Hiking with Dogs: Mt. Baden-Powell, December 13 2015

I’ve been eyeing this mountain for a couple of years now, hoping to hike it when conditions were good for a snow climb. With my upcoming move to New Hampshire, I decided that I should hike it now, then maybe try with snowshoes and crampons later if southern California gets a significant snowfall before I move.

We hiked from Vincent Gap, getting a later start than expected. I woke up late and both navigation apps on my phone gave us bad directions. Since SR 2 shows up as ‘closed during the winter,’ the apps routed us to Forest Service Road 4N56. We had intially hoped to be on the summit for sunrise, but with the late start, we knew this wouldn’t happen. As the sun rose, we got to see Baden-Powell’s shadow:

Mt. Baden-Powell casting a long shadow to the west.

The trail was apparent and easy to follow. Most of the trail was covered with snow and we could see tracks (from when the snow was deeper) where others had gone off trail, skipping the switchbacks. With the cool temperatures, the snow hadn’t yet melted and refroze, so the winter traction we carried wasn’t necessary. It was supposed to hit the 40s later in the day, so I suspect micros or something similar were useful later that week.

As we approached the summit, it got extremely cold & windy. The wind was strong enough to push us off balance and had blown most of the snow off of the summit. After taking photos, we quickly descended to get out of the wind and cold. Once we dropped below 8600,’ we were comfortable and we had a pleasant hike back to the trailhead.


Riley loves to hike and when you add a little snow to the trail, I swear he runs around with a perma-grin on his face. One thing that I don’t enjoy about snowshoeing and winter hiking is that I leave Riley at home most of the time, even if he’s allowed on the trails. It’s been a challenge to find an insulated jacket that works well for him and up until this hike, I didn’t ever think I’d find boots that would stay on his feet.

Riley is a happy dog when there’s snow to play in.

In the past, I’ve used Musher’s Secret to protect his paws, which has worked well, but I have been hoping to find something that will protect his feet a bit more. On this hike we tried Pawz Dog Boots. They are a disposal, reusable and water-proof dog boot made of natural rubber. I was pleasantly surprised to see that they stayed on for the entire hike and are durable enough to use several times. Now that I’ve found boots that will stay on and an insulated jacket that won’t rub him raw, I see lots of snow hikes in Riley’s future.

The mountains are calling and WE must go!

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The cold, windy weather was an excellent opportunity to get out with some of my new gear. I hoped that it would be a good opportunity to test out winter traction devices from Yaktrax(Pro Traction Cleats Run Traction Cleats), ICETrekkers(Diamond Grip Traction Cleats) and Hillsound (Trail Crampon Pro), but we did not need to use them. Here are some notes on the gear that we did use:

  • Black Rock Gear – The Original Down Beanie
    • I was curious to see if I’d be able to wear this down beanie while hiking and not sweat excessively. As we approached the summit, the winds picked up and it got very cold. I wore the beanie for about 1.5 hours and found it to be very comfortable. Without wind, I’m guessing it’s comfortable hiking temperature range will be <20° F for me.
    • After some thought and experimenting on this hike, I think I’ll try carrying the following headwear on my winter hikes: my usual baseball cap, a neck gaiter (see below) or buff, and The Original Down Beanie.
      • Baseball cap – used most of the time, until it’s cold enough that I want to protect my ears from the cold.
      • Will carry my long merino neck gaiter or a buff, depending on how cold it is. Will be used headband to protect my ears down to ~ 20° F. Will be used to protect my face if necessary.
      •  The Original Down Beanie will be worn if I hike in temps below 20° F, around camp, or while I hang out at the summit.
  • Katabatic Gear Helios 55
    • Well designed/thought out pack. I will post a ‘first look’ style blog entry soon.
  • Minus33′s Kodiak Expedition Full Zip Hoody
    • I continue to be impressed with how warm this hoody is. The temp was around 25° F with very high winds and the summit and I was comfortable.
  • Baffin Zone Softshell Boots
    • First time out with these boots. I typically winter hike and snowshoe with my regular hiking boots, but with an upcoming move to NH, I will need insulation boots.
    • Initial thoughts:
      • No break-in period needed, very comfortable.
      • Rated for -4°F to 50°F. With mountaineering socks, I wouldn’t wear them if the temperature was warmer that 35° or so.
  • Woolx Merino Wool Hat and Long Neck Gaiter
    • Since I was testing a different hat, one of my hiking partners testing these out. It was his first experience with merino wool and he was impressed with it’s softness and lack of itchiness.
  • Darn Tough Mountaineering Sock
  • Hillsound Armadillo LT Gaiter
    • Breathe much better than my OR Verglas Gaiters
    • Sizing seems to be a little on the small side, so you if you have large calves, plan on wearing them with insulated pants or are in-between sizes, I would recommend sizing up.

4 Responses

  1. boothv

    Good write up. I’ve done this trail countess times, and camp up there a lot, and it’s always a gas. When the 2 opens I would highly suggest doing the Dawson Saddle Trail to the PCT route. Much prettier in my opinion and far less popular.

    And just to toss this out there, and you’re free to tell me to F off, but you might want to be careful with dog booties. If a trail is icy they offer zero grip. I actually helped a woman rescue her dog when he went over the side of the PCT and couldn’t get back up. If there’s some snow depth it’s not an issue but when ice is present…

    (Darn Tough. Best. Socks. Ever). 🙂