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Mount San Antonio to Iron Mountain #1

June 4, 2011

By: Janice Boyd

The June 4, 2011 HPS Boomerang outing was an adventure initiated by Ignacia Doggett, to hike from Manker Flats to Baldy-Iron-Baldy ending at Manker Flats. It was a there-and-back duplicating the outbound route.

My journey with them was from Mt. Baldy to Big Iron, ending at Heaton Flats.

At 4:40 a.m. we started from Manker Flats, FOUR leaders + FIVE participants.

The June 1st new moon resulted in dark sky with no clouds or ambient light. A headlamp wasn't needed when we started the hike on the smooth paved road. When we reached the Ski Hut Trail, the beginning of sunrise was enough to see the ground.

At 5:48 a.m. we reached the green Ski Hut. Here, we took a 20 minute break. People filled water bottles from the natural spring and from inside the ski hut. Bill Simpson's painful foot condition had flared up and from here we continued without him.

At 7:10 a.m. we reached the summit of Mt. Baldy (4,000' gain), which was a FAST moving pace of 2 hours, 10 minutes! The clear morning sky gave us distant views. It was windy and cold. Walking over to West Baldy, we crossed a snowfield which was frozen and crunchy.

From West Baldy we descended on the San Antonio Ridge following a nice but faded use trail. The previous Saturday (May 28) Ignacia, Peter, Amin and Janice scouted half this route (15 miles/6,500' gain) making it half way to Big Iron and stashing water. Having recently hiked this route made it a quick and familiar descent.

As we approached the dreaded "gun sight" notch, one participant spooked and declined to go any further. This section was exhiliarating and suspenseful. We had the option of climbing an exposed Class 3 section or a less exposed loose chute, which we chose to do. The chute was slippery with no reliable handholds, brittle shale and branches that would break off, a sheer drop off on one side.

The climbing sections continued with potentially fatal vertical drops. I'd never climbed anything like it. Having had no training with rock climbing, I appreciated the M-Rated leadership of Matthew and rock climbing skills of Matthew and Jen.

At 12:45 p.m. we reached the summit of Big Iron (Iron Mountain #1). How uncanny that from behind us came two different groups of hikers who traveled through the "gun sight" notch and followed us up to Big Iron!

Since my preference had been to hike the "Baldy-Iron" traverse via car shuttle, many thanks to Matthew for persuading his friends Kim Bruel and Laurent to climb Big Iron that day from Heaton Flats (they started at 6:30 a.m.) and be available to give us a ride back to Manker Flats. Their arrival on Big Iron at 1:30 p.m. was perfect timing!

At 1:40 p.m. Ignacia's group headed back to Mt. Baldy and Peter/Janice headed down to Heaton Flats. It was fun jogging down the steep, rocky trail to Allison Saddle, then down to Heat Flats on a trail that was ablaze with flowering color. Thanks so much to Kim and Laurent for giving us a ride back to our vehicles at Manker Flats.

From Big Iron, it took Peter/Janice 4 hours to descend to Heaton Flats. From Big Iron, it took Ignacia's group 7-1/2 hours to return to Manker Flats, finishing at 9:10 p.m.

The weather was perfect keeping us cool all day. None of us needed our water stash. The clear views all around were breathtaking! I loved hiking the San Antonio Ridge, an alluring and pristine area!!

Dinner afterwards was lively and a wonderful end to this memorable day!

Baldy-Iron-Baldy: 20 miles, 9,300' gain / 9,300' loss
Baldy-Iron: 18 miles, 6,400' gain / 10,600' loss (Peter & Janice)

Ignacia Doggett / Peter Doggett / Matthew Hengst / Bill Simpson
John Slages / Amin Faraday / Jen Blackie / Dagmar / Janice Boyd

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