Let's see here. A huge avalanche took out parts of the trail in February this year, causing the USFS to create new routes around the mess. 5/8ths approx of the hike was just normal moderately steep trail hiking. But the last 700 to 1000ft of the hike is still layered in mixed wet and icy snow. Lots of fairly steep cornices on the final approach up the ridge have to be hiked to reach the top. Snowshoes with good crampons and a heel bar, or regular boot crampons were highly recommended if you wanted the freedom to step without having to be sluggish and obnoxiously careful. On the way down I took an ill-advised route to give me a nice short-cut that ended up in me running into a steep snowfield that looked 50+ percent in grade. Without a partner or rope...my option was to climb back up 500ft, or use stop and go self-arrest with my ice axe for a few hundred feet until the field leveled off. I did the ridiculous thing, and purposely self-arrested my way slowly down the field. Other hikers in the area seemed a little confused and slightly alarmed. Then I met a marmot on the way back down a rock field immediately following the the snow field I had SA'd down. He wasn't impressed with how close I was to his little home in the ground, and proceeded to give me the mad dog stare down until I moved around his territory. Considering I was racing against the clock on the hike, and the cloud cover was heavy, I didn't take photos. Sorry peeps. If you climb it in the next couple of weeks until mid-June comes around, be careful hiking it and bring basic mountaineering gear. If you go off the beaten path at all from the top, this hike can be deceptively sketchy in areas. Also you might want to go a little slower then I did to be safe. I went from trail head to peak in 2 hours, and an hour and a half back down...it's about an hour faster in each direction then the average.
Route up: Granite Mountain Trail
Route down: Random, un-traveled self-arrested and mixed glissade short cut to Granite Mountain Trail
Spent most of the hike in clouds and fog until the last 500 ft...where I got above the cloud line and then had the pleasure of eating lunch on the peak above the clouds. Awesome moment.
Route up/down: McClellan Butte Trail
Took a long forest road to the Copper Butte trail...where I and my hiking partner saw a lot of wild flowers and cows, while trying to avoid stepping in cow patties a lot of the time. Yes...it's that kind of country. We later found out that the trail was created by farmers who herd these cows up the trail to large water troughs. Frankly, having to wait for the entire heard to pass before continuing back down was a pain in the tukus. Use a different approach if you ever hike this mountain.
Route up: Forest Trail 250 to Copper Butte Trail
Listened to a lot of Coldplay, completed the 11-mile roundtrip via Ira Spring Trail in 5 hours including breaks and a photo session at Mason Lake. I physically dominated this trail. Wonderful views from the top of Defiance. It's currently my favorite peak from last year.
Route up/down: Ira Spring Trail to Mason Lake to Mt Defiance 1009
Ridiculous amounts of fog and snow above the 4,000ft elevation. Had to really use experienced hiker instincts to find the peak. Very little snow pack from any snowshoeing activity made finding the clear path along the trail difficult. Could not see a thing in the fog, thus making getting to the peak only for the sake of saying I did.
Route up/down: Bessemer Mountain logging road/trail to the top
Physically prevailed over this trail known to others as a fairly tedious one to climb in the local area. The frozen snow patches were a little annoying, considering one slip in certain parts of this trail could certainly lead to severe injury or worse. Otherwise...cool way to get some views of the Inland Empire without spending the extra calories burning up the sides of Mt.San Antonio
Route up/down: Icehouse Canyon
First hike of the 2011 season. Got my ass handed to me on a steep plane. Snow...a lot of it...without snowshoes or crampon. Trail was frozen and packed down so that regular hiking shoes wouldn't stand a chance. Had to improvise much against the advice of warning signs telling you not to...and sloppily made our way up the peak. The hike was already rigorous enough without the deep snow...adding snow stepping without snowshoes made it miserable. But, the reward of snow-capped Cascade made it all worth it...sort of.
Route up/down: Mailbox Peak Trail
Took the absurd Martin Creek trail, all 26 miles round-trip of it...on a 36-hour expedition to the top of So. Cal's highest mountain. The trail made no sense to me at all, as it seemed to wind through endless steep terrain that didn't feature any outstanding natural landmarks or sights to see. Didn't seem like a very useful trail with any purpose other than to make hikers impatient considering the numerous other routes that are more direct ( but steeper ).
Route up/down: Momyer Trail