The planned summit for today was Mount Baden-Powell, just west of Wrightwood. Given the heatwave that much of the state had been under and the threat of an afternoon thunderstorm, we knew that we needed to have an early start for this peak, and being a San Diego resident, this meant an even earlier start with the two-hour drive to the trailhead. Ted arrived just before 4 am and loaded his gear into the back of the car. We slipped on our masks and drove northward. As we climbed up toward the Cajon Pass, a small rain shower came down. This hike might have turned out to be a long drive for nothing if we felt the weather conditions weren’t favorable.
We pulled into the parking lot off the Angeles Crest Highway. About ten or so other cars were already there. We gathered our gear, used the (thankfully open) restroom, and headed onto the trail.
The route was going to be a fairly constant climb along the Pacific Crest Trail. While we were going to be under the shade of the various evergreens for much of it, we still had some 40 switchbacks to count off as we worked our way ever upward toward the summit.
As we made our way up, a few light sprinkles began to fall. Since the temperature was pleasant, it did not bother us as we plodded upward. After about a mile in, we passed the bench, and since we were feeling good we did not stop. The sun was making itself visible from over the mountains, so we grabbed a few photos and continued on up the trail. We kept a fairly steady pace, as the gradient of the trail stayed mostly constant, although we slowly would feel the elevation in our lungs. We passed a few hikers along the way. The trail did make it hard to step out of the way, but everyone was wearing a mask as they passed.
The trees began thinning out as we drew near the summit. Around 3 miles in, we started to get some nice views of Antelope Valley to the north. Finally, we reached the Mount Baden-Powell Saddle. It was there that we would leave the PCT for the final push to the summit.
We paused under the Wally Waldron Tree for a bit. This limber pine is believed to be the oldest living thing in the entire San Gabriel Mountains and was named after Michael H. “Wally” Waldron, an L.A. area Boy Scout leader who helped organize a nine-week project to repair the trails and erect the concrete monument and plaque to Lord Baden-Powell.
We then climbed the final tenth of a mile to the summit. A couple of other hikers were milling about. The flag was there, along with two wooden signs. Since no was over by them, we opted to get our photos out of the way before taking a well-earned break.
We found some shade to the south of the summit and enjoyed a nice snack and took a brief rest. Mount Wilson’s domes could be seen off to the west. Since we knew it was only going to get hotter and there was a chance of some afternoon thunderstorms, we decided it was time to head back down. We stopped at the monument to Lord Baden,took some photos, and signed the nearby register. I found two survey markers for the summit just off to either side of the peak.
Now for the 4 miles back down to the car. The traffic on the trail was picking up, and we would stop repeatedly to let hikers pass. Almost all were wearing masks but we did pass a couple of hikers who were not. As we approached the parking lot, we could see that it had completely filled up. This was not a surprise given the number of hikers we passed during our descent. We got back to the car just after 11 am. We did the 8 miles with over 2,790 feet of elevation gain in just under 4 hours and 30 minutes (sans the break at the summit). That was my 9th peak on the Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge. Now on to planning the next one!
I am an avid peak bagger, sometimes backpacker, and former sea kayaker living in San Diego. In 2019, I became the third person to complete the San Diego 100 Peak Challenge. Not stopping with that accomplishment, I set my sights on the harder San Diego Sierra Club 100 Peak list, which I completed in 2021. In addition, I have conquered several Six-Pack of Peaks challenges (SoCal, San Diego, and Arizona-Winter). Beyond attempting the San Diego Sierra Club 100 Peak list a second time, I am looking forward to exploring new summits and new adventures across the southwest.