A lot more AEG than I was expecting, but I'll roll with it.
This one's been on my radar for some time, but I realistically figured it would be best to get in better shape before I went after it. My trip 1-2 weeks ago had a few hikes with some good AEG, so with autumn weather on the way, and a newly pumpkin'd work schedule, I figured it was now or next year. After a night in Anaheim (thanks, Sam!) and an hour drive through the early morning, traffic-less roads of Southern California, I was at the visitor center in Baldy Village. It was about 630 and they were closed so I was happy to have already picked up my Adventure Pass the day before.
Finding the trail was confusing. A truck pulled through the locked gate to the visitor center parking lot, and though the driver wasn't with the FS, he gave me directions. Still a little unsure of where I was going, I asked a man who was taking out his trash if I was on the right track and he reassured me I was. More walking along the road finally put me on the trail. I made my way up to Bear Flat and began the warm, exposed switchbacks through the chaparral.
I kept a steady, not-so-fast pace through the vast majority of the climb. It seems to have worked well enough. Around 6800ft, the winds became evident. The breeze was a cool relief while heading up the steady grade. I passed two backpackers who had spent the night near the peak about 4 miles up. Not long after, I came to a nice but brief section of trail similar to Devil's Backbone. This was followed by some flatter sections through a thin forest of trees that I can't indentify because I'm stupid. Not long after this, I was standing alone on top of the San Gabriel Mountains.
The winds were fierce and I took cover in one of the rock shelters after exploring for a bit. I was up there for a while. One other person walked by, but otherwise it was deserted (perhaps just too early). On the way back down, I figured I'd bag West Baldy since it was right there. I couldn't find any of the benchmarks, but that's not to say they aren't there. Coming down wasn't a quick affair. It was certainly work on the legs. I'll have to tuck and roll next time.
The following day (today if you stay current with triplogs), I snoozed until it was too late to hike San Gorgonio, despite having a wilderness permit and another Adventure Pass in my possession. I always forget that you don't feel sore until the day after. My actions were justified to some degree when I saw the awful, awful smog on the drive home. I don't recall it ever being so bad, but I probably said the same thing last time I was out there.