SA Guide: Mt. Baldy

...with the sound of rap music, and a whole lot of people.

Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration. To be honest, I only heard some snippets of hip-hop weakly blustering from the inside of one hiker's pack - and considering how many people we encountered, I have to count that as a win.

Last Saturday Laura and I, caught up in a wave of self-confidence (self-flagellation?), decided to hike to the third highest peak in southern California (and highest in L.A. County) - Mt. San Antonio, more popularly known as Mt. Baldy. We got a great start, leaving Orange County at 6 AM and arrived at the lot in Manker Flat at 7:30 - to be greeted by some 80 to 90 cars already parked and emptied of gear and hikers.

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SA Guide: Monument Hill, Vernal Pools, Granite Loop

"When the bough breaks..."

During the night before New Year's Eve 2014, snow fell on parts of southern California that hadn't seen such a thing for a very long time. It wasn't necessarily a shock that the flakes appeared in the sky, it wasn't even that some made it to the ground. What was truly unusual was that the snow collected, and turned parts of the Southland into a scene straight out of Dickens. 

It was delightful, and yet somewhat disturbing.

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SA Guide: Yosemite Falls, Bridalveil Falls, Middle Falls vista, Merced River loop, Lower Grove loop

There was a good crowd in church during our last visit. The pews weren't full, but the conditions were, after all, quite cold and overcast, with a hint of drizzle in the air (maybe even snow at the higher elevations).

Even so, everyone was generally cheery. Most smiled and offered greetings, some in that clipped but enthusiastic kind of "Hi" which suggests a congregant from a foreign land. But if the tongues may not have been familiar, the veneration was shared - it was in everyone's eyes. This church transcends language and culture, and conventional communication.

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SA Guide: White Mountain Peak

The word "Fourteener" (or "14er") has a kind of transcendent cachet for almost anyone who's put a few miles on their hiking boots. A fourteen-thousand-plus foot summit is Mt. Whitney territory. It's high enough to feel the air thin and the sun blaze, and see the weather coming from miles away. And since there aren't that many of them (67 in the lower 48, only 12 in California) fourteeners are something of a hiking benchmark.

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