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Bridge to Baldy loop, suggestions welcomed
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Mitch Chesney
(MChesney) - F
Bridge to Baldy loop, suggestions welcomed on 05/03/2012 09:12:33 MDT Print View

I'm becoming a bit of a masochist - 5 days on the road for business and then a weekend full of bushwhacking. Soon as I step off the plane I'm heading over to the San Gabriels in southern California for a loop I've been planning (read: daydreaming) for a while. The trip would follow this itinerary:

Friday
0. 9pm Drive to Baldy Visitor Centre
1. Start up Bear Canyon Trail to West Baldy (Mount San Antonio West)
2. Camp overnight at summit

Saturday
0. 6am Pack out
1. Hike along San Antonio Ridge to Iron Mountain (Sheep)
2. Make my way down the north ridge and gully to Fish Fork
3. Hike down The Narrows to Bridge to Nowhere for camp (where is suitable flat land around this area? I'm willing to climb a ridge)

Sunday
0. 6am Pack out
1. Hike BtN trail to TH and follow the riverbed back towards Baldy. There is a two-track path along the riverbed.
2. Take the connecting forestry service road over the ridge to the Baldy Visitor Centre
3. Loop Completed (30+ miles)

Preliminary Google Earth route (and elevation graph) here: http://29.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m3ez7h0PfI1rv3ob8o1_1280.png

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Bridge to Baldy loop, suggestions welcomed on 05/03/2012 09:35:34 MDT Print View

Sounds like a good trip. A few things:

*Can't really camp at Bridge to Nowhere. It's "private" property for a half mile above it and below it, "owned" by a bungie jumping company. Expect 100+ college aged singles there to get "extreme" by about 9-10am in the morning. There are many obnoxious and abusive signs threatening you about its private ownership and how you can't stay there. They are periodically destroyed :)

*There are plenty of cool spots to camp in the vicinity of the bridge though. Where Fish Fork meets the East fork, there is a good spot to camp.

*Count on everything from Fish Fork to the East Fork to the Bridge to be fairly slow going. Trails are very eroded and overgrown in places, sometime nonexistant. It's totally passable, just don't expect to be flying down a maintained trail; lots of crossings, expect poison oak, and a bit of bushwhacking in places. Not being discouraging, just rough in places.

Have a good one.

Roger Dodger
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: Wess Siide
Re: Bridge to Baldy loop, suggestions welcomed on 05/03/2012 10:04:57 MDT Print View

I was confused with the map at first, thinking Mt Baldy Village (proper), but now I see WEST-siiiide.


A few things come to mind:

* The baldy area got some snow and sun in recent past weeks, but the temps are still cold at altitude. so the snow melt re-freezes into slippery ice.

* Bridge to Nowhere, haven't been there since 1997, but I don't think it changed much, you should expect stream crossing about 10x. This time of the year the stream is about waist high, running strong with pushing force, and freezing balls.

I would pad the mileage and time, 30+ miles is very conservative, those may be Topo map miles, but trail miles are more, and slower.

There's really no good place to camp along the Bridge to Nowhere, that trail is a zoo, which is why I stopped going there. The bungee jumping operation, the muchachos with hunting shotgun at the bottom, and teenagers leaving broken beer bottle glass everywhere. There's just no privacy with mass crowds on the weekend.

Best of luck to you, seems like an exciting adventure.

Keep us posted of your post trip report.

Edited by RogerDodger on 05/03/2012 10:07:20 MDT.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Bridge to Baldy loop, suggestions welcomed on 05/03/2012 11:01:10 MDT Print View

1997 was 15 years ago...Things have changed much for the better since then. It has been seriously cleaned up; I remember the days you are talking about.

Yes, there are huge crowds on weekends and the associated issues, but that's typically only in the first few miles. I've only seen the trash you talk about around the parking lot.

I camped up the East Fork with my daughter last weekend and generally go there a lot.
There are a TON of private places to camp, well out of sight of the trail and other hikers. Heading home with her on Sunday morning at 8am, we passed 5 people on the way out, tops. Noon on Memorial day is a different story.You have to know the times and the sweet spots. Check my blog for endless picks of private campsites and beautiful canyon views on the East Fork.

Baldy snow won't be an issue right now.

Roger Dodger
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: Wess Siide
Re: Re: Re: Bridge to Baldy loop, suggestions welcomed on 05/03/2012 11:22:12 MDT Print View

Craig,
...15 years ago *I'm in denial* :)

It was very sad for me to see a bunch of graffiti on Swan Rock. Glad the area improved.

In 1997, some kids TP'd the bridge, then thought it was funny to light the TP on fire and watch the roll burn. they ended up causing a forest fire.

When the kids got busted, their lawyers made up a story that it was for environmental reasons LNT and they were burning 'used' TP, instead of littering, an innocent mistake, not troublemaker kids.

That was my turning point to look elsewhere. Glad things got cleaned up, my friend and I still reminisce about that stream crossing adventure, to a bridge that goes nowhere :)

http://articles.latimes.com/print/1997/aug/15/local/me-22632

Adan Lopez
(Lopez) - F

Locale: San Gabriel Valley
Baldy to Bridge on 05/03/2012 11:32:28 MDT Print View

Hey that's a fun loop. I'm sure you know what you're in for going from Baldy to Iron to Fish Fork..."fun".

Depending on your shelter, maybe all you need is a small bivy spot and no fire. If so, then you could probably find a suitable place near the bridge as the river often has small, sandy beaches along its banks. Poach yourself a night right on the bridge itself, done! Of course, if you need room for a whole tent then you may have to go a bit further down toward the trailhead, but not far, about a mile down from the bridge.

Have fun, hope you can find time to post up some pics/notes when you return.

Mitch Chesney
(MChesney) - F
How are the narrows in high water? on 05/03/2012 11:53:01 MDT Print View

Thanks everyone for your prompt responses. And from everyone's experience of the BtN I'm glad I've not gone yet, despite the urging of so many people. I expected high water but how would the narrows be? Navigable? Otherwise is it worth the risk of an expedient float downriver?

Roger Dodger
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: Wess Siide
Re: How are the narrows in high water? on 05/03/2012 12:25:14 MDT Print View

I do recall that you could walk a long way on the margins till you hit a dead end and it's not passable. contemplate a spiderman rock wall climbing maneuver... then you see someone else cross the stream 50 yards back, so you back track a minute, and cross at the wide (and low water) spot.

Also, I learned this the hard and fun way.
There is a high trail and a low trail.
When going upstream, all you see is the trail on inside of the stream, beach sand etc.
but those coming downhill, have the advantage of line of sight from elevation, looking down, can spot the high trail. the benefits here is less stream crossing, because you can stay dry on the high trail. Granted the low trail by the creek is more fun, but slows you down significantly, because you careful plant your footing and don't want to split your noggin. I remember not having trekking poles, but back then (it's ok to laugh at me) I carried a huge knife, so I grabbed a fallen branch and wacked it with the knife repeatedly to fashion a walking stick to anchor me while stream crossing. No BPL then, although I only had clothes on, no pack, no food or water. I drank straight from the creek at the fast spots, only got cramps, no long term damage.

The first trail crossing, everyone is careful taking off their shoes, keeping socks dry, etc. After the 4th crossing, the same people come to the same conclusion to F* it, and just go with shoes on. Shoes on/off routine gets old very quick.

Mitch Chesney
(MChesney) - F
Re: Re: How are the narrows in high water? on 05/03/2012 12:35:46 MDT Print View

I've been following Skurka's advice on foot management and accept trail runners will get soaked (but dry fast). I'm just going to pack my down bag in a Sea to Summit dry sack and let water be damned. Then again, if there is a high trail and crossings will be minimal I may forgo the Sea to Summit.

Edit: Oh yea I see it on the topo - Stanley Miller high trail on the east side. Will make sure to hit that :D

Edited by MChesney on 05/03/2012 12:38:14 MDT.