Leaders: Virgil Popescu, Tom Hill
Two hikes were meeting at the Icehouse Canyon trailhead on Saturday, so Virgil and I showed up a little early to lend a bon voyage to George Wysup and Harvey Ganz. Their trip was an 8:30 group scheduled to climb up Falling Rock Canyon to Sugarloaf Peak. Somehow they managed to attract 13 hikers for that unorthodox rocky scree route, which reportedly went very well.
Virgil and I managed to steal a couple of people for our own group and we ended up with an eclectic mix of 12 hikers. Joining us were young newcomers Kim Lee and Sung Park, along with Sandy Sperling, Doris Duval, Mei Kwan, Robert McKuen, Viorel Udrica, James Carden and spouse Fair, and David Michels.
Most of our group had never climbed this peak before and I freely admitted that my only two ascents had been from Cow Canyon Saddle many years before. Therefore Virgil recommended a wonderful loop trip, ascending via a shady canyon on the north side followed by a spectacular descent using Erv Bartel Canyon.
First we went up the Baldy Trail from the Village to Bear Flat. We found the faint trail that turns west at precisely the point mentioned in the peak guide, about a hundred feet past the stream crossing. The trail was somewhat overgrown in spots but never completely blocked and was easy to follow. The trail contoured west and eventually joined the West Fork of Bear Canyon, which we ascended to about the 6000' level. By that time the trail had become indistinguishable from an animal track.
We decided to leave the "trail" in the West Fork at that spot and began to ascend west cross-country up steep slopes to Peak 6930, where we jogged a short distance south to the summit of Lookout for a pleasant lunch break on a gorgeous sunny day with the world spread out below.
Our out-of-the-way route to the summit had taken four hours and did not prepare me for the descent, which took only 1 1/2 hours down lovely Erv Bartel Canyon. From the time about five years ago when Diane Dunbar first described and named this canyon I had been eager to try the route and I was not disappointed. Quite a lot of trail maintenance has been accomplished since the initial pioneering, some quite recently, which gave us the chance to really enjoy the cool shady depths of this remarkable little canyon that heads directly down to near Mt Baldy Village.
One final note. The Mt Baldy Church lot is posted against public parking and the Forest Service Visitor Center closes their gate at 4:30 pm. Those who want to use this trailhead are advised to leave their vehicles on the public streets before beginning the hike.