Saturday, August 22, 2015

Etiwanda Peak: Jack Webb Edition

West Baldy, Baldy, Harwood, Telegraph, Pine, and Timber
You youngsters may not remember Jack Webb. He played Sergeant Joe Friday (and Harry Morgan played his side-kick, Bill Gannon) on the late 1960s television series "Dragnet." In that series, Sergeant Joe Friday was a fictional LA police detective whose mis-attributed signature catchphrase was "Just the facts, Ma'am."

Well, because I've not felt particularly creative, motivated, or inspired of late to pound out flowery and verbose trip reports, I'm opting here for something a bit more truncated than normal. So, in a nod to Joe Friday, here are "just the facts" about a recent trip to Etiwanda Peak by way of Icehouse Canyon and the Cucamonga Peak trail.

I arrived at Icehouse Canyon around 9:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning to find the parking lot predictably and completely packed. There was no room at the Inn so me and a bunch of other late-sleeping losers had to park 1/4 mile up Mt. Baldy Road.

Like the parking lot, the trail was busy. Water was flowing in the lower stretches of the canyon but it quickly disappeared from the creek-bed by the time I passed the last cabin. Further up the canyon, reliable Columbine Spring was still flowing. As usual, the trail to the saddle was in good shape.

Water Flowing in Lower Icehouse Canyon

Am I in SEKI?

Columbine Spring
Looking Back Down Icehouse Canyon

Mt. Baldy from Upper Icehouse Canyon
At the saddle, I took a quick breather to hydrate and have a snack. There were folks there, but not as many as expected given the situation in the parking lot below. The mountains have a curious way hiding a great number of people in their innumerable slots, nooks, crannies, and folds.

Timber Peak from Cucamonga Peak Trail

Looking Into Upper Cucamonga Canyon

View Into Middle Fork Lytle Creek Drainage

Ascending the Cucamonga Peak Trail - Big Horn, Timber, and Telegraph
Beyond the saddle, the hordes of hikers thinned, but there were still a bunch of folks making their way out to Cucamonga Peak. I was sucking gas as I labored up the switch-backs on the north side of Cucamonga and was feeling disgusted about the state of my conditioning until I passed several groups of youngsters 30 years my junior struggling even more than me. After that, I only felt embarrassed about the pathetic attempts to finish off the never-ending switch-backs.

The Trail Less Traveled

Ridgeline View Before Etiwanda

Looking East Toward Gorgonio and San Jacinto from Etiwanda

View South from Eitwanda Peak

East Face of Cucamonga Peak from Etiwanda

Looking to Joe Elliot Campground and San Sevaine Road
Beyond the junction with the use trail to Cucamonga Peak, other hikers disappeared entirely and for the next 1.25 miles, I had the run of the place. Atop Etiwanda (which has the best views of any peak in the range), I found the summit register and logged in. The most recent entry was five days earlier which confirmed that Etiwanda doesn't see much traffic.

On the way down, I splashed in the creek in lower Icehouse Canyon as other hikers looked on in bemusement at the crazy old guy joyously playing in the water like a child. But I couldn't help myself. In my hot and dusty condition, the icy cold stream was too much of an attractive nuisance to ignore.

The app on my mobile device reports total mileage for this trip at about 14.5 with around 5,100 feet of total elevation gain. The Sierra Club Hundred Peaks Section has the total mileage at 17, but that seems excessive to me (and to Tom Harrison). I'm going with Tom Harrison.

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