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So Cal Six Pack of Peaks, Part 4 Conquering the Backbone

Peak Summited2021 Mount Baldy
Type of HikeDay hike
TrailheadSan Antonio Falls Trailhead (Manker Flats)
Road ConditionsRoad suitable for all vehicles
Bug StatusBugs were not too bad
Snow ConditionsSnow free
Trail ConditionsTrail in good condition

It is not an exaggeration to say I have been mentally preparing for this hike for 10 months. What dominated my thoughts about this hike was the Devil's Backbone Trail.  As others have pointed out, it is not as bad as the photos make it seem.  I just kept my eyes straight and did not look to the right or left.

I started the hike at about 5a at the San Antonio Falls Trailhead, just past Manker Flats Campground.  I did the loop counterclockwise, going up the Devil's Backbone Trail and down the Baldy Bowl Trail.  It was great weather for the hike. I had specifically looked at wind forecasts because I wanted to make sure I would not be crossing the Devil's Backbone ridge in strong winds.  Although I am very scared of heights, there were no points in which I felt scared on the ridge (I think trekking poles also helped me with this).  My actual reaction after crossing it was, “Wait, that was it?” I am still not sure I would want to cross it in strong winds (or any kind of bad weather).

The final push to the top was difficult. I stopped a lot as I made that final ascent but the views at the top helped ease the pain of that last stretch.

The trail was not crowded as I went up Devil's Backbone. I ran into more people as I made the final push to the summit and it was definitely more crowded when I made the descent on Baldy Bowl Trail.  I can definitely see why a lot of people choose to do the loop clockwise.  The steep descent on the Baldy Bowl Trail can be a bit difficult with the loose rock and it is hard on the feet.  I may try it clockwise next time, although the hike up the Baldy Bowl Trail will be tough.

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  1. I’ve done this a total of 3 times now and I’ve done it both ways, and I still swear by the counter hike. My time was again over 30 minutes faster today then when I did it clockwise. Also, just look at the agony on the face of those that were out there today going clockwise. It’s more of challenge going clockwise so pick your poison, but again my preferred method will always be counter clockwise.