I came to climb Mt. Baldy for several reasons. First, because I grew up in West Covina and could see Mt. Baldy from the front porch of my parents house. Second, I had never climbed Mt. Baldy. Third, this is my 100th County High Point. Mt. Baldy is the highest point in Los Angeles County.
I was visiting my parents (same house I grew up in) and left the house about 5:30AM. Arrived at the trailhead at Manker Flat about 6:30AM along with several others who were preparing to head up the mountain. I set off up the gravel road heading to San Antonio Falls. The road is well graded and the Falls were picturesque. Continue up the road around a switchback and watch for a use trail taking off on the left side of the road. There is no sign here, but it is a good trail. Up the trail a little is a metal stand with a trailhead log that I signed.
It was a beautiful morning and I made good time up the trail passing a few hikers and also being passed by a runner with a couple of dogs. The trail is easy to follow all the way up just keep plodding away. The Sierra Hut is about half way up and then you finally get up to a ridge that you follow up to the summit.
When I could see the summit, I could also see several people milling around. I assumed they got an early start or came up the other trail by the ski lift. When I finally reached the summit I was surprised to see a runner coming up the other trail and crossing the finish line of the 35th Annual Mt. Baldy Run to the Top race that starts at the bottom of the ski lift. The winner arrived in just over an hour from the start. It took me 2.6 hours. The winner was soon joined by an ever increasing crowd of runners and when I looked over the edge to see the trail he ran up I was more surprosed than ever. There were hundreds of runners spread out along the ridge all the way back to the top of the ski lift. I asked one of the officials and he said there were 556 entries in the race.
I watched the runners for a while and then headed down the way they were coming up. There was plenty of room on the mountain and I went off-trail for several hundred feet on the descent to give the runners room. Eventually, I had to get on the same trail as the runners and I had to keep stepping off the trail to allow them to pass. Near the Devil's Backbone all the uphill runners had passed, but the early finshers were now running down too and I had to give them room to pass several times. Fortunately at the top of the ski lift all the runners got a free ride to the bottom. I found the use trail under the ski lift and walked down under the lift.
I got back to my car 4.5 hours after I started. All in all it was an enjoyable day even with all the runners.
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