Leaders: Peter Doggett and Kate Rogowski
Participants on this fine hike led by Peter Doggett and Kate Rogowski included Sonia Arancibia, Don Crowley, Howard Gross, David Hankins, Yunja Kwan, Jim Potter, George Wysup, Janet Yang, and Dave Zalewski (who's writing this).
We met at Icehouse Cyn at 6 am, 12 of us. Very early on, one fellow decided to go solo when he discovered that we weren't doing the hike as originally planned; instead of starting from the village (as planned in the writeup), it was decided that beginning from Manker Flat would make for a more pleasant hike. By 7 am we were on the trail, and began the steep ascent to the ski hut. It was a warm, sunny day, without much of a breeze.
We made it to the ski hut by 8 am, and enjoyed a short and well-deserved break, then continued up toward Baldy. Along the way, one newcomer (who is in great shape but exercises mostly by swimming) was not accustomed to the dry heat of the mountains and gracefully bowed out of the trip.
Always on schedule, we reached the summit of Baldy at 9:30 am. There was smoke below us due to a fire in the Hemet area. We then proceeded along the Devil's Backbone to Mt Harwood, then to the Mt Baldy Ski Lodge for a nice lunch. There was a bit of a wait for the food. Peter Doggett thought maybe next time, we could call ahead with our lunch orders via cell phone from the top of Baldly, and the cook at the Lodge thought that was a "cool" idea! One hour had been budgeted for lunch, but our energetic group of 10 was back on the trail in only 45 minutes.
Of course, with our full stomachs now, moving a little more slowly, soon we were back on schedule, arriving at Thunder Mtn by 1 pm. In the next hour we bagged Telegraph after a leisurely break in the breezy shade on the ridge top, and in another hour, Timber.
We now descended to Icehouse Cyn, where ladybugs were flying everywhere, and gathering in swarms on the trail side plants to mate. At Columbine Spring, we all savored the delicious cool spring water. In the few miles back to the cars, we observed that this day we had hiked the equivalent of Mt Whitney in a day, about 6,200 feet of gain, about 20 miles, nothing to sneeze at! The only casualties were a few blisters, which moleskin easily remedied. By 5 pm we were all back at our cars.
For most of us, it was a typical day in the mountains. However, Sonia camped out the night before without a tent, and was awakened by a raccoon sniffing around her face at 3 am, and so had a rough night's sleep after that. A real learning experience! And Janet, a newcomer to HPS (although she was a member of the HPS-like group in Taiwan that only climbed peaks over 3,000 meters) was happy to do some real hiking - "I only like to hike 10 miles at a time" - is that the HPS spirit or what?
In the future, Peter suggested that maybe a couple more peaks might be included in the itinerary, maybe Sugarloaf, Cucamonga, Big Horn, Ontario, or others... Many thanks to Peter, Kate, and the whole group for a great day! And to Asher Waxman who pioneered this route.