“Look at me,” I yelled as I we embarked on our hike on Saturday, “I’m Cheryl Strayed!”
That’s because the trail from Vincent Gap to the summit of Mt. Baden-Powell is also a section of the Pacific Crest Trail, not because I was ill-prepared for the trek or anything.
Finding the trail head is easy: It’s about eight miles west of Wrightwood on the 2 Freeway on the south side of the road. There’s a huge parking lot and a bathroom, and the trail starts just right behind there. It immediately begins gaining elevation and doesn’t let up much until you get to the top.
The good news is the trail is gorgeous from start to finish and the summit is the cherry on top: An unobstructed, 360-degree view of Southern California.
The bad news is, I have pictures of almost none of this hike. I relied a lot on my brother’s GoPro2, which he’s loaning me for Mt. Whitney. It did pretty well on Mt. San Jacinto (though not great in low light), but this time I don’t know what happened. Half the pictures I shot just aren’t there, including of some jerk who was cutting switchbacks like it was no big deal!
You will be switchbacking the whole way up, by the way. There are 40 of them, and the first 20 or so go on forever. They’re very, very long and kind of annoying in their long-ness. But after that, they quicken up and soon, you’re standing on a ridge with an astounding view. From there, you’re just about a third of a mile from the summit.
On the left, you’ll pass the Wally “Waldron” tree. It’s about 1,500 years old and believed to be the oldest tree in the San Gabriel Mountains.
You’ll know you’re at the summit when you see the monument to Robert Baden-Powell, the summit’s namesake and founder of the Boy Scouts. There’s also a register, but finding a blank space in one of the four notebooks is tough! It might be time to archive those and place some fresh ones up there.
As a Whitney training hike, I wouldn’t recommend it. Although it gets to a decent elevation (9,399 feet) and is inclined the entire way, it’s pretty short at nine miles round trip. We also had the trail almost entirely to ourselves on the way up, even though we got there at 6 a.m. which is around the time you start to see a few more people.
The entire hike was 21,155 steps, gained 3,200 feet, 9.13 miles and took us four hours round trip.
Afterward, we had lunch at the Grizzly Cafe in Wrightwood. Although it wasn’t technically lunch yet (they start lunch at 11:30; we arrived at 11), they accommodated us. How nice! We both had some burgers, Darren had onion rings and I had sweet potato fries. All of it hit the spot after being worn out from the long drive to Wrightwood and the hike.
I can’t wait to do this day trip again!