Distance: 5 Miles | Time: 1.5 Hours | Elevation Gain: 1150 Ft
We arrived at the Potato Mountain trailhead bright and early on a Sunday morning. We had read mixed reviews about cars being required to display an Adventure Pass, but we put ours up just in case. Since it had rained the day before, the weather was a little chilly and the air smelled especially fresh. Thankfully the ground had already dried significantly and was not muddy. Right after passing through the yellow barrier at the trailhead, we noticed a pretty cool phenomenon of what appeared to be steam rising up off the ground and refracting off the morning sun to create some pretty stunning geothermal light effects.
As we hiked along and enjoyed views of the lush valley against a backdrop of the mountains, Hoku suddenly switched over to Shiba hunter mode after a ballsy gray squirrel with a tantalizingly bushy tail charged right at us. Since he kept trying to pull at it and wouldn't listen to our commands to "leave it" alone we made him sit on the side of the trail for a time-out until he calmed down. We've found that even hikes are an opportunity to train and that's his protesty Pouty McPoutser face above. (Dogs...they're just like little kids, am I right?)
As we made the hairpin turn towards Potato Mountain at the trail junction, we started to hear a faint buzzing sound that just kept getting louder and louder. Lo and behold, there were these man made beehives on the side of the trail literally swarming with bees in every direction. On the account of me being terrified of bees and David being deathly allergic, we debated for a minute whether to turn around or to run through the swarm as fast as we could. With the summit just within reach, we decided to go for it. And as we sprinted across, I could feel bees hitting my face and loud buzzing sounds in my ear. Hoku tried to catch a few of them even though he's been stung before, but unfortunately he just never learns. Though fortunately for us, we made it out of the swarm just fine and tried really hard not to think about having to pass it again on the way down!
The steepest incline up to Potato Mountain just ahead with fog rolling into the mountains creating some pretty dramatic views! That's us below looking at the mountains towards Mt Baldy in the far distance.
We eventually made our way above the clouds and fog and into the warm sun. The way the light hit the mountain ridges that morning really reminded us of the Ko'olau mountain range back home in Hawaii.
We made it to the top and had it all to ourselves! Doesn't it look like we could just jump off the side of the mountain and bounce onto those fluffy clouds?
Hoku's like where are the potatoes? Someone told me there would be potatoes up here.
The views of the mountains and Claremont from the top were magnificent. Overall Potato Mountain was a really relaxing, short hike to start off an easy Sunday. With the exception of the killer bees, of course. We passed by a few other groups of hikers and dogs on the way down, but nothing compared to the crowds typically seen on the Claremont Wilderness Loop. Hike #11 in the 52 Hike Challenge, done and done.