A Challenge to the Senses

(8/16/06) Written by Allan W.

In his description, Glen wrote "This hike will be the easiest Perfect Pace hike this summer." The trek up through about 40 switchbacks was only 4 miles. There was only a 2800 foot elevation gain. As we ascended at a leisurely, conversational pace, the group was passed for the first time in Perfect Pace history by a sole hiker. So, you're thinking, is Glen getting soft? [Glen interjects - the calm before the storm my friends... the calm before the storm] And, then, you get there, hike Mt. Baden-Powell, and realize Glen is offering a challenge to the senses.

Mt. Baden-Powell, named for Lord Baden-Powell, the man who founded the Boy Scouts of America (check out his bio - he was a strange one), is one of the highest peaks in the San Gabriel Mountains. The trail head at Vincent Gap presaged a wonderful day of hiking for 14 perfect pacers. Open forests of oak, Sugar pines, Jeffrey pines, cedars, and Lodge Pole Pines greeted us with odiferous offerings.

Lamel Spring, about a third of the way up, was, well, at least a good place to rest, although, the spring seemed to be quite springless. Nonetheless, as we climbed, the vistas along the turns of each switchback were spectacular. About a quarter mile before the summit, we were graced with the presence of Limber Pines. Some of these trees, gnarled and twisted in elegance, date back to biblical times. The "Wally" Waldron tree was 'Dedicated as a tribute to Michael H. "Wally" Waldron for his untiring efforts for the Boy Scouts of America. The Wally Waldron Tree is estimated to be 1,500 years old.'

Within minutes, we reached the summit of 9499 feet. A plaque and monument erected in 1957 by the Boy Scouts of America, honors Lord Baden-Powell. Apparently before 1931, the mountain was known as "North Baldy". As there were other hikers, we walked until we came across an open and secluded yet shaded area to have our leisurely lunch. At this point, Frank and Paul joined us - they really must've booked up quickly.

Looking below, we could see an ocean of clouds with white wavy crests. Farther still, there seemed to be a larger wave rolling in. As we walked along the top of Mt. Baden-Powell, the sun warming and soothing, one couldn't help think that something ominous was approaching as the fog seemed the scramble up the walls of the valley.

Our descent was scenic. There was a point for all of us when we felt we had entered a new clime - descending into a haze that cooled the air and the softest mist clung to our hair. Becka's Homo-Eca Kitchen awaited us in the parking lot. Always a pleasure to end a hike with a healthy meal - and a beer if you so choose. There were great conversations with new people as well as the veterans (as always, but it never ceases to amaze me) and cool stories that demonstrate the diversity of this group. I always look forward to a hike with Perfect Pace. Mt. Baden-Powell, a glorious hike full of history and picturesque landscapes, is a must-see.