Mt. Baldy, CA is full of surprises
Are you the friend who is always worried about potential dangers that are very unlikely to occur, and usually a waste of energy to even consider, but you worry anyway? You know like when you're camping and you're laying in your tent tossing and turning because, despite having slept outdoors many times, you can't help picturing the tall, thick trees falling on top of you, or the bear ripping through the tent and mauling your face off, or the fear that you're actually never going to fall asleep and you're going to be dead-tired for all the fun activities you're supposed to do the next day...No? Just me?
Ok, well what if I told you that this past weekend those fears actually came true for me? Ok, so no, a tree didn't fall on me. And, no, I didn't get mauled by a bear. BUT YES we did have a bear encounter and it was friggin' scary. At about 3 in the good ole' morning a couple of my friends heard and then saw a black bear near the trash cans right outside our tents. Slight panic and confusion ensued as some of us, ehem me ehem, weren't entirely sure what was going on as I somehow did not hear the bear (this might've been due to being woken up during the only few minutes of sleep I actually got). In hindsight, our hilarious miscommunications between tents and the immense difficulty to get out of my tent thats zipper seemed to have momentarily disappeared...felt like an eternity but was really only a minute or two. In the end, Traci set off her car alarm and scared the bear who fled to another part of the campsite. We all piled in the car and, with our adrenaline pumping and feeling much more safe in a metal car, we decided to circle the campground to find the bear.
It is not fun when one of my fears comes true, but it was pretty incredible to see a black bear in person.
At this point, you might be wondering to yourself, did you get any pictures of the bear?? Answer: I did not. However, my friend, Eleanor managed to get just one drive-by shot of the bear who had climbed up into a tree (pictured below). When we found the bear, there was already an obnoxious photographer out there harassing this poor bear and probably blinding it with flash after flash. His proximity to the bear was dangerously close and his behavior would definitely be frowned upon by the authorities. I'm told that black bears don't tend to be aggressive towards humans, but this human was giving it a real reason to be. We did not, however, witness any retaliation from the bear,
Other than the bear fiasco, Mt. Baldy was a ton of safe fun. Except for when I got my backpack stuck in the chairlift (thank you chairlift worker for rescuing it). Thankfully, no humans or backpacks were injured. That chair lift is pretty old and rickety, but boy did we have a great view of the sunset on our way back down from Top of the Notch's Battle of the Brews–ya it's a restaurant and bar at the top of the mountain. They were having a competition in which you received a free sampling of beers and you rated which ones were your fave and then got a free pint of your favorite one. I'm not a beer drinker, but I'm told they had a very good selection!
Mt. Baldy is also home to a secret swimming hole with freezing fresh water that was perfect for the seriously hot October day we had. The water is lined with a wild blackberry bush which we picked and ate from. (Though I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little worried that a black bear was hiding somewhere nearby cuz those berries were delish).
Our last stop on this weekend adventure was also a surprise: the Mt. Baldy visitor center! We walked by it and were intrigued by the interesting fixtures and displays. We went in and found that it is packed with cool educational set ups like how the Tongva tribe used to live, what gold mining was like and an adorable greenhouse.
I didn't get much sleep this weekend, but I did have way too many laughs with these hilarious and wonderful women on this whirlwind of a mountain adventure.