San Antonio Falls

ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST

Activity: Day Hike, Chasing Waterfalls

1.5 miles, 275’ elevation change, 45 minute duration, rated Easy

3-2-21

San Antonio Falls is fed from the snow melt of Mount San Antonio also know as Mount Baldy. That being said, the best time to view the falls with the most flow would be late Winter or earlier Spring. The delightful 80’ falls has several tiers to it as it takes a couple twists and turns.

The hike starts where you park just a little past Manker Flats Campground. It is a short jaunt and although there is some incline it is a fairly Easy hike. If you decide to climb down to the actual base of the falls there maybe a little scrambling to be had. If it appears too tough look around there might be a little easier route than the one that you chose.

On this day I combined this hike with that of nearby Stoddard Peak. In my opinion, both hikes are a little short, but combining the two made for a perfect outing. If you are hiking the aggressive trek to the Mount Baldy then you may need to soak your feet at the falls.

Waterfalls are in beauty in motion and need to be viewed that way. Pursuing Balance Through Adventure YouTube Channel.
Life is like a waterfall – always moving.

Thanks for joining me ‘Pursing Balance Through Adventure’ while chasing waterfalls near Mount Baldy. What better place to find that balance between the craziness of the real world filled sometimes with turmoil, strife, and struggle, but always busy- sometimes to the point of chaotic, sometimes life is dull and mundane- explore the other side of the pendulum… go kayaking, surfing, mountain biking, skiing snowboarding, sailing, hiking, backpacking, or in this case just sit quietly with nature next to a waterfall. The sound, the earthy smells, the lite spray on your face, the water tumbling and cascading down to the cool pool below. To continue this journey of balance through profound adventures in nature: LIKE, COMMENT, FOLLOW and SHARE. Look the part as your wander through nature with PBTA Adventure Wear. It is top quality and carries the mantra. Look for it at SHOP APPAREL. For ideas of adventure go to the menu above. Each location is a separate website and thus needs to be FOLLOWED independently.

Happy Trails-

Roger Jenkins

Pursuing Balance Through Adventure

Stoddard Peak

ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST

Activity: Day Hike, Peak Bagging

6 miles, 4590’ elevation, 1145’ elevation gain, >4 hours duration, rated Moderate

Date: 3-2-21

A fun hike in the Angeles National Forest in the Mount Baldy area is Stoddard Peak. Early on the mostly double track trail passes some cabins on private property, but it fine to travel through on foot.

The best thing about this hike is marveling at all the beautiful mountains that surround you. The first portion of the hike is cool and shady through an oak grove as well as some evergreen trees along the journey. From there it opens up to magnificent green mountains. The hike transitions at the crossroads. Pay attention so as not to miss the entrance into the bush. It is here that the trek goes from an easy moderate incline along a double track trail to a steep single track path. The route is challenging with loose dirt and rocks in some spots and hard pack with slick gritty sand in areas, so watch the footing. Turning an ankle or taking a spill is a quick way to ruin an otherwise excellent day. Once the ridge line is made nature takes center stage with the fabulous mountain vistas. There are two false summits, but stay the course. Once atop Stoddard Peak the views are even more amazing to include Mount Baldy and Sunset Peak, which I have climbed previously.

Pursuing Balance Through Adventure YouTube Channel
Inhale peace, exhale stress, inhale calm, exhale worry, repeat.” – Cassy Arch

I hope you enjoyed this journey to Stoddard Peak in the Angeles National Forest while ‘Pursing Balance Through Adventure’. The idea of PBTA is to help you find yourself during a journey of self discovery, to gain a feeling of peace and contentment, through the immersion of bold experiences in nature. (Wow, that is a mouthful. It might take reading that a couple times to digest.) To find that sweet spot between the routine of responsibility and wild abandonment. In order to start down this path please LIKE, COMMENT, FOLLOW and SHARE. If you explore the menu above you will discover many places that PBTA travels to and while they are not Nirvana: a state of perfect happiness, an idyllic place, they certainly are pretty close to the mid point we are seeking between that and the drab monotony of our every day routine in this fast paced, crazy mixed up world. If we are to indeed find that midpoint to Nirvana then we will need a hat and shirt proudly displaying our mantra. You can find that at SHOP APPAREL.

Happy Trails,

Roger Jenkins

Pursuing Balance Through Adventure

Bighorn Peak

CUCAMONGA WILDERNESS

ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST

Activity: Snow Hiking, Snow Peak Bagging 

12 miles, 8441’ elevation, 3619’ elevation change, 10 hour duration, Rated HARD 

Date: 2-17-21

This is the hardest hike I have ever done. Well, except Mt Langley, a 14’er, as that was a killer and the altitude wiped me out.  The hike to Bighorn Peak is serious in the winter. I took on this challenge with trepidation. I really didn’t want to do this alone especially because of the snow and ice, but then again I got to go at my own pace and to really absorb nature.  The snow trek to Bighorn Peak is long, it is hard, it’s got altitude, it has elevation gain and did I mention snow and ice?  There are steep slopes that make having micro spikes a must. I have new really nice winter hiking boots, and micro spikes and they were essential.

My plan was to go to the first of the two peaks, Bighorn Peak and see how that went. If I felt good then back track and head for the second higher Ontario Peak. Without snow and ice this could be an 8 hour trek. I was soon to discover that hiking in snow is much more difficult and time consuming then I even allowed for especially on a steep incline when you want to be sure of each and every step. So needless to say, one was more than enough.

Sporadic snow and ice on Icehouse Canyon Trail going up, (Ice on Icehouse, go figure…), but nothing that good boots and trekking poles couldn’t handle, that being said use caution. The two times the trail seemed sketchy is because it was, in-fact I got off trail. Checked GPS and back in line.  I zigged when I should have zagged on a couple of the switch backs.  

This would be a tough, long, arduous exploration.  I had only enough experience hiking on steep snowy mountainsides to know that I should indeed embrace that feeling of caution. My first such outing was with my friend Dexter on Blue Ridge Trail near Wrightwood.  We did not have micro spikes or snow shoes, but just tromped a foothold in the snow on an exposed mountainside.  That hike would have been simple in the summer, but not covered in snow where at times we sunk up to our knees.   

I was in the wilderness trudging through the snow to a peak that not many people get to this time of year.  How do I know?  I did see a few folks on the Icehouse Canyon Trail leading to the Icehouse Saddle, not many however, although true enough it was midweek. From Icehouse Saddle the trails could go in 5 different directions as far as hikes. I did not see anyone going up to Bighorn and Ontario Peaks, which was all snow. The prints in the snow heading up past the saddle were very few.

There is a portion of the hike once I made the ridge where I was traipsing along a knife’s edge, with a dangerous and deadly drop, plus the wind was blowing in the direction of the cliff, which kept me on guard.

It was slow going in the snow and the steep, making my journey much more difficult than anticipated.  I was glad to have my new waterproof insulated hiking boots and micro spikes, which definitely was the only way this could have been done.  A large portion of the trek is on a very steep embankment, the kind that you just keep sliding.  I learned some things about hiking in snow and I happily impart that new found knowledge in a post on ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’ Hiking and Backpacking 101, “Hiking in Snow.”

From the ridge to the summit provided amazing views of Ontario and Cucamonga Peaks, (both are on my list to climb), that is once the clouds parted. There were sweeping vistas to delight in the opposite direction as well. Snow capped Mount San Antonio aka “Mt Baldy” glistened in the sunshine, the Three T’s: Thunder Mountain Telegraph Peak, and Timber Mountain, (I have already summited Timber Mt), standing like silent sentries to the right are also on my To Do list.

After the ceremonious Selfie Summit Shot, and a quick snack I headed down. Some people think that going down is the hardest part. Since the cardio portion is eased dramatically I am not one of those people, unless… there is snow. Going down is just as hard, and just as slow because of the tromping in the snow, and when you add the slippery slope and having to be sure of your footing it is more difficult. Then throw into the mix that the afternoon sun now was softening the hard pack snow. I was now stepping through my earlier frozen boot prints and instead of being on top of the snow I was now deep in the snow sometimes to my knees and in some snow drifts even higher. The snow hiding the trail, made it tricky to find the way. I got off trail more than once and that usually meant deeper snow. It was all part of the adventure, but made for a more extended day then I had intended. I was spending more time which also meant that I was expending more energy.

I started rationing my water, so I was probably somewhat dehydrated, add new boots, and overexertion and this all led to feet cramps afterwards in the middle of the night. So a word of caution bring a few extra hours of water with you on a snow hike, and plan on it being way longer than you expect. But have fun and enjoy the journey because this is what ‘Pursing Balance Through Adventure’ is about.

“When you see someone putting on his Big Boots, you can be pretty sure that an Adventure is going to happen.”
-A.A. Milnie

Thanks for joining me trudging through the snow up to the Bighorn Peak while ‘Pursing Balance Through Adventure’. Wow, that was a good one, mostly because it was a challenge, it was something new, and it was exciting- said another way it was ‘Pursing Balance Through Adventure’. I hope that you can get inspired to push your envelop a little bit. Speaking of inspiration there are lots of great places to go find yourself. If you look at the menu above you will see the many places that PBTA travels to throughout the West. Each location is a separate website and thus needs to be FOLLOWED independently. Speaking of following that is a great segue into please FOLLOW, COMMENT, LIKE and SHARE in order for us to have more bold experiences in nature together in the future. Please stop by SHOP APPAREL to support this site and more importantly find some great Adventure Gear.

Happy Trails-

Roger Jenkins

Pursuing Balance Through Adventure

Tenaja Falls

San Mateo Canyon Wilderness

Cleveland National Forest

Near Murrieta, CA

Activity: Day Hike, Chasing Waterfalls

1.5 miles, 311’ elevation change, rated Easy

Date: 2-2-21

Last 2.5 miles of the drive, known as Cleveland in National Forest Road, is on single lane very windy road with pot holes. When you do meet a truck going the opposite way you have to back down to a spot wide enough, not only is there no shoulders, but there are drop offs. 

As you start out there are trails scampering all about, so it helps to have GPS to stay on track, however I would think all of these little paths are going to the same place, but just in case. Also hiking boots would be a essential footware despite this is an Easy hike as the trail is rocky.

As you make your way towards the falls off in the distance you will spy Tenaja Falls twinkling in the sunshine like a ribbon of light as it tumbles down the rock face. That view from a distance shows a good amount of the falls, but the falls twists such that you can’t see all 150’ of it. Even when you hike up to the top you can only see a section of it. 

I decided to add a little more adventure into my outing, because I really wanted to see ALL of the falls. The only way to do that is by performing some rather daring rock scrambling down the side. This brings this trek to a whole new level and it goes from Easy to Hard. If you really want to see the falls that is the only way, but it is not for the faint of heart.  Some of the rock is so smooth that it is slippery, sometimes you may have to go up to go down, trying a different route. But if you are careful, take your time and search around it can be done and you will see the several different levels of this falls. 

This falls is a seasonal waterfall meaning in the summer or fall it may just be a tiny trickle.  The best time to see it would be in the Spring and even then right after a rainfall.  I have seen pictures of the fall where it looked all but dry, and conversely I have seen it flowing much harder than what I experienced just after some winter rain.  So keep in mind this is not the Pacific Northwest this is the dry desert of Southern California when you view this falls.  

I decided to continue being adventurous and instead of climbing back up the waterfall I started bushwhacking off trail down the creek. While bushwhacking down stream sometimes I was hopping from rock to rock in the brook, other times it was dry creek bed and I was maneuvering my way through the rocks. When I wasn’t in the creek bed I found myself traipsing along a bushy over grown trail of some type. My trip took 2.5 hours including enjoying falls, since I added an extra mile by including the bouldering down the waterfall and bushwhacking down the creek. 

Tenaja Falls twinkling in the sunshine like a ribbon of light as it tumbles down the rock face.

Be sure to checkout the YouTube clip, water always looks better when it moves. Pretty much like Robert Redford as the Sundance Kid when he misses the target just standing there, but when he suggests drawing his trusty six-gun and moving he puts on quite a show.
“Grace be a waterfall in the wild of my mind.” – Morgan Harper Nichols

Chasing Waterfalls is a favorite passion when ‘Pursing Balance Through Adventure’. What better place to relax, reload, renew, or reinvent then sitting quietly, listening to water trickling down a smooth rock face, spellbound by how the sun is gleaming off the tranquil collecting pool. That being said, PBTA is about bold experiences in nature, so that is where the rock scrambling came in to explore the full 150’ of Tenaja Falls which otherwise couldn’t really be fully appreciated. There is more pursuing to be had so be sure to LIKE, COMMENT, FOLLOW and SHARE. Get a PBTA shirt or hat such as those pictured at SHOP APPAREL, which not only looks great and helps get the word out, but helps support this site. Speaking of which, if you look at the menu above there are many sites to explore each location is a separate website and thus needs to be FOLLOWED independently.

Happy Trails,

Roger Jenkins

Pursuing Balance Through Adventure

San Mateo Peak

THE HARD WAY…

SAN MATEO CANYON WILDERNESS

Activity: Hiking, Peak Bagging

9.5 miles, approximately 1,750’ elevation gain, 6 hour duration, rated Hard

After almost a mile through a lovely oak grove and among boulders, I began a trek through heavy brush. After awhile I decided to check my GPS. I hadn’t before as it seemed like a nice trail and it was no problem following it- only to discover to my dismay that I was way off course and on a totally different trail! Rather than double back. I decided to go from the planned medium length difficult hike graduating to a very long difficult hike. 

The red line on the trail map was my expected route. The Blue dot is where I was when I discovered that things had gone awry. Instead of bailing, or retracing my steps and starting over I hung the first left and made a loop of it heading towards where you see the compass in the upper right hand corner.

At the top of the map of my newly planned loop- I had been hiking 2.5 hours mostly descending in altitude, so now it is going to be a long arduous climb to San Mateo Peak, and on a trail that is now more like animal path. 

Turns out my mistake was that there was a obscured trail that fed into the track near the registration box. It came in at an angle such that it wasn’t easy to see and there wasn’t any marker to identify it. So I didn’t check my GPS until way down the trail, since it seemed pretty straightforward. Obviously not.  It’s all good- as I enjoyed my 2.5 times more hike.  I got to see a lot more country, and got a lot more exercise. My travels took me on a journey through more varied terrain, and thus I experienced a lot more adventure, and a lot more balance was being pursued, lol.

It is a great area, the San Mateo Canyon Wilderness. I love the oak grove section, and the sprinkled boulders throughout the hilly chaparral covered countryside is amazing. When I was on top of the peak I took a moment to admire the views that spilled out before me. But only a moment mind you, as the winds were howling at about Gale Force with the possibility of Hurricane Force gusts. Checkout my video. On top of that there was a rain storm coming in faster than expected so taking a longer than anticipated hike meant that I really needed to hoof it back to my car.

It’s just all in a days work for an Adventure Blogger when you find yourself ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’.

“Sometimes you find adventure, and sometimes adventure finds you!” – Roger Jenkins, Pursuing Balance Through Adventure YouTube Channel
There were a few of these dinosaur markers. I am sure this makes it fun for any kids on this hike.
If you’re not lost, you’re not much of an explorer.

‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’ what a lovely phrase… My gosh be sure to LIKE, COMMENT, FOLLOW and SHARE. That is the life blood of a blogger and there are so many more adventures to come. PBTA Inland Empire Hiking is but one of my blogs if you go to the menu you will see there are many places from which to choose your own adventure. Each location is a separate website and thus needs to be FOLLOWED independently. Come on outside, get your boots a little dirty! If you like my shirt then please go to SHOP APPAREL my adventure wear is not only top quality, but it carries the mantra to bring everything into balance, so spread the word from the mountain tops, to the deep canyons.

Happy Trails-

Roger Jenkins

Pursuing Balance Through Adventure

Icehouse Canyon to Timber Mt

SAN GABRIEL MOUNTAINS

SAN BERNADINO MOUNTAINS

ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST

CUCAMONGA WILDERNESS

Activity: Day Hike, Peak Bagging

9.5 miles, elevation change 3336’, 7 hour duration, rated Hard

Date: 11-18-20

This is a special area and a special hike. Things you need to know to start with is that you will need to come early. Although the parking area is a good size it will fill up on the weekends, as the Icehouse Canyon Trail is a starting point for numerous hikes. You will need an Adventure Pass for parking. A Wilderness Permit is required and you can get the permit right at the trailhead.

The adventure begins with a mild walk through a shady canyon, the sound of the babbling brook sets the mind at ease. The area is filled with a mixture of oak, conifer, and deciduous trees. As I ambled along the easy path there were a couple cabins and ruins of others lost to either fire or flood in years gone by. The chilly air was fragrant with the scent of fallen decaying leaves that carpeted the forest floor. The surrounding ridge was alight with a golden glow as the morning sun has just reached it upon rising over the mountain. After a couple miles the trek picks up the pace from mild to difficult through switchback trail the remainder of the hike to Icehouse Saddle.

I have a post on my blog ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’ Hiking and Backpacking 101 regarding Layering Your Clothing. This outing was an excellent example. My early hike began in cold temperatures, but by the time I headed up the steep switchbacks I was stripping off outer layers, but as I got higher I was more exposed to the high winds and I needed to layer up once again.

In late November there were portions of the trail covered in snow and ice. Not quite enough to need micro spikes as trekking poles and a little careful footwork would allow you to traverse these spots. If however you were going on to Ontario Peak or Cucamonga Peak, which would take you to more shaded parts of the mountains, they were still covered with snow from an earlier storm.

I had planned to just hike to the Icehouse Saddle, however once there I decided that there wasn’t much of a view at this wide spot that was heavily forested with fir, and I wasn’t quite ready for my adventure to come to an end. The Saddle is where five trails come together and I decided forge on to Timber Mountain.

As I approached the summit of Timber Mountain I had a wonderful panorama of the mountains to including Mt Baldy. I also enjoyed splendid views of the canyon as the wind whipped up through them chapping my lips. A magnificent area and a great hike to be sure. I will be back for some of the other hikes in this area.

When I saw the mountains the weight lifted and my restless spirt calmed… I knew I was where I belong.”

What a day! It pretty much checked all the boxes as far as ‘Pursing Balance Through Adventure’. The fresh mountain air, stretching the legs, getting the heart pumping, gaining altitude attitude, getting away from it all, natural scenic beauty and panoramic views, the adventure of a hard hike, add a little snow and ice for a little extra something, solo time to reflect, soul soaring to be sure. I certainly feel a little more balance seep into my life after such an outing in nature, but it is not about the destination. It’s not about bagging that Peak and standing atop that summit posing with that sign, but the trek up and down that mountain, and to looking forward to that next adventure. Speaking of next adventure- stick with me there is more to come because it’s what? A journey, a pursuit for additional chances to balance that ledger of the everyday hetic, chaotic, sometimes mundane, work-a-day life with bold experiences in the great outdoors. Stick with me by doing each and everyone of these things: COMMENT, LIKE, FOLLOW and SHARE. You can join the movement, wave the flag, and carry the banner by adorning yourself in ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’ wear. Just go to SHOP APPAREL where you can find the long sleeve high performance shirt and beanie pictured in my summit shot and oh so much more. If you need ideas or inspiration on your own pursuit then go to the menu above where you will find the spots that PBTA travels to seeking that inner peace and to revel in nature. Each location is a separate website and thus needs to be FOLLOWED independently.

Happy Trails-

Roger Jenkins

Pursuing Balance Through Adventure

Wright Mountain via Acorn Trail

SHEEP MOUNTAIN WILDERNESS

WRIGHTWOOD, CA

Activity: Hiking, Peak Bagging

8.7 miles, altitude 8505′, 2365′ elevation change, 5+ hours duration, rated Hard

Date: 11-06-20

This hike begins at the top of a neighborhood in Wrightwood. There is a small parking area, from there you will walk through a portion of the neighborhood to the trailhead. While hiking on the Acorn Trail you will be trekking along a section of the Pacific Crest Trail.

The hike wanders through a beautiful pine forest decorated with some falls color to complement the evergreens. Wonderful views along the way and near the top. It is a steep trail up to the summit which stands at 8,505 feet above sea level. Near the summit there is no trail either follow your GPS or just head up, up, up through the woods. There is a clearing with an American Flag on a cliff where in the past there was a large landslide. This is not the summit, but has sweet views of nearby mountains and the valley below. The actual summit is the high point of the wooded area. Wright Mountain is a great hike and I highly recommend it.

I met a new Trail Friend and we hiked the mountain together, an Assistant Professor at a nearby Loma Linda University. My understanding of his class is that he teaches Nursing Students compassion, understanding, faith, and caring toward their patients. Very nice guy and an avid hiker and lover of nature. He confided in me while we gazed out over the valley below something very personal to him. He explained that this hike was a celebration, it was exactly 1 year ago on this day that he lost a special person to him, his father-in-law. Here is the crazy part, his father-in-law’s name is the same as mine, Roger, not exactly a common name, now-a-days.

Here is Wright Mt in the distance and the Asst. Professor on the summit of Wright Mt.

A short distance from the summit is a clearing with an American Flag where we met these two old timers, well experience on the mountain. But this guy seated on the old stump spooked me. The stump is sticking out over a cliff with a stiff breeze blowing toward the edge. Some years ago a large expanse of land gave way in a landslide right where he sits.

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Natures peace will blow into you as sunshine flows into the trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away for you like the leaves of Autumn.” – John Muir

Thanks for joining me and my new trail friend the Asst. Prof from Loma Linda Univ. Fantastic day and it was nice to have someone to hike with. It was a windy day that would bring in a storm that night that dumped a several feet of snow where I stand. Please leave a COMMENT, LIKE, SHARE and FOLLOW. I am wearing PBTA wear in the picture, get yours at SHOP APPAREL. The Menu above has inspirational hikes that are categorized by location, each is a separate website and thus needs to be FOLLOWED independently.

Happy Trails-

Roger Jenkins

Pursuing Balance Through Adventure

Sunset Peak Trail

ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST

Activity: Day Hike, Peak Bagging

Distance: 7.5 miles (Added side excursion for a total of 10 miles), elevation change 1,276’ (Side excursion add 200‘ or so?), duration including side excursion: > 5 hours. Rated Moderate (Side excursion and short cut has some steep sections)

Date: 11-5-20

Hiking in the Angeles National Forest is really great. When you are climbing a peak it is so different than life below, as it should be after all, the whole idea is ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’, a temporary reprieve from stress and/or ho-hum. This hike I throughly enjoyed because it was set back in such a way that you did not see civilization until you were pretty much on top. Also it had extraordinary peak-a-boo views, through the firs, of hills, mountains, and ravines, just about every step of the way.

Much of the trail is double track. The first, a fire road, can no longer be used for anything, but hiking. There are multiple trees down across the trail, a couple of rock slides blocking all but a couple feet or so, and brush has grown into the trail way so no vehicle could use this particular trail. Near the top there is single track. There is also a portion were you can take a short cut. I took it on the way down, but it might have been better to take it up, as it is steep with loose dirt.

Once on top the views are simply exquisite. Laid out in front of you is a magnificent range that includes Mt Baldy and several others peaks, you have views of the Inland Empire and mountain ranges beyond, also a nice view of downtown LA.

After summiting the peak, I decided to add on to my hike, so I went on a trail that moved towards a ridge line, leading to some radio towers in the distance. I turned on a ridge that descended down to the right. This was a single track path that moved through some brush and then down some steep sections with loose dirt. This had some great views of the Sunset Peak just summited. It finally drops down on to a fire road and then later reconnects with the trail that was the planned mapped hike. 

This hike has incredible views. As I mentioned, what I appreciated the most is until you get to the top you do not see any suburbia, only mountains and beautiful nature.

Thanks for climbing Sunset Peak with me, now go out and find an adventure that can stir your soul, while you stretch your legs, feel the wind on your face, and drink in all that nature has bestowed upon us… or heck you certainly can continue to tag along with me as I am ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’, – I’m good with that, but to do so you will need to FOLLOW, SHARE, COMMENT, and LIKE. If however, you are excited about finding an adventure there are plenty to inspire you just go to the menu above. Each of the locations is a separate website and thus needs to be FOLLOWED Independently. Yes, that is a new PBTA cap atop my noggin. It’s one of the New Arrivals. You can buy one at SHOP APPAREL Where there is currently a SPECIAL DEAL going on. 

Happy Trails-

Roger Jenkins

Pursuing Balance Through Adventure

Peak Bagging Soda Mountain

MOHAVE DESERT

Activity: Peak Bagging, Trail Blazing, Scrambling, Camping

Distance: Approximately 8 miles, altitude 3661’, prominence 1,781’, 2,168’ elevation gain, duration 7 hours, rated Hard

Date: March 4-5, 2020

While not particularly high in elevation at 3,661 feet above sea level it is all about the prominence with Peak Baggers. That is why the few, the adventurous, the Peak Baggers are interested in this location. Otherwise it is a lonely, desolate, rugged place and there is nothing particularly fun about the trek, and there is no reason anyone would climb Soda Mountain other than because it is there, and the ‘Prom Factor’.

Prominence

  1. A position of exalted widely recognized grandeur.
  2. A natural land elevation that stands out above it’s surroundings.
  3. The vertical distance from which the summit rises above the lowest point between two summits.

In many ways prominence, as an alternate measurement of a peak or mountain, is more interesting than it’s elevation.

I joined Hall of Fame Peak Bagger Keith Christensen once again seeking some life balance in this otherwise crazy mixed up world, in other words we found ourselves ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’ in the Mohave Desert. This was day two of our excursion and I invite you to checkout day one: Cave Mountain. After completing our quest to stand atop Cave Mountain we headed toward Soda Mountains. It required some 4 wheeling to get to the wash that would serve as the closest thing to a trailhead. Hint there is no trailhead in the middle of the frick’n desert when you are hiking an area no one would go to, to climb a craggy, jagged, rocky mountain that no one would climb… no one except a Peak Bagger. I will tell you what, on these desolate desert peaks there are only a few peak baggers there a year. So when you stand on top of Soda Mountain, you are one of a small number that has ever set foot there, which of course is part of the allure. Peak Baggers aren’t here to recreate they are here for the hard-core.

After a backpacking dinner, we enjoyed the twilight and the silhouette of the mountains against the ever darkening desert sky, and then called it a night to get an early start in the morning.

It was a cool morning, but with the rising sun it was quickly warming up. We headed out along about 3 miles of sandy wash and canyon area that had many twists and turns to it such that we really did not get a look at our objective until we were right before it.

Hiking through a wash toward our destination Soda Mt High Point.

Now we would be picking a route, looking for a way up, ascending the steep incline of broken rock. During the climb my foot became trapped between a proverbial, and I assure you quite literal, rock and a hard place. It was only all those workouts I have been doing that kept me from a full face plant as I caught myself in a push up position with my nose to the grind stone.

In a section where we were doing a bit of scrambling Keith surprised a large lizard about the size of a chipmunk, which is exactly what I though it was at first. The fleeing reptile was headed right at my face until he saw me and ducked into the rocks. We think it was a Chuckwalla, but there are Gila Monsters in the Mohave as well.

Photo of Chuckwalla credit to NPS.

Hands worked, bloody shin, tired feet and all I arrived at the summit with a smile. While I surveyed the desert scene from aloft Keith checked out the register in an old can to see how many names he might recognize.

Summit of Soda Mt.

The view from the summit was quite amazing with a pretty diverse landscape. On one side was canyon with pale colors, in another direction black mountains rising out of golden sand, and yet another mocha chocolate hills. After a snack, a drink, and a little reflection it was time to head down.

As I carefully picked my way down the rocky slope I became separated from Keith who with a quicker pace had dropped down out of sight, and had taken a right under a large rock outcropping. Not seeing this I continued down the chute. I whistled to find his location, but heard no response. I was thinking he can’t be that far ahead, but he had wrapped around more to the right as I was still going down the chute. After signaling every so often I finally hear a hoot and after awhile we reconnect. He had not heard my previous whistles. There was a point that I thought I would be hiking back to Keith’s Jeep alone.

Another successful summit by the intrepid explorer Peak Bagger Keith Christensen as he heads down with the desert wash below.

One side note that I will mention about this outing was that it took place just before that Covid-19 Pandemic Crisis. After 2 or 3 months had gone by I went to Keith Christensen’s Peak Bagger Page to see if he had continued to bag peaks since I had last seen him. While I had continued to go on hikes and even a little peak bagging I saw that Keith had not slowed down one iota. During this time frame he had bagged almost 60 more peaks. That is simply amazing.

“The road less traveled is the road to adventure!”

This type of an adventure is pretty amazing and rather unique. Not your everyday trek, which makes it pretty cool, and hiking with my Hobie Cat Champion sailing friend, Keith Christensen, who just happens to take part in this craziness of Peak Bagging, and at a very high level I might add, is always an adventure! Thanks for joining us ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’ while peak bagging hidden away desert mountains. Take a moment and LIKE, COMMENT, FOLLOW, and SHARE. You may or may not be excited about Peak Bagging in the middle of the frick’n desert, but I am positive you can find a hike that will get you off the couch with all of the locales that PBTA ventures to- just review the menu above. Each location is a separate website and thus needs to be FOLLOWED independently. Checkout my cap in the picture. Like it? Want one? Click here: SHOP APPAREL.

Happy Trails, (Well in this case there was no trail, but you catch my drift…)

Roger Jenkins

Pursuing Balance Through Adventure

Pursuing Balance Thru Adventure

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