Hike up Cucamonga Peak - September 9, 2006

Below are some photos of the climb up Cucamonga Peak by Tyler Schemper and Mark Vander Pol.

We left Tyler's house in Temecula around 6:45am and were at the trailhead at 8:15, and that included a quick stop at the Forest Service Visitor Center to get a wilderness permit. When we got to the trailhead the parking lot was absolutely packed - no spaces left. We had to drive back to the main road where there was a little parking along the side. We parked there and then had to walk an additional quarter mile (oh my!) to the trailhead. We soon realized why the parking lot was full - there must have been a hiking club or an outing of some sort. Whichever it was they must have been out early because the group was already coming back down the trail. We must have passed at least 100 people over the first mile and a half.

A map of the trip is forthcoming.

Much of the mountsides looked similar to this. Some big trees, maybe a few shrubs, and rocks. Lots and lots of rocks - hanging on as much as the angle of repose will allow.

Tyler with Mt. San Antonio in the background.

3.5 miles and 2,700 feet later we reached Icehouse Saddle (here looking west). Thus far we had passed scores of people coming back down the mountain as well as played leap-frog with a dozen or so people going up with us. Even with all those people I didn't feel crowded as the scenery was amazing and the views got bigger and bigger as we went higher and higher up the valley wall.

At Icehouse Saddle we got our first views looking east into the high dessert (doesn't show up so well in the photo). It was quite an amazing sight. Views like that are what have hooked me into making these trips.

From this point we took the trail leading, obviously, to Cucamonga Peak. It was uncanny that considering all the people we had seen thus far, we didn't see anybody else until about 200 yards from the summit.

Our first view of Cucamonga Peak (at least I think it is!).

Tyler on the trail. Quite a bit of the trail looked like the trail in the upper part of the photo.

Along side the trail there was a noticeable hole in the rock wall at ground level and another hole further up the wall. Of course we had to at least look! The ground level hole was a cave (mine?) about 15 yards deep and maybe 6 feet tall towards the back. I had to at least check out the hole up above, but in this picture you can see about as much as I could - there was nothing.

Tyler on the trail. We are now on the northwestern side of Cucamonga Peak having passed through the saddle (at 7,654') between Cucamonga and Bighorn Peaks. At the saddle the wind was ripping up and over the valley and dropped the temperature by at least 15 degrees! See the Photo of Ontario Peak below to see what the valley off to the right of the photo looked like.

The trail up to this point was constantly gaining elevation except for a slight downhill shortly after Icehouse Saddle. "Feeling the burn" at this point was an understatement I think for both of us!

Finally, we made it to the top! Much to our surprise we had the peak to ourselves. We passed up a small group taking a break just below the summit, but they didn't summit until we had been there for 10-15 minutes. Tyler signed the summit register for us and then we ate a much deserved lunch while taking in the amazing panoramic views.

As you can see the valley below was really hazy. Off in the distance you can see San Gorgonio on the left and San Jacinto on the right.

Looking almost straight down into the valley. The visibilty was slightly better than the photograph shows.

A little rock outcropping with San Gorgonio in the background.

Tyler on the peak.

Mark on the peak.

Looking out to the east with the high dessert on the left. As far as I could tell that is an unnamed peak in the foreground.

Here is that valley I was talking about earlier with Ontario Peak in the upper right corner.

Bighorn Mountain (along the same ridge as Ontario Peak) with Mt. Baldy in the background.

Tyler going down, down, down. Except for that now little uphill section before Icehouse Saddle (which felt "great" on our legs) the trail never stopped its descent.

Many of the dead Pine trees looked similar to the "spire" on the left. They were really kind of beautiful. The wood just spiraled around the tree.

I wasn't able to get a photograph earlier in the morning of Icehouse Creek, which we followed for the first mile and a half along the valley floor. It was flowing a lot more than I would have expected in early September, but we saw a few springs that were feeding it on the way up the valley.

Altough it cannot be seen as well in the photo, the water was unbelievably clear.

That was our trip in a nutshell! Even though I was in pain that night and most of the next day, I am already looking at other peaks to bag! Let me know if you are interested in joining me!

Other recent camping/hiking/backpacking trips

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