were running daily, so we hoped for a ride up to Baldy Notch. We may be macho mountaineers but we're not too proud to ride a chair lift! However, there was no activity anywhere near the ski lifts, so we parked down at the San Antonio Falls TH at Manker Flat and headed up the road.

Instead of taking the long road up to Baldy Notch, however, we decided to hike the trail to Baldy Bowl. That trail is steep and we prefer getting the elevation gain done quickly instead of dragging it out with perfectly graded switchbacks or whatever. Upon reaching the Sierra Club hut we selected a route up the little ridge directly toward Mount Harwood. This worked quite well except in the steeper areas because there was much loose junk to contend with. When we hit snow we started angling toward the Baldy/Harwood saddle, hit the Devil's Backbone trail just before the saddle, then completed the ascent mostly on snow from the saddle. After walking over the highest hump of snow, we found a bare spot with an unneeded windbreak just north of the summit where we rested and ate.

Neither of us had the heart to return down that steep ridge or the steep trail, especially given the status of my ankle, which is still not fully healed from last February's injury, so we opted to head down the trail over Devil's Backbone to Baldy Notch, hoping that the ski lift hours of operation had begun after we had started hiking. Alas, the lift wasn't running even though this was the Friday before Memorial Day weekend, so we were faced with that lousy 3.5-mile road-pounding hike.

However, as we neared the lodge we discovered that there were two pickups parked there, each with a man seemingly employed by the lodge. We approached the first guy and offered him $5 or $10 for a ride down. He said he wouldn't do it for money but would do it because he wanted to, so, after a short wait, we were happily ensconced in his 4WD Toyota for the free and easy way off the mountain. Soon we were wending our way through Friday rush hour traffic at the beginning of a holiday weekend, vying for freeway space with hundreds of city escapees heading for the desert.