It rained in Los Angeles on Friday – glorious, glorious rain!
On Saturday morning, the skies were patchy, but there was some blue visible – so I headed out east to try to get some post-rain views from Mt. San Antonio. Also, to punish myself with a nasty hike for not getting out on the trail in a while.
Unfortunately, the clouds only got thicker as I drove up to Mt. Baldy Village. The rain, although light, was steady … so I pulled off the main road at a small cabin near Manker Flats, and walked in to grab a coffee and kill some time, hoping the rain would clear out by the time I was done.
The owner, Mike, was the only guy in the cabin, except for two teenagers who were about to start hiking in spite of the weather. I bought a $2 coffee, and 90 minutes later, had finished a very lively conversation.
A tall, burly, former dairy farmer in his 50s, Mike talked to me at length about almost everything he could think of — from the Mt. Baldy water rights issues that threatened to parch the residents in favor of the ski area to a white-supremacist area of Idaho to Revolutionary War history. Well worth the two bucks.
As I walked out to drive back home, the skies started clearing with enough blue to give me the confidence to drive back to the trailhead. I figured I’d at least make it to San Antonio Falls … and maybe the Sierra Club Ski Hut, weather permitting.
On the fire road to the falls, I got my first view of the Baldy Bowl, lightly dusted with the first snow of the season.
The freshly-fallen rain awoke all sorts of mountain scents … and made for some nice pictures around the base of San Antonio Falls.
In the distance, I heard the loud and lengthy rumbling of a rockslide. I tried to see where it was, but with the echo of the Bowl behind me, it really could have been anywhere in the mountains. It did put me a bit on edge, though.
After getting my fill of the peacefulness by the falls, I set out on the trail again, aiming to at least make it to the Ski Hut.
As I ascended, however, the clouds were descending. They’d already covered the top of Baldy, scratching it off the day’s to-do list. Not only because the views would be completely obscured, but because Baldy is not a mountain you mess around with in bad weather. Especially when you don’t have all the proper gear.
Soon, the clouds had fully covered the Baldy Bowl, and had started dumping alternating periods of drizzle and downpours of rain. And that was my cue to turn my soaked self around. And to remind myself to buy some rain gear.
On the way down, I passed a group of paramedics from the Mt. Baldy Fire Department, who were on their way up to the Ski Hut to retrieve “a broken person.” It was a team of about 8 people, carrying stretchers, medical equipment, and a set of wheels to attach to the stretcher so they could get the person down the trail.
Before I got back to my car, I passed a fire truck, two ambulances, a few sheriff trucks, and saw a Forest Service helicopter heading toward the mountain.
So that’s why it costs millions of dollars to get rescued on the trail.
I’ll be back for Baldy when the clouds stay off the mountains. Until then, I’m just happy we finally got some rain!