|Iron Mountain's southeast ridge|
Because of its reputation as the hardest single peak to bag in the San Gabriels, ballsy hikers are always blustering on about breaking their record times hiking Iron Mountain, while even experienced hikers are happy to complete it within daylight hours.
|Heaton Flat Trail (the calm before the storm)|
On a weekday in February, the trail was understandably empty. After our first attempt, we read a considerable number of trip reports so we were expecting to see at least a few people on a clear Sunday in October, but we were definitely the only people around. We didn't see any bears or mountain lions either, but they left plenty of evidence of their close proximity all over the trail. In the forested area right before the saddle, we heard a large animal rustling around, fortunately lacking the characteristic stealth and aggressiveness of a mountain lion. Unfortunately, we didn't spot the bear that saw us, and we thankfully didn't see any of the mountain lions that were surely aware of and annoyed by our presence on their mountain
Iron Mountain has been called lots of things, but a disappointment isn't one of them. It might not be the highest peak around (8,007') but it's so isolated that it every time you turn around on the trail you see rows and rows of ridges that you've never seen before even though you've done dozens of hikes on trails just a few miles away.
|Pine, Dawson, and Baldy|
Once we finally passed the hardest part of the hike and got back to the saddle, we made sure to make as much noise as possible to avoid surprising any angry lions or bears and kicked up the speed to make sure we got back before dark. We did run in spots, but as smart people might point out, running is not a good way to avoid confrontations with mountain lions since running humans look strikingly similar to running deer, through the eyes of those silly deadly lions.