After a bout of internet “technical difficulties” and some adventures, we’re back. Sunny will turn 7 months old this week and is losing his puppy looks to turn into a handsome big dog. He still has boundless puppy energy, so we’re always on the quest for activities to burn that energy off. (A tired dog is a good dog:)
We had a week of adventure last week and one of our favorite trips was up to the high country of the San Gabriel mountains. Early one morning we started out at the Ice House Canyon trailhead on our way to Cucamonga Peak, in the Cucamonga Wilderness. You need a free wilderness permit to enter the Cucamonga Wilderness, which are available at the Mount Baldy Visitors Center. Due to budget cuts, the center is only open on the weekends, Friday to Sunday. A super awesome ranger left our permit for us to collect on the board outside the visitors center-thank you ranger Steve!
The Ice House Canyon trail meanders through a lovely canyon alongside a stream. Years ago, there was a mountain resort here and now there are forestry cabins dotted throughout the canyon. In normal snowpack years, huge blocks of ice were cut from the canyon and hauled to Los Angeles for refrigeration purposes, before fridges were common. California is in a drought and our snow is practically non-existent in the mountains this year, so there were no snowballs for us this time.
We made good time through the canyon and up to the Icehouse saddle. In the summer this trail gets crazy busy, but other than a large hiking club group, there were not too many people on the trail this time.
The saddle is a jucntion for those who want to go higher and further, with trails to the 3 T’s, Cucamonga Peak, Ontario Peak and the Middlefork Trail down into canyon on the other side of the saddle. We took the Cucamonga Peak trail.
The trail hugs the side of Bighorn peak and at our now higher elevation of 7600 feet, there were small patches of snow and ice along shaded parts of the trail. This was Sunny’s first time experiencing snow and he dove right in. We were on the edge of a mountain so it wasn’t a good place to get the zooms, so we had to move on after a quick introduction.
Although this part of the trail is fairly flat, the exposure to the steep drop offs into the canyon below are not for those with a fear of heights. We decided it was too dangerous to continue with a rambunctious pup and the icy patches, so we turned around and headed back to the Icehouse Saddle for lunch.
The views into the Cucamonga Wilderness from here are fantastic. Surrounded by limber pine and granite, one feels like you are in the Sierra Nevada, not so close to Los Angeles. From our altitude we could see all the way out to the Mojave desert, quite a drastic landscape change.
Back at the saddle we found a nice spot in the shade for our lunch. Sunny was very interested in all the scents wafting in on the breeze.
With the change of plans, we decided to head up the 3 T’s trail to the closest T, Timber Mountain. This trail was much steeper but switchbacked up the mountain through the limberpines and opening views with no big exposures. The views were beautiful. On a clear day, you can see all the way to the ocean from here.
It didn’t take long to reach the top of Timber Mountain, which became Sunny’s highest summit to date at 8303 feet. He was happy to pose for a picture….
And then promptly crash out for a nap.
After a 10 minute nap, Sunny was raring to go and we headed back down the trail. The sun was getting ready to set as we neared the trailhead, bathing the canyon in warm light.
After 7 hours we enjoyed 12 miles of trail and 4800feet of elevation gain and we got one tired pup:)