Leaders: Pete Doggett, Maggie Wilson
It was a dark and stormy night. Oops, wrong writeup. Actually, it was a perfect day for a hike in the mountains. It was a cool and sunny with high clouds that threatened afternoon rain showers. The rain never materialized, but the clouds provided us shade while we were hiking the bulk of our elevation gain.
The hike started about 7:50 a.m. from the parking lot below the crumbled foundation that was once Icehouse Lodge. With wilderness permits in hand, 21 of us began the trek up Icehouse Canyon Trail. I don't know if it was something the leader said, the leaders failure to shower, or what, but beginning about one mile into the journey we started losing hikers. The first person to bail checked out at the intersection with Chapman Trail. She claimed she was suffering from asthma ... but one never knows.
The 20 of us remaining continued onto Cucamonga Peak with the usual water and split breaks along the way. We arrived there about 11:00 a.m., rested a few minutes and then headed over to Etiwanda Peak. At Etiwanda we enjoyed a leisurely 45 minute lunch/nap break. We left Etiwanda about 12:25 p.m. From Etiwanda we hiked back over Cucamonga (it's important to gain as much elevation as possible in one day), and down to Cucamonga Saddle.
At Cucamonga Saddle, the leader must have offended more people within our group. One minute they were walking with us, the next, nine participants were heading back down the trail via the route we had come in on. Oh sure, some of the escapees said that they did not want to hike any further than the moderate 17 mile, 4,400' gain hike advertised in the Schedule. Others claimed they were leaving because they had blisters, evening plans, only wanted to bag Etiwanda and two Cucamongas but one never knows.
The eleven of us remaining hiked up the ridge to Bighorn and back down to the main trail. At this point, another hiker fell off. And then there were 10.
The ten remaining tired, but persistent hikers continued on to Ontario Peak. Here we rested a few minutes, and chatted with a whitebearded man sitting on the peak. He obviously was not offended by our dogged (no pun intended) leader, because he decided to join us for the rest of the day. And then there were 10 +1.
From here our leader efficiently guided us down the ridge to Sugarloaf Mtn. At the saddle below Sugarloaf, two of our everchanging group decided to relax while the rest of us trudged up to Sugarloaf. After bagging our fifth peak of the day, we began our 1,700' descent through Failing Rock Canyon. We quickly sand-skied down the first 500', and then slowly picked our way through the falling rocks, stinging nettles and logs on the remaining 1,200'. At the bottom of Falling Rock Canyon, we crossed the river to meet up with the Icehouse Canyon Trail, and hiked about one-half mile to the cars.
For the 10 of us that could bear to hike with the leader all day, we bagged 5 peaks, gained 6,830 feet of elevation and hiked/rested for 10 hours and 32 minutes. At least that's what my altimeter/watch/chronometer/thermometer/barometer/rocket launcher thing shows... but one never knows.