The Happy & The Crappy: VI
July 27, 2009

Stupid Mt. Baldy! lol. We attempted to summit Mt. Baldy again yesterday and failed. This time around (#2 if your keeping score) it was water that did us in. 3/4 of the way up with “no delays” (i.e. no wrong turns, no snakes) even though we could SEE the summit-we were going to be lucky to have enough water to get down if we turned back right then. She (my BFF) ran out of water at the back at the trail head and I ran out in the parking lot. Which amuses me to no end because we had exactly enough water to get us safely down from the spot at which we threw in the towel. Not incidentally we passed a couple of people who were completely out of water and at least one well prepared hiker that had given much of his water away to help folks that were out along the way. That’s not an excuse, that’s the reality.  Baldy handed us our asses AGAIN. It’s cool though…we have a new plan! Round three is on the horizon.

The View From Baldy

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Really Bad Movies Save Lives
July 16, 2009

This last weekend in my life was something of an adventure. It didn’t start out that way but it got there just the same. My first day home was Friday and on Friday my roommate let me know she wanted to hike Mt. Baldy on Sunday and that she wanted me to go with her. Cool. Well before that happened though I had been out of town for a week and I needed to get to a meeting or 9. One of my favorite meetings is on Friday night. It’s a combined meeting between both programs and while I go every chance I can, I have never actually shared. Long story short, 30 seconds after I walked in the door I was asked to lead the meeting. That’s one way to get over the whole sharing thing. And so it was. I had a great meeting and I hope someone/anyone/everyone else did too.

Saturday I spent at the beach with friends. It had started out a ‘lay out and read’ session with my roommate but evolved as things are wont to do. Wound up being 9 of us and it was fun. Not much reading involved and…uh, way to much sun. I can’t recall the last time I burned but Saturday made up for lost time. There is a point to this AND it does involve a really bad movie! Given the impending hike on Sunday and my sad physical state… Saturday night was spent on the couch, hydrating and watching Volcano.

Bad B Movies

Volcano, by virtue of it’s budget probably doesn’t qualify as a B movie but it certainly should. Turns out I don’t actually like Bad movies but I grew up watching any number of B movies with my Mom. In particular, my Mom had on, watched ad nauseum and/or owned every DISASTER movie ever made. No shit. Towering Inferno. Them. The Day The Animals Fought Back. Grizzly. Every Godzilla movie EVER made. More recently…Dante’s Peak, Armageddon and, of course, Volcano. If everyone everywhere is GOING to die my Mom is in. She does NOT watch horror. No blood, no guts. An imminent agonizing death in a burning building-okay. Giant nuclear Ants, why not! Any number of these movies, if you have not had the pleasure, are AWFUL. The plots, the cinematography, the  ‘special’ effects (Oh. Dear. God.). Very little redeeming value in any of these films. Do not misunderstand me, I do LOVE sci-fi. I’m not above a good DISASTER film. I just prefer to skip the crappy movies. And, YET, sometimes I find comfort in watching them and THEM for that matter.

them

 

Volcano. I’m lounging on the couch watching Tommy Lee Jones wondering wtf he was thinking, anybody? This story, you know, about the Volcano under Wilshire Blvd in Los Angeles is RIDICULOUS. No less absurd is Anne Heche’s turn as the brainy (Really? bad casting. bad. bad casting. bad.) geologist. Right. Sorry. So Anne Heche is horrible. Really she’s NOT GOOD  but in her defense neither is the movie. The point in the film that sent me into peels of laughter is when Heche rolls up on the scene of several emergency personnel (Firemen, EMT, Cops, etc.) scattering in ‘terror’ because the Volcano is belching out “Lava Balls.” Heche, in her best butch voice yells some shit to the effect of, “NO! Don’t run. Watch it (the Lava Ball). See where it’s going. NOW!”  Subsequent to that all parties leap to safety, thanks Anne! The ‘failed’ intensity of that scene is HILARIOUS. I was practically in tears. If I could find the exact scene I would have shared it, you will just have to settle for watching the “Lava Balls” in the trailer, enjoy!

 

Summiting Is Over Rated

So I giggle my way through Saturday night and on Sunday morning it’s off to Mt. Baldy. At about 10,000 ft, Mt. Baldy is the highest point in Los Angeles. My roomie is doing some trail running and she needs to spend time running at higher elevations. Baldy is the spot. I haven’t hiked the Angeles or the San Gabriel mountains in close to a decade and she hasn’t spent much time up there at all so this past ‘hike’ was a fact finding endeavor. We learned a lot. For example, the shot below does not depict the beginning of the trail we were looking for. It does however, depict the beginning of the trail we took.

Do you know the way to Lookout Mt.?

Do you know the way to Lookout Mt.?

 

Yeah. In our defense, we encountered the FIRST rattlesnake in the PARKING LOT. OK, not in the parking lot but only several feet from it. I knew he (it would seem that I fundamentally believe all rattlesnakes to be MALE) was there when I was being tossed backward by my friend. Before I could get my bearings back I heard him and then I saw him. Just a few feet to my right, coiled in strike position. He was pissed. We didn’t discuss it but he made his position of hostility very clear. That being said, we moved passed him and then spent a great deal of time scanning the path we walked at foot level. That uber-attentive path scanning is how we walked right past the ‘break in the bushes’ that signified the start of the Bear Canyon trail. On that tip, it turns out that there is not a single trail marker up on Baldy. When I say the ‘break in the bushes,’ you know the one just past the creek? Yeah, that IS the trail marker. So, we missed it.

We were on a trail though and moving right along. For the first hour and a half anyway. The thing is, we hit a point on what we now know to be the Lookout trail wherein some serious rock scrambling was required. We were making our way up parallel to one another until it became clear that if this ‘scramble’ were to continue, given the terrain, we did NOT have the gear for ALL THAT. So, my friend continues up to a clearing just to have a look and I halt on an outcropping–50ft or so below where she winds up. She surmises that the rock scrambling continues and that there is just NO way we’re going to continue on that route. Mind you, nothing we’ve got or read on this trail said it was that intense that early! All warnings and YES there are WARNINGS, suggest that the last mile or so before the summit is the worst. That we were ready for, this we were not. AHAHAHAHA! Two guesses where this is going and the first one doesn’t count! My friend is on her way down. There was a lot of shale (loose rock) and a few large boulders none of which were fixed. She started to slide on her way down and in the process kicked loose a rock approximately the size of my head and shoulders combined. I stood there, listening to Anne Heche screaming in my head, “NO! Don’t run. Watch it (FUCKING BOULDER). See where it’s going. NOW!” It occurred to me latently of course, “YOU HAVE GOT TO BE SHITTING ME RIGHT NOW. ” The rock which began to my left, actually hit a fixed boulder, changed directions and came down on my immediate right. Awesome. Thanks, Anne.

We made our way back to the beginning of the trail head and encountered a fellow hiker who directed us to the Bear Canyon trail. At that point we were at a 3 hour deficit and low on water so we knew that we would not be making it to the summit. The hiker was confident that we had enough water to comfortably get to Bear Flat and that is where we headed. We made it too. Though not before our SECOND rattlesnake of the day. This one was YOUNG. Not angry and not moving. He elected to stop and hang out right next to the trail (which at this point consisted of a series of narrow switchbacks). Great. Just great.

Spot the jerk...er snake.

Spot the jerk...er snake.

 

Despite the setbacks, we learned a lot, had a good time and look forward to our imminent return. The pics below are actually from the Bear Canyon trail which while we were on it was FANTASTIC!

The view from on high...

The view from on high...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bear Flat

Bear Flat