Baden-Powell (via Dawson’s Saddle)

The drive from Palm Springs to Wrightwood was uneventful. I decided to grab lunch along the way in Cazabon and refuel the Outback. After the mid-70s atop San Jacinto, the 100+ temps on the desert floor felt awful. The next peak on my adventure was Baden-Powell. Originally when I planned the adventure, I had hoped to hike out to the Big Horn Mine in the afternoon, but this heat wave we were having scuttled that idea. That hike is south-facing and without a lot of shade. I checked into my campsite at Table Mountain and then drove the 10 minutes back into Wrightwood to hit the market. I grabbed some soda, a couple of beers, and a bag of ice. Back at the campsite, I unpacked the backpack and the slack-pack and then reassembled my daypack. Soon I could feel my stomach being to grumble and headed again back into Wrightwood for dinner. After a nice Carne Asada burrito plate, I drove back to finish setting up for the night. Last year, I bought a custom air mattress for the Outback from Luno. In about 5 minutes, I had all the parts inflated and ready. The camp host stopped by and we chatted a bit. He said tonight the campground was mostly empty, but tomorrow it would be packed. I gathered some of the downed wood and enjoyed a small campfire as night fell. I crawled into the back of the Outback and listened to an audiobook for a while before drifting off to sleep. 

I woke again before dawn. I can see why they sell window covers, but I had a long day of hiking ahead of me and it was going to be warm, so I did not mind. I made my breakfast, this time some biscuits and gravy from Mountain House. If the temperatures had been milder, I might have considered breakfast in town. I deflated the mattress, relocated my other items, and set off toward Dawson’s Saddle. I had climbed Baden-Powell twice before, each time via the Vincent Gap trailhead and the infamous switchbacks. But this time, I decided to approach it from the other route. I passed the parking lot at Vincent Gap and there were about 5 cars parked there. 

Finding the parking area for Dawson’s Saddle was fairly easy, I just had to look for the CalTrans shed and park to the side. The full plan for the day was to hike from the saddle to Throop Peak, then continue along the ridge east to Mount Burnham and then Baden-Powell. I grabbed my gear and crossed over the Angeles Crest Highway to the trail. This first section of the trail was steep, and I honestly began to reconsider just doing the switchbacks. I knew though, that after a short portion of this, the trail would mellow out. As I gained the ridge that I would follow toward Throop, I was rewarded with some great views to the west, as well as some nice views to the south, including Throop Peak. The trail certainly became much more reasonable as I continued to climb. After about 1.5 miles, the trail splits. To the left is a connector trail that joins the Pacific Crest Trail or you can stay heading south to climb up to the summit of Throop Peak. I missed the junction, but since the trail made a turn to the east, I stopped and checked my route. I was just a bit off, so I did a quick U-turn, followed by some short cross-country hiking, and found the trail. I had about 4/10 mile to gain about 450 feet. I paced myself as I worked up toward the summit. I had a long day ahead of me and had a respectable day of hiking the day before. Soon the summit came into view and I spotted the metal plaque and ever-present summit signs. I snapped my photos and soaked in yet another summit vista. Off to the east stood my next two peaks, Mount Burnham and the primary goal, Baden-Powell. Once I was ready, I set off down from the summit to connect with the PCT. 

Once on the PCT, I had about a mile to go before the junction to summit Mount Burnham. From previous trip reports, I knew this approach was also a bit steep. I made the decision to bypass it and continue on to my primary goal of Baden-Powell and summit Burnham on my return. As I continued eastward on the PCT, I would be passed from time to time by actual PCT thru-hikers. We would stop for a bit and chat before each heading our separate ways. The views along the trail were delightful. At times, I could see the high desert to the north, and at other times off toward the Los Angeles basin.

Finally, I came to the junction that would take me up to the summit of Baden-Powell. Again, this is a short but steep climb. I kept my eyes focused on the trail in front of me and plodded upward. Soon, the familiar concrete monument was in front of me. I dropped my pack next to it and wandered over to the summit flag. I snapped a few photos, but I have found that I tend to take less at the summits when I revisit them. This time was no exception. I sat next to the monument to Lord Baden-Powell and enjoyed a well-earned snack. Off to my west, I could see my return route. From this side, the ascent of Mount Burnham looked much more hospitable. Once I was refreshed, I set off back the way I came. Looking back, I should have gone the other way, just to see the Wally Waldron tree before rejoining the PCT. Oh well…

I cruised along the PCT knowing for the most part, I would be descending, but with a few short climbs from time to time just to keep things interesting. I reached the junction to leave the PCT and make the climb up to Mount Burnham. I made my way up the trail, stopping briefly once to photograph Baden-Powell. I really only had to go about 500 feet with just about 100 feet of gain. A bit nicer than 3/10 mile and over 300 feet of gain. At the summit, a small rock cairn had been constructed, and the summit sign was placed next to it. I found a register and signed it. After a few photos, I set off down the other side. As I made my way down back toward the PCT, I was validated by my choice to do this peak upon my return. 

The trail would continue on, treating me to more views along the way. Soon I reached the junction with the side trail that avoided climbing back up Throop Peak. This was that same trail I was briefly on earlier in the day. I had about 2.3 miles mostly descending back toward Dawson’s Saddle. From time to time, I would see the burned slopes of Mount Lewis just to the north of where I was parked. That area burned during the Bobcat fire back in 2020. Along the way, I passed a group of four hikers heading out for Baden-Powell, I wished them well and continued on. Once safely down that short steep section, I again crossed the highway to my car. I really enjoyed the climb to Baden-Powell this way. While it had some moments, it felt less of a challenge and more of a hike. I would like to come back and explore some of the other peaks in the area. After changing out of the hiking clothes and a quick rinse, I headed down to the high desert and over toward Frazier Park and what was to be my next set of peaks; Mt. Pinos and Sawmill Mountain. The final stats for this hike were 8.5 miles, in 4:46 with 2,640 feet of gain.

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, Central Coast, 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. 

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