Sunday, August 4, 2013

On Top of Mt. Baldy...All Covered With...?

 Mt. Baldy, all covered with snow, towers over Los Angeles in the wintertime

     A group of us climbed 10,000+ foot Mt. Baldy yesterday afternoon. Of course, it wasn't "all covered with snow," as it's the middle of summer.  But I had to show the photo above, because:

This is what Mt. Baldy looks like in the middle of summer, from the Los Angeles basin

                            During the summer, you need to get pretty close to Mt. Baldy to
                   even know that she's there, thanks to the horrifyingly thick blanket of smog.

This map shows the trail to the top of Mt. Baldy (her official name is Mt. San Antonio, but nobody calls it that anymore. Sorry, Tony, whoever you are.). You start at the trailhead in the lower left, head up to the ski hut, then continue on up to the summit.

We arrived at the trailhead just as the sun was rising over the mountain. Note the smog way down in the distance, covering Los Angeles. We're above it all up here!

      This was the last time I'd see my husband for several more hours. Chris, Kent and Mark headed straight up the trail like the mountain men they are, leaving little old me to chug along at my own pace.

   Now, you might think it was dangerous or irresponsible for the guys to leave me alone to climb the mountain at my own leisurely speed. But the Baldy trail always has 100-200 climbers every weekend.

     Korean hikers, to be exact. There are dozens of them on Baldy on any given Saturday. Hiking and climbing are apparently very big in Korea. Because there are way more Chinese and Vietnamese immigrants in the LA area, but you never see them on the trail. Only the Koreans.

Anyway, the three of them bagged the summit, but I stopped at the ridge, about 3/4 of the way up. My excuse is I was fresh out of Cliff Bars. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.  :-) Regardless, my turn-around point was 9,000 feet, which ain't chopped liver. :-)

                   Wildflowers and a gently flowing stream greeted us along the trail

                                                             A steep drop-off

                                                               First stop: the ski hut

              The conditions were perfect: a gentle, cool breeze and a warm sun to climb by

                                                    Interesting whispy clouds

                                                                 Trees, river and trail

                              Even though it's August, there are still wildflowers on the mountain

                                                                      A rippling creek

                                                            The trail is well kept

                          Looking up to the summit from the trailhead far below

                         Looking up at the Baldy Bowl from the ski hut.  People ski the bowl
              during the winter, although it is strongly discouraged. People die here every year.

                                                 She's a real beauty

                                                     Mountain meadow

              Hikers head down the mountain, while a strange cloud shape takes form above

      You know, since this is so close to Hollywood, I had my eyes peeled during my day on the mountain in case I might run into a climbing/hiking celebrity.

                             You never know: Tom Cruise has to practice this stuff somewhere!

                                                            Or maybe James Franco?

                                                                Or Steve Zahn?

                                      How about Sylvester Stallone and Janine Turner?

                         Or maybe Ozzie Osbourne's son, Jack. That's him on the right.
                                           Did you know he climbed El Capitan?

   But for whatever strange reason, celebrities as a whole are not generally the outdoor type.

                      The last time I climbed Mt. Baldy, however, I DID have a celebrity
                                        encounter right up there on the mountain.

       About halfway through the climb, an attractive man came up to me and asked: "Pardon me, but have you by chance misplaced your spectacles?" I said I hadn't. "Well," he replied, "I've found a pair of spectacles and I was told they belonged to a blonde woman here on this mountain."

  Upon seeing him in closer proximity, I recognized him as the actor Julian Sands.

                                        I don't usually go for the long-haired thing in men,
                                 but let's just say on our friend Julian -- well, it just works. :-)

       Julian may not be Tom Cruise, but he's been in some of my favorite movies, including The Killing Fields, Ocean's Thirteen, and 1991's Impromptu, where he plays Franz Liszt to Hugh Grant's Frederic Chopin.

             Julian's hair in this movie is marvelous. Hugh's? Not so much...   :-/   But if you've never seen Impromptu I can't recommend it strongly enough. It's funny, touching, and really really smart. Netflix it today.

   Anyway, I sent Julian on his way. It wasn't until the climb was over that I realized that I HAD, in fact lost my glasses (I mean "spectacles" -- it was so cute the way he said the word in his British accent). But alas, Julian was gone. With my glasses. Ah, well.

      Here's Julian in a more recent film. Hey, wait a minute...those glasses look familiar!    :-/

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