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Baldy 11-peaks 5-27-06
1. Sugarloaf (6924’, 6:40a)
2. Ontario (8697’, 8a)
3. Bighorn (8441’, 8:50a)
4. Etiwanda (8662, 10:20a)
5. Cucamonga (8859’, 11a)
6. Timber (8303’, 12:15)
7. Telegraph (8985’, 1:30)
8. Thunder (8587’, 2:00)
9. Harwood (9552’, 4:00)
10. Baldy (10,064’, 4:30)
11. West Baldy (9988’, but not a HPS peak, 4:50)
Knowing that I would be attending Memorial Day weekend picnics and getting fat on Sunday and Monday, I figured I had to balance all that nosh with something phat on Saturday. So I decided to see how many of the Mt Baldy area HPS peaks I could tag in a day.
The weather was perfect for a long hike with cool temps all day and lots of cloud/fog cover to reduce getting beaten down by the normally strong sun in the Baldy area. With the cloud deck ~8000’ for most of the day the views were pretty poor. I’ve never seen tree drizzle (fog condensation dipping from the trees) so strong as today, sometimes it actually seemed to be raining under a big pine tree.
Started at Icehouse Canyon on a cool and overcast morning ~5:40 with an odd white/black rabbit enjoying the parking area. Hiked up Icehouse canyon for about ½ mile then turned south and went X-country up Falling Rock canyon (never saw any poison oak). This provides a rather enjoyable class 2 scramble up to the ridgeline that leads to Sugarloaf (just as rvmarathon had indicated). Ascending the scree slope wasn’t bad at all, just stay on the south-east side of the scree slope and follow the rock-ducks to avoid the loose scree. Since Richard P had indicated that the old register was an oozing black mess of gu, I donated a new plastic bag, pen and piece of paper to the summit register.
Then headed back up the same ridgeline and followed the trail ducks up to Ontario (no register). Took the normal trail across to Bighorn and down a use-trail along its SE ridgeline to the Bighorn-Cuca saddle and up the normal trail to Cucamonga junction and followed the Joe Elliott Tree trail over to Etiwanda.
With the clouds/fog obscuring the views and having never been to Etiwanda before, I mistakenly left the trail too early and climbed up one of the satellite points along the ridge and startled some deer. After a seeming long time, I finally got to the real Etiwanda Pk. On the way back spotted the large rock carin at the trail junction marking the spot to veer up to Etiwanda Pk. Then hiked along the normal trail back to Cucamonga before heading back to Icehouse Saddle (noon). Although I saw only 1 other person the along these 5 front-range peaks, I saw tons of people back at Icehouse Saddle.
Got a snack on Timber Mt and was challenged with getting the summit register out of the Chapman Mt mail box. The plastic container fits perfectly into the mail box. I placed a small rock at the bottom of the mail box so it’s a little easier to get a grip on the plastic bottle. On the way over to Telegraph, passed a large group of boy scouts as they were heading over to Icehouse Saddle on some backpacking trip.
Then up and over Thunder Mt, before getting to the Baldy notch (2:30) for lunch and drinks. Started up the Devil’s Backbone trail ~3 in pretty cold-foggy conditions and got up Harwood ~4, Baldy ~4:30 and West Baldy ~5. It was very cold and windy on top and I was freezing with just a light sunshirt and shorts. It was really neat to watch the clouds swirling around the summits of Baldy and West Baldy. The photos I took don’t really capture how quickly the clouds would come & go in dramatic fashion.
Since I had enough time, I considered going for Dawson (but not Pine). I figured it would take about 1.5 hours over and back (and to tackle the extra ~2000’ of gain/loss, ouch), which would put me back on the top of Baldy around 6:30-7p. But I chickened out as I was freezing and the north slope of Baldy was going to be even colder and still has a pretty good snowpack and didn’t want to freeze my feet in their light trailrunner shoes (boohoo! give him a Kleenex). Besides my aversion to risk is directly proportional to how tired I am, and I was pretty tired by now.
Although .... with a ride or car waiting in Wrightwood, I think it would be possible to do these 11 peaks plus tag Dawson, Pine and Wright, and then finish at Wrightwood for a total of 14 peaks (13 HPS); that would be one really phat day! Hmmm, group (death) hike
On the way down to the Sierra Club cabin, got some photos of the old (1940-50s?) airplane radial motor wreckage, passed a large group of scout camping the rock garden near Piton rock and got down to Manker Flats at 6:40. Since I couldn’t find anyone to bum a ride back to Icehouse, I started jogging down the road with my thumb sticking out as cars passed by. Finally one of the guys that cooks burgers up at the notch stopped and offered me a ride down; thanks again. That would have been a long and hard jog, even if it’s all downhill.
Overall, another great day in the cool & cloudy mountains.
Total; 13 hours, estimate ~27 miles and lots of ups & downs
Here are some photos