Estimated mileage: 11.7
Estimated elevation gain: 4068
Time: Just under 8 hours (With about 1.5 hours of stop time at least, waiting for people to catch up, trying to deal with a snake, and helping the injured hiker)
Trail Conditions: Trailhead to Orchard Camp is very good, Bailey Canyon Connector Trail seemed fairly good (if skinny), Manzanita Ridge portion of the Mt Wilson Trail has some iffier spots, but is still fine overall.
Trail Goodies: Beef jerky, trail mix (cranberries, almonds, golden raisins, sunflower seeds, pepitas), smokehouse almonds, Sunchips
Other Notes: I was really lazy and never took my camera out on this hike, so no pictures! Unless I edit some in from the previous hike
BIA(Breads in Attendance): Raisin Bread, Ciabatta, Banana Nut, Straun, and a member so secret he cannot be named
Straun’s Hike Summary
Straun had been thinking of doing a hike further east, but we didn’t really have the chance to prepare so we set out for Mt Wilson trail again. The trip started out fairly uneventfully, we were going a bit faster than last time. Could definitely tell the 2 weeks had made a difference, a lot more dry plants, still a lot of flowers though! And then as we innocently continued along the trail, Incident #1 happened. Ciabatta’s watermelon container exploded in his backpack. This mandated a quick watermelon eating party!
We didn’t bother stopping at first water this time, it looked crowded and we were on a mission (though we weren’t sure what it was)! A little bit after first water was Incident #2. A Snake came onto the trail after a member so secret he cannot be named passed by. It wasn’t a dangerous snake, but it was recalcitrant and didn’t want to leave the trail. We were trying to be nice and not spook it, but we eventually just had to go around it. Leaving the snake behind we tried to decide on a path. Take Hiker Bob’s Bailey Canyon Connector Trail, or continue on up to Orchard Camp? We stopped and painted a variety of rocks to resemble dice and rolled to decide. The roll came up as a pointy rock and a round rock, that meant Hiker Bob’s Bailey Canyon Connector Trail. Well, really, we just went for the connector because we hadn’t done it before.
This turned out to be a poor choice, though we wouldn’t discover why til we had almost completed that section. As we started up the connector trail we noticed a pack of spiders running away from it, odd, but of no concern. Further up the trail on the very steep, very exposed, switchbacks we were being assaulted by a couple of horseflies. At the time we just thought they were jerks, we came to realize later they (and the spiders from before) were trying to warn us about the real jerk up ahead. Yes, Mr. Jer K. Face the rattlesnake. We came around a bend of switchback into a small grassy area with a single bush right by the trail. As we got closer… yep, we heard the rattle. He was hiding under the bush, we couldn’t see him, and he didn’t want to leave. Note, this would be the first of three rattlesnakes we would encounter. Deciding there was no safe way around the snake, since we couldn’t see him. We headed back down the… very steep… very exposed connector trail. The trail at least seemed to be in pretty good shape considering we didn’t see a single person on it.
Well, that path was vetoed so we revised and decided to head up to Orchard Camp (and on to Manzanita Ridge for a few of us). Nothing especially interesting happened on the way to Orchard Camp, although the large vinca plants shortly before you get there were looking a little water starved when compared to last time. At Orchard Camp we split up, Raisin Bread and Banana Nut decided to stay a bit then head back down the mountain while Ciabatta, Straun, and a member so secret he cannot be named decided to continue on to Manzanita Ridge, and maybe Mt Wilson itself (hahaha). On the way up was rattlesnake encounter #2, it was off the trail to the right somewhere? It was only heard, and not seen, but it hadn’t tried to NOM NOM NOM on the 5 or so people that went past right before us, so we figured we were safe, and indeed we were.
Again, fairly uneventful until we hit Manzanita Ridge. Once again, the bees on the ridge were searching us and our backpacks for nectar and pollen. Either the bees picked an unfortunate place to build a hive, or the person who put the bench up there picked an unfortunate spot for the bench, because it is a constant bee assault zone. Due to the threat of bee sexual harassment we didn’t stay long on the ridge, we encountered a group of about seven hikers coming down from Mt Wilson, this was one of their training hikes for Mt Whitney. They started down a bit before us, but then let us pass them. About a half a mile after that we found a hiker laying on the ground (we had seen her coming down with a friend while we were heading up). She seemed to be okay at first glance, and in fact answered that she was okay and waiting for her friend, followed by about a 15 second pause and the explanation of WHY she was waiting. She broke her ankle! The other group was coming up behind us now and one of them had cell service and called 911. Apparently her friend had managed to get through as they said there was already a helicopter up, but we were able to give them a better description of our location and GPS coords. Not sure if it helped or not but we used a mirror to flash at the helicopter when it got closer. After a bit the sheriff from the helicopter arrived and seeing that the injured hiker was okay, we traveled on, ending major incident #3.
The rest of the way down was pretty quiet except for rattlesnake encounter #3, RIGHT at the start of the trail leading from Orchard Camp to Manzanita Ridge. This one was sleeping, thankfully, because we walked RIGHT next to it. At the end while we were waiting for Raisin Bread and Banana Nut to get back from showering, we saw a hiker come down off the mountain, change clothes, get on a bike and ride away. He came down shortly after we did, and we had seen him heading UP while we were already about a mile down. Kudos to that guy!
Overall, an eventful but very fun hike!
Cinnamon Nut Swirl’s Post-Hike Comments
I opened the door to five, very weary looking hikers. They made their way in and collapsed on varying surfaces in varying positions. Movement didn’t look likely, but eventually, food beckoned them and they headed to an all-you-can-eat buffet.