4am Sunday wake up call meant skipping karaoke Saturday night. WORTH IT.
Got to Icehouse Canyon parking lot at 6am but alas, thwarted with my early start when I found there were no blank permits in the box at the trailhead. I had called and asked earlier in the week if I would need to get a permit beforehand and was told they run out early. But that wasn’t the issue. I don’t think they collect or restock those permits often. The box was completely full. I asked a few other hiking groups what their plans were. Most seemed unaware you even needed a permit. I thought about risking it…but being a responsible hiker and obedient daughter, I drove to the Mount Baldy Visitor Center and grabbed a stack.
Hit the trail at 6:30am. Pretty steady uphill climb, but felt good. Surprised at how many people there were. But most went different routes once I got to Saddleback. Had my go to peanutbutter and banana sandwich. Seriously, best energy boost! Aside from a group deciding to sit three feet away from me when there’s a whole forest of space, this was a lovely spot. And the hike up to Saddlecreek was so beautiful. Loved all the trees and the rising sun. Love the running water on the early part of the trail.
I was nervous about the 2.5 miles from Saddleback to Cucamonga Peak. I had read the elevation gain is pretty intense and you’re completely exposed in the sun. I made really good time though so the sun wasn’t an issue and in fact, most of the trail was pretty shaded. Made it to the peak at 9:30am! Was stoked it took me 3 hours. I guess all those hours on the stairmaster have paid off!
I didn’t get a picture on the peak with the Cucamonga sign. I actually went around the corner to a view I found much more preferable–the mountains! The sprawling cityscape doesn’t move my heart quite the same. So I enjoyed my snack there. Talked to a few different hikers who shared their stories of why they were doing the hike which extended my time on the top.
Going down is always so much harder for me and my pace really slows. But the descent wasn’t nearly as painful as Mt. Wilson. Made it back down in a total of 6 hours and 15 minutes! And not very sore today! But I know it only gets harder from here…