Icehouse Canyon to Cucamonga Peak II

By Heather

Darren and I had Veterans Day off and no plans to do anything, so I decided to head for the hills once more to Cucamonga Peak. Given how busy the trail can be and the timing of the holiday this year and the decent weather, it seemed like a good time go again.

icehouse canyon cucamonga peak

The icehouses blend in so well with the scenery that I noticed a few more this time that I had missed the first. This one is fairly early on.

ducks cucamonga peak

There’s a brief stretch where you lose the trail, and these ducks will save you. I had a hard time spotting them the first time doing this hike, but this time I noticed them all over. They were SO helpful.

Apparently, they’re also controversial. Some people think they violate the “leave no trace” ethos, which…okay? I guess. But it’s rocks stacked up. It’s not vandalism, isn’t not human waste or garbage, and it isn’t taking anything. These people also seem to think that they should be knocked over at any opportunity. No one seems to be bothered by the signage throughout the trail, though…

Anyway. As someone who gets lost really easily, you’d be sending me to a certain death if you knocked them over. Hope you can live with blood on your hands!

cucamonga peak trail

Follow this trail from Icehouse Saddle. The best part about the saddle is that you’re well past halfway there – you just hiked 3.7 miles, only another 2.4 to go!

view cucamonga peak trail

About 20 minutes after leaving the saddle, I noticed the clouds. Holy crap!

cucamonga peak sign

If you read the last post about Cucamonga Peak, you might recall the handmade sign that gave me pause. Now I have proof of how sketchy it looked. Would you trust this thing? It looks like instead of the peak, there’s a guy with a chainsaw waiting for you at the end.

This is the last .2 miles, and then you’re there.

cucamonga peak clouds

Would you look at that? Incredible. The only other time I’ve seen a view like that is from an airplane.

There were a few patches of ice around close to the summit. By the next time I’ll be free to go, it’ll be too cold and icy. It was already chilly at the very top – in the high 40s and windy.

At the summit, I attempted a few unimpressive selfies with a small tripod, had a snack, then went home to another planet.

cucamonga peak

A Change of Plans

mount whitney

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Geographer

By Heather

“So, when are we doing Whitney?”

“I was thinking 2016.”

“Twenty sixteen? Why not twenty fifteen?”

I couldn’t think of a good reason. It just seemed logical…Half Dome in 2015. Whitney in 2016. I don’t know, Kilimanjaro in 2017?

I’m spacing out big adventures…why, exactly? Someday isn’t a guarantee, you know. Someday is just a wish. Some will be granted the wish, others won’t. If you want it, do it now.

Fuck someday. I’m ready now.

So, Steve and I are going to climb Mt. Whitney as a day hike in 2015! (Darren hates hiking and wants no part of this business, so he’ll be waiting for us down at the bottom in Lone Pine.)

The hike is also dependent on whether we can nab a permit, which is a highly competitive process. Flexibility is on our side, though; we’ll climb any day of the week during the season!

Review: Costco Yoga Jacket

By Heather

costco kirkland yoga jacketA few weeks ago, I snagged one of these yoga jackets (in black) from a pile on a table in the middle of our local Costco, and I’m soooo glad I did.

Most of the time, I wear it in the morning when I’m waiting for the gym to open and it’s still cool out.

But on hikes, this thing has been indispensable!

The fabric dries quickly, stretches comfortably and is nice and thick, but not bulky. I can put my iPod or iPhone into the arm sleeve and listen through a little headphone loop in the arm.

The interior has a mesh lining for breathability and the pockets are deep and roomy. It has reflective piping so you won’t get run over if you’re exercising at night.

Darren thinks this is ridiculous, but my favorite part is the thumb holes. You can cover your hands and keep them warm without having to constantly yank the sleeves back down! Maybe this is not a thing men care about.

Lastly, that amazing price…only $20?! I haven’t fact-checked this, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say you won’t find a jacket this nice at this price at Lululemon or Athletica.

The ONLY thing I’m not wild about is how damn hard it is to get the jacket back on when I’m finished with my workout and still a little damp. The sleeves kind of stick to my arms and I have to really yank on the ends to get them over my hands and it probably looks pretty ridiculous to anyone who might be spectating.

No Costco membership? If you don’t have one, I’m almost positive you know someone who does. Ask them if you can tag along on their next trip. No, you will not be an imposition. Costco cult members love new recruits! Join ussssssssssssssssss.

Project Half Dome: Sleeping Arrangements

By Heather

hammocks table mountain angeles national forest

Since we’re doing Half Dome as an overnight backpacking hike, the subject of sleeping arrangements has frequently come up.

In short, I’m going to be sleeping in a hammock. Our Hammock Bliss hammocks pack down to the size of cantaloupes and weigh about a pound, if that. It’s very comfortable. They are also roomy – while you’re in one, you can cocoon yourself to protect against breezes and some less determined bugs.

This has been a controversial choice, for some reason. But if John Muir didn’t need an ultralight tent and sleeping bag, then I certainly don’t…for now. There are plenty of trees in Little Yosemite Valley, the backpacking camp most stay at before heading up to Half Dome the following morning.

Perhaps it’s the bears that concern people, but since I’m not going to dip myself in honey before climbing into the hammock for the evening, I’m not terribly worried about it.

Aside from the hammock, I’ll also pack a light blanket, mosquito net and some tree straps. For a pillow, I’ll just use some clothes.

Darren’s plans are still in flux, but he’s leaning toward braving the ground. Steve, being super human, will most definitely sleep on the ground and have the best night of sleep of his life, because he’s just like that.

Hiking to Mt. Wilson via Chantry Flats

By Heather

I snuck in another big hike before the high elevations get dicey, this time to Mt. Wilson! Yeah! This brings me to 50% completion of the Socal Sixpack!

It was supposed to happen on Saturday, but LA finally decided to rain instead. I actually wore a sweater. The Sunday forecast was sunnier, so I just crossed my fingers that there wasn’t any snow, hopped in my car and took off for the mountains.

hiking sign mt wilsonIt was glorious. And better yet, Mt. Baldy was the only peak with any snow on it. You can’t see it as well as I could see it in person, but trust me:

mt baldy view from mt wilson

I enjoyed this trail a lot. A word to the wise – if you were planning to start your hike any earlier than 6 a.m., plan again. The road leading to the Chantry Flats is closed until then.

The trail begins with a hike down a paved road into a canyon. About one half mile in, you’ll come to a convergence of trails. The nice thing about this trail is that it’s really well marked.

IMG_9666Just when you’re wondering if you’re still on the correct trail, boom, there’s a sign telling you to continue on, Mt. Wilson this way (or in the case of the above photo, showing you the way back to your car).

fall foliage mt wilsonMost of the hike was very, very shady. I never took off my jacket and wished I had a pair of gloves, too.

The ground was still muddy from the previous day’s rain, but not horribly so.

And there was fall foliage galore. Look at those beautiful leaves! I haven’t seen colors like that since leaving Richmond, VA, ages ago. I didn’t realize that I missed them and that it would be so nice to see them again.

Eventually, you will come up to the Spruce Grove backpackers’ camp. It’s a perfect resting spot before continuing the final push to Mt. Wilson. There are bathrooms. They’re horrible bathrooms that haven’t been stocked or cleaned recently, but anything beats having to dig a hole and just pray no one walks by.

After Spruce Grove come the switchbacks to the summit. To keep myself going, I kept count. If memory serves, there are about 12-15?

mt wilson observatory

And then you’re there.

I was warned the summit is totally anticlimactic. This is true. At the top of Mt. Wilson is a complex of radio towers and telescopes, so forget any panoramic views. Also, forget sending a text! With all that communications equipment, I couldn’t text Darren to let him know I was standing roughly 6,000 feet above him. Boooo to that.

I spent a few minutes up there, drank some water, ate a granola bar and then headed back down.

Pros and cons

  • Pro: It’s a very pretty hike and there is a lot of varying scenery and terrain.
  • Pro: The trail was not very crowded at all. Although this is a popular spot, once you park and start hiking, people become fewer and further between.
  • Pro: Very shady trail, for the most part. You might want to bring extra warmth.
  • Pro: A very, very well-marked trail. You will not get lost.
  • Con: Lots of trail runners and mountain bikers on what is a very narrow trail at points.
  • Con: Lots of bad behavior from runners and bikers, including not yielding to hikers going up and not saying things like “On your left,” which made for some really startling encounters. Common courtesy, people.

What to know

  • There are at least two opportunities for bathroom breaks in proper yet chemical toilets on the way up.
  • Have very grippy shoes!! There’s lots of granite and a few stream crossings.
  • Look out – there’s one section where the trail disappears and you have to climb over some rocks. One false move, and you’ll fall into the creek 30 feet below. Yikes. On the way back, when I was really tired, it was a tad nerve-wracking. Just be patient, don’t panic, take your time and you’ll get to the other side!
  • The road leading to the trailhead doesn’t open until 6 a.m.
  • Get there as close to 6 as you can if you want to have any hope of finding a parking spot. By 7, forget it.
  • You need a CA Adventure Pass to park in the lot; don’t skip out on it because you could get a big fine. Day passes are $5; year passes are $30.

Final stats

According to my FitBit, this hike clocked in at 33,382 steps; 14.84 miles; roughly 480 flights of stairs (FitBit didn’t record that for posterity, for some reason). It took me almost exactly 5 hours and 30 minutes from start to finish, but I’m not a leisurely hiker, so your mileage may vary.