Winter is an exciting time for peakbaggers--it opens up new possibilities and makes old hikes new again. We may have bagged most of the peaks in the San Gabriels, but we haven't done many of them in the snow yet, so this winter we'll be dusting off our crampons and ice axes and discovering a whole new San Gabriel Mountains.
There are group full moon hikes on Mt. Baldy where they hike the Devil's Backbone Trail to Baldy Notch and party at the restaurant up there. That sounded cute and all, but why not continue on to the top of Baldy?
Hiking at night wasn't nearly as creepy as I was expecting. We ran into two groups of hikers descending as we were making our way up. In some ways, the dark makes it less scary; since you can't see the deadly drops on either side of the Backbone, there's no reason to believe they're even still there.
This was my first time ascending the Devil's Backbone and the summit push was actually a little bit harder than I was expecting, and it didn't help that it was also windy and freezing. The view of the city lights from the top was amazing and different, but it wasn't the relaxing summit party I'm used it. There were three tents up there so we weren't completely alone, but we still had the cold to deal with, along with the darkness making it difficult to tell how far we were from the edge.
We got back down to the Notch just as the restaurant was closing, so there were still a few people left on the mountain. We were definitely the only humans hiking on the fire road headed back to Manker Flats however. The rustling of large animals in the trees off the trail was starting to freak us out so we did some speed hiking all the way back to the car. Maybe those competitive hikers who do Baldy in 2 hours only do it because they think the mountain lions are coming for them.