L to R: Lorraine, Marisa, Rachael, Kristen, Sue
Rachael at peak
Lorraine & Marisa w/ Mt Baldy sign
The day started out uneventfully enough. We carpooled to Mt. Baldy Visitor Center, picked up a wilderness permit and trail maps and headed up Bear Canyon Trail to the top of Mt. Baldy. Wow, what a tough trail! Probably one of the toughest around. Sue and Kristen both suffered with altitude sickness so it took longer than expected to get to the peak. There was still snow on the trail too so we had to slip-slide across some sections. Fun, fun, fun!
I was greeted at the peak by someone shouting my name - there were two gals I haven't seen in years. Laura and Kat from my Moms' Club days, out on a hiking weekend. Pretty amazing really.
We took Devil's Backbone to Mt. Baldy Notch and the Ski Lodge. Lunch gave us time to regroup and plan the descent. Kristen, still not feeling too good, would take the chairlift and then run down the road back to the Visitor Center. Lorraine, Marisa and I would take 3 Ts trail (Thunder Mtn., Telegraph Peak, Timber Mtn.) to Ice House Saddle, Chapman Trail from Icehouse Saddle to Ice House Canyon Trailhead where Kristen would meet us with the car. Sue wanted to run up Thunder Mountain, back down to the Ski Lodge and then down the fire service road to the Visitor Center.
Good plan, bad execution. Kristen made it no problem. Lorraine, Marisa and I had fun with the climbs and downhills, losing the trail at times because of snow and rock falls but laughing all the way. We made it back to the car 45 minutes later than anticipated. But where was Sue? We drove up and down the mountain looking for her before heading back to the Vistor Center. Still no Sue. Lorraine called it in to SAR. The dispatcher called back to say we were all reported missing. Lorraine convinced the dispatcher only Sue was missing. The dispatcher found Sue waiting for us at a McDonald's on the I-15. Yes, she had made a wrong turn coming down from Thunder Mtn. and ran down the back side of the mountain. Luckily someone found her and took her to safety.
So, what went wrong? We broke one of the most important rules of trail running. We allowed one of the group to run alone. Luckily, this run had a happy ending.
Who called us in as missing? Bruce, Lorraine's husband. He didn't even know I was with the group as I hadn't signed up in advance but I had called my husband collect from the Ski Lodge to let him know we were running late. Didn't think to ask him to let Bruce know how we were doing.
Lessons learned. Never run alone. Always file a flight plan. Always carry SPOT.