Sitton Peak is at 3,273 feet of elevation and is located in the Cleveland National Forest between San Juan Capistrano and Lake Elsinore. This 9-mile path passes through a series of junctions joining other trails. Eventually, it ends in a really steep last quarter mile to a summit with fantastic views of the ocean.
The Old Mount Baldy Trail starts at Baldy Village instead of Manker Flats. This is a very strenuous 13-mile out and back scenic trail gains that 5,750′ of elevation and tops out at 10,069′. It starts out steep, then gradually eases as you gain altitude. If you’ve done the standard routes on Baldy, this is a step up in challenge.
Bec and I were looking to get up in the snow for the afternoon and Baden-Powell was the obvious choice. I had been in the area the week before and I noticed the upper mountain had good snow on it. The trail doesn’t have any exposure and it’s not too steep. t’s the perfect half day hike.
When we got to the summit, we could see 100 miles in every direction. Unfortunately, the wind was gusting hard and the temperature was still close to 35 degrees. We spent 10 minutes up there enjoying the view, shot a little video, then headed back down to warmer temps.
For many, the 220-mile long John Muir Trail, which runs north to south across the Sierra Nevada, represents the quintessential backcountry hike. While this trail was on our radar, we thought the High Sierra Trail would be a good way to ease into the behemoth JMT. The shorter, 72-mile High Sierra Trail runs west to east across the Sierras and can be done in six to ten days.
I had hiked Mount Whitney a few times, but Rainier was a completely different kind of climb. Mount Whitney and Mount Rainier are close to the same altitude. The big difference between the two is that Rainier is covered with glaciers, giant moving snowfields that are hundreds of feet thick. They are very different mountains.
I usually take Vivian Creek Trail, which is an 18.5 miles roundtrip with a 6,500-foot elevation gain. Momyer is quite a bit further and with more elevation gain. We wanted to do a loop, so we figured we’d start up Momyer and come down Vivian Creek, making a 25-mile round trip.
I’ve wanted to do the Three Ts Trail for some time, but I’ve needed a partner. You have to leave one car at the Cucamonga trailhead, then your hiking partner drives up to Manker Flats to the Mount Baldy trailhead. Wes and I finally set a date and did it.
We all turned in pretty early that night. Ten minutes after we went to sleep, the wind picked up to about 50 mph. It wasn’t gusts, it was a solid 50 mph wind. It stayed that way until about 4am. The idea of sleeping on a summit with the stars out always seems cool, but practically every summit I’ve slept on gets exposed to crazy amounts of wind.
I had hiked San Bernardino Peak before and it is one of my favorite trails in Southern California. I got a permit and talked Wes and Liz and even my wife Becky into joining me. Normally, Bec is not a fan of hiking steep mountains, but she has done three of the Six Pack of Peaks and this will be her fourth…
We had been able to see headlamps of hikers far ahead of us for hours, as apparently a lot of people had reached the trail before we did. As we started up the 99 Switchbacks, we could see many bobbing headlamps. The first light of the sun crept up as we neared the top of the switchbacks. The red rays lit up all the rocks. It was hard not to tear up just watching it. It had to be the most beautiful sunrise I had ever seen. Pictures simply don’t do it justice…
Courtney took a step and immediately went into a slide. Time went into slow motion. My left hand still had a strong purchase on the rock and my right hand gripped the trekking pole that she was hanging on to. As her full weight started to load the system, she swung underneath me. The inertia was far greater than I was expecting and I felt the sharp pinch of fear throughout my body. I felt my hand slipping off the hold I had on the rock. I couldn’t let her go. Then I lost my grip on the rock and we started to slide. It was over. I knew in a matter of seconds we would be airborne, free falling 800+ feet to our deaths.
A great idea popped into my head. “Let’s hike Mount Baldy at night under the light of the full moon! We probably don’t even need headlamps.” I texted the idea to the group. Texts came back. Ping. Ping. Ping. Wes and Liz signed up. Courtney was down for a stupid idea. Even Bec reluctantly agreed. It seemed like a pretty cool idea.
My parents used to take us to Weaver Lake when I was a kid. In fact, every year we’d camp at Stoney Creek Campground in Sequoia and often make the hike up to the lake. I love the area for its sheer beauty – and there is no permit required for overnight hikes. You just get yourself there and you’re on the trail without all the red tape of a big trip.