A Jazz Hands Baldy

(8/20/12) Trip report and pics by Glen Raines

It has been a while since Perfect Pace has done the Manker Flats / Ski Hut trail to Mt. Baldy summit at 10,068, the highest peak in the San Gabriel Mountains and 3rd highest point in Southern California. I was excited about a change to the trip which was creating a loop trip out of it by integrating the tight-rope walk of Devil's Backbone with a return down the ski lift fire road. Five of us met at the trailhead. I embraced and caught up with two Perfect Pace friends, Alex and John, who I haven't seen or hiked with in so long. I also got my buddy Jordan, who I met through the AIDS LifeCycle, to join us. The weather conditions we're amazing, considering there was a chance of thunderstorms projected.

Although the ski hut trail is a pretty strenuous trail, this fit group made record pace on this trip. We had so much energy by the time we reached the top, we couldn't help but do vigorous jazz hands for the group summit photo. Well... actually, the entire trip was done in jazz hands, lol. View the pictures to see what I mean. Walking across the tightrope of Devil's Backbone created some breathtaking vertigo challenge for some of us, as steep chutes on either side of a skinny little trail presented itself in certain sections. We stopped at the Baldy Notch restaurant bar for a fun soda break, trying to keep our composure as the cute bar back filled beer pitchers. The restaurant was crowded, understandably so as folks tried to escape the city heat. Although they all made it up the easy way via the ski lift.

We strolled down the ski lift fire road back down to the trailhead and enjoyed a fabulous tailgate party and conversation. Other hikers passed our tailgate party and said, "You guys are fast!". I was beginning to think I was getting old and slowing down. I guess not, lol. Vive Perfect Pace!