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Icehouse Canyon to Icehouse Saddle, April 23, 2006

Monday, August 21st, 2006 by

On April 23, 2006, Erin, Joe, and I went on a hike up the aptly named Icehouse Canyon. This was 7.2 mi RT, with 2600′ of elevation gain (although the listing I see now says 5120′ to 7580′, so , eh), ending at Icehouse Saddle.

wee-ice


At the beginning, everything is nice. We’re just slowly heading uphill, walking up, you guessed it, a canyon. The weather so far is actually pretty nice, maybe in the high 50s, although it felt pretty brisk at the car. But as we started walking, it felt pretty good.

off-kilter
A little snow on the trees, but the ground is clear

snow-spikes
Although looking at any snow at all sitting on this kind of plant is rather odd

We we continued on up canyon. There are lots of cabins here, which seems like it would be pretty awesome most of the year. In the warm times, you’ve got a lovely river to play in, and a nice walkin to your cabin, without too much trouble, but not too surrounded by people or cars or anything, and it stays nice and cool there a lot longer than most of the rest of the surrounding areas.

However, as we kept on going, the area kept getting both snowier and foggier, although the ground was still generally clear.

directional
I wonder which way the wind blows?

And then soon enough, as we kept going, we entered the Cucamonga Wilderness. Now, apparently you are supposed to get a permit to go into this area, which if we had spent any more time reading the guidebook we would have known about. However, in this one case, we totally blew it, and didn’t have a permit, but then we just blew past the sign. We are BAD BAD PEOPLE. Very Bad. Extremely Bad, and we deserve to be taken out back and shot, or at the very least paddled, but so be it. We continued! We also kept running into people who were warning us that there was a lot of snow further up, but so far, the ground was still going strong as being, well, ground.

wilderness
We didn’t see any bears

Then it really did start to get foggier. Fog, fog, fog. So much fog! I am maybe 40 feet down the path from my fellow black specks^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H hikers on the trail there. See the fog? I see the fog.

fog-crop
I see…fog

We kept going. Eventually, the promised snow did show up. We were a little taken aback. First, you pass a bit of snowpack on the trail. Then a little more. These first ones are pretty beaten down, and slick, and all that. Also, I’m stupid, and didn’t have any gloves. Oops. And then there was just a lot of snow.

slope
I look terrible in this photo. But, snow!

So we struggled up this slope, and it was starting to get pretty cold, and we wanted to stop and eat something, and we didn’t really have serious winter gear with us (we weren’t about to freeze to death or anything, but we weren’t really toasty warm either). And, you know, walking on snow is harder than walking on straight trail. So we decided we would go 5 minutes further, and then turn around. And of course we then hit the saddle. In defeat, success!

viewing
It was windier at the top, so a bunch of snow is blown off. But before you start thinking there was less snow up there, please look at the signs in the background.

depth
They were buried reasonably deeply (Remember, this is late April. In Southern California.)

We looked at the signs at the saddle for a bit. A lot of trails converge up there. We then backed off a bit, and Joe brought out his JetBoil, which was a new toy at the time, and we melted up some snow to make some hot cocoa. We also learned that trying to get snow without pine needles in it is worthwhile. oh well, a lesson for next time.

We then continued on back down, through the fog and snow. The sun was trying to burn off the fog as we kept going down canyon, but it was competing with the fact that the fog was thicker the further down you went. There was one glorious point where we got a hint of what the day would be like shortly:

momentary-sun
Brilliant!

Then we descended further into the fog. Which slowly abated as we made our way back to the car, and it got warmer and more pleasant. Generally, a really nice hike, pretty well graded all the way, but a reasonable amount of exertion.

snowman
Someone had put this on a rock near the bottom

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