I parked at Icehouse Canyon Trailhead (4,900') and hung my Adventure Pass on the rearview mirror. I was on the trail at 6:50am. The sun had already risen but I didn't see the sun until I got to Icehouse Saddle. I had 3 quarts of water in my camelback and 1 quart of Gatorade. I pushed the pace to make this a power-hike. The lower half of this 3.6-mile trail is a beautiful hike along a gushing mountain creek (even in July!). The upper half on the switchbacks seemed steeper than the lower part of the trail. It didn't slow me down much because I was still acclimated from hiking in Colorado over the past several weeks. I arrived at Icehouse Saddle (7,555') exactly as my watch beeped 8:00am.
Icehouse Saddle is the central hub for the six 8,000' peaks in this area. Cucamonga Peak (8,859') is 2.4 miles up the trail going to the southeast. Ontario Peak (8,697') is 2.9 miles up the trail to the southwest. Bighorn Peak (8,441') is 3/4 of a mile off this same trail. Timber Mtn (8,303'), Telegraph Peak (8,985'), and Thunder Mtn (8,587') are up the aptly named the "Three T's" trail to the north of Icehouse Saddle.
At Icehouse Saddle, I ate some fig newtons and then headed southeast towards Cucamonga Peak. The first part of the 2.4-mile trail from Icehouse Saddle to Cucamonga Peak is not a lot of fun. It descends quite a bit (400' or 500'?) and the trail is narrow and on loose dirt (much smaller than scree). But after about 9/10's of a mile, the trail takes you around the side of Bighorn Peak over to the saddle (7,654') between it and Cucamonga Peak. At this saddle, you get a good view of the valley below. The trail up to Cucamonga Peak from this saddle is a pretty trail through the woods with good views. Near the top, you can easily spot Cajon Pass (I-15 crossing over into the High Desert) to the north.
I kept a good pace and was on Cucamonga Peak (8,859') at 9:00am. I had a beautiful day for late July. There was little smog below in the valley, and I could easily see past I-210 over to I-10. I was the first one on the peak on this Saturday morning, and I had it all to myself. I signed the log book and ate some food (granola bars, banana, beef jerky, gummy bears). It was quiet, serene, and peaceful with little wind. Six miles down, ten to go. One peak down, two to go.
At 9:30am, I began heading down the trail to go for the next two peaks. At the saddle between Bighorn Peak and Cucamonga Peak, I went up the ridgeline to Bighorn Peak. There isn't an official trail, but you can easily locate a scant trail from others who have gone this route. The ridgeline is steep and I was careful to avoid vegetation and to walk on rocks and logs as much as possible to avoid soil erosion. It was easy to see that others had come up this way. I'd like to see about cutting an official trail up this way. I think others would enjoy the route.
By 10:15am, I was on Bighorn Peak (8,441'). I didn't spot a log book so I didn't stay long. From the peak, I picked up the trail that heads down to the Ontario Peak trail. Suddenly, a bighorn sheep moved through the bushes about 30 yards from me. It really scared me. He was a beautiful creature. He stood there on the ridgeline and watched me as I took his picture. I guess this explains the name of this peak.
I came to the saddle where the trail splits for Bighorn Peak and Ontario Peak. There's a sign that clearly marks the way indicating Bighorn Peak is 3/4 miles to the left (whence I had come) and Ontario Peak 1 mile to the right (to which I was heading).
The trail to Ontario Peak is like a roller-coaster as it goes up and around three different significant rises until it finally ends at Ontario Peak. Along the way, the trail is kind of bleak because there are so many dead trees in this area and few living ones. The trail goes over and under many large trunks of fallen pine trees. The trail ends at the large boulder pile that makes up Ontario Peak (8,697'). A large, tall, long-dead pine tree that is still standing also marks the spot well. I made good progress and was on Ontario Peak at 11:00am. Again, I had the whole peak to myself. I attempted some more self-portraits with my disposable camera to mark the occasion and ate some more food. Clouds had been accumulating on the horizon so I didn't want to stay too long. Along the trail, you pass several trees scorched by lightning strikes which serve as good reminders about dangerous weather high in the mountains.
I made fast time coming down the trail because I had worn my running shoes instead of my hiking boots. By noon I was at Icehouse Saddle and at 12:40pm I was back at my car. Great day. Beautiful weather. Majestic bighorn sheep. Sixteen miles and three peaks. Great day. Now I'll have to come up and do the three T's (Timber Mtn, Telegraph Peak, and Thunder Mtn). Originally, I had considered doing them on this hike as well, but since Bighorn Peak lived up to its name on this hike, I didn't want to risk Thunder Mtn living up to its name since thunderheads were forming on the horizon.
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