Monday, January 24, 2011
Mt. Baldy: A Perfect, Snowy Day Trip ... With a Little Ski Lift Terror on the Side
While most Angelenos were basking in the gorgeous January sun yesterday, we were more than 5,000 feet above sea level at Mt. Baldy getting our hands cold and wet with white mountain snow.
That had not been the original plan, though.
In fact, I was emotionally unprepared at the outset to board any kind of ski lift, terrified of dangling what seemed like thousands of feet above a deathly rocky bottom. But when my 4-year-old daughter shouted "Let's go!" how could I say no? Plus, Ian was there to hold CC securely in his lap. (That left me free to clutch the main bar with ghostly white knuckles.)
The original plan had been to drive up the Angeles Crest Highway to a national park where we could build "snowgirls," as CC said, and sled down mini hills. But because the Highway has been closed for more than a year due to the Station Fire (for some reason, I thought parts of it had opened), I had to think of a Plan B -- a Plan B that involved snow, because that's what I had promised CC.
Enter Mt. Baldy, which is an easy 2-hour drive east of Los Angeles.
Once we drove to the mountain parking lot, past the small village on the way, we all spilled out to play in what little snow there was at the base.
But the real white stuff was at the very top of the mountain -- and you can only get there by ski lift (while we were there: $20 round trip per adult; $10 per child; children under 5 are free).
That's when the nail-biting started.
I wanted to show my child her first real snow (CC has seen snow, but it wasn't the authentic experience I wanted to give her). But was I willing to risk my life -- and hers? Ian, for the record, was totally fine with the ski lift and had lots of fun at my expense, mentioning things like fraying cables and dangling skiers.
After much pacing, teeth-grinding and lip-biting, I decided to make the trip -- 15 of the longest minutes of my life.
Here's the photo I snapped at the beginning of the lift before terror set in:
What was funny to me was how calm and happy CC was while riding on such a terrifying contraption. She even starting singing, "If You're Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands."
I was neither happy, nor did I want to risk clapping my hands.
Especially when Ian started riffing on the song, with something along the lines of, "If You're Dangling From the Ski Lift, Clap Your Hands." (Notice the irony.)
Eventually, we made it to the top -- thank God! -- and headed into the Lodge for hot chocolate. It was so cold up there!
After a short break (which helped me renew my mental energy), we joined the skiers and snowboarders outside in the snow.
CC was thrilled! She demonstrated that by making a mad dash across the snow, trying to ditch her parents in the process. She grabbed up the icy white gobs with her little fingers and dove onto the ground to make a snow angel.
We wanted to go tubing with her, but it was already late afternoon and they were about to close that area.
While we didn't get the chance to go skiing, snowboarding or tubing -- it was kind of impromptu just to get up to the top -- it was wonderful to see the beauty of the mountains from such a gorgeous vista.
We promised CC that we'll return -- and that next time we'll go tubing.
You'll notice there aren't any pictures of me here, but as Ian pointed out, I looked too stressed out the entire time I was up there.
Probably because I had this to look forward to on the way down: Eek!
Believe it or not, the way down was much easier. I don't know why. Maybe it had something to do with CC chirping, laughing and spelling. Yes, spelling.
She's been on a spelling kick lately, mostly proud of the fact that she stumbled onto P-O-O. (She gets a laugh out of that one every once in a while.)
But this time, while I felt as if I was looking at certain death, she asked, "What does this spell? G-O-G-O-D?"
"Go God!" I exclaimed.
Yes! Little did she know, but my 4-year-old child was spelling out a little prayer for her petrified mother.
When it comes to ski lifts, I'll take what I can get.
Mt. Baldy Ski Resort
6700 Mt. Baldy Rd.
Mt. Baldy, CA 91759
Click here for directions.