Our goal was to head up to Highway 2 and park along the road and take a snow chute up to the Little Jimmy Campground and then move onto the summit of Mt. Islip, however when we got to Vincent Gap we found the road closed there despite what the CalTrans website reported on our drive up. It was a semi-overcast morning and there were signs of fresh snow that had dusted the area overnight.
We debated our options now that we were parked at Vincent Gap, where the trailheads to the Big Horn Mine, Miner Vincent’s Cabin, and Mt. Baden-Powell are all located. We decided on the more challenging hike which was up Mt. Baden-Powell. There was ice in the parking lot and snow all around, but we were prepared for this, so we geared up and headed out.
We made our way up the first few switchbacks fairly easily; the snow was not that deep yet and the trail was still easy to follow. It was actually turning out to be a beautiful day with sun peaking though snow covered trees and casting shadows on the snow covered trail.
As we trudged further up the mountain the snow started getting deeper and the trail became less apparent. Eventually we just started cutting upwards through the snow.
Before we got to the beginning of the summit ridge a group of snowboarders and skiers passed us on their way up. I was impressed at how they charged up the mountain but then also realized that they are probably more accustom to the high altitude than our group was.
At the beginning of the summit ridge my hands started getting extra cold, and I debated on turning back. It was cold and windy with small amounts of snow coming down. I was worried that maybe the two pairs of gloves I was wearing just weren’t enough, but the more I kept moving the better my hands felt. In the end I was glad I didn’t turn back, but I couldn’t help but to be cautious.
When we made it to the summit the group of skiers that had passed us earlier were about to head down and we watched them quickly slide away down the mountain. Were we jealous? Yeah, maybe a little.
The views at the top weren’t as impressive as compared to a clear day, but when the clouds would part for a minute we could get a glimpse out towards the Lancaster area, but that was it.
As we made our way off the summit we got a light dusting of snow which was kind of cool now that we were on our way down. We shot straight down the snow which cut a lot of distance off the descent, but even if we wanted to take the trail we couldn’t see half of it. When we got lower down the mountain and the snow was less deep we were able to get back on the trail and follow it out for the last mile or so.
This was my first real winter hike, and by that I mean hiking in real winter conditions which included being snowed on and traversing all through snow. I was glad I had the proper gear for this hike but I don’t think I’ve ever been that cold on a hike before. After the incident with my fingers getting painfully cold I am definitely in the market for some better snow gloves.