What a beautiful day to be in the mountains! My husband and I took the day off to hike Icehouse Canyon though the Cucamonga Wilderness to Icehouse Saddle and this time our final destination would be Ontario Peak - 13.34 miles roundtrip. We hit the trail at 5:30 am with only the light from our headlamps to guide us. This was the first time we ever hiked for a significant amount of time in complete darkness. I loved it! The forest was so peaceful. The only sounds we heard were the occasional chirp of a bird, the rustling of a forest creature and the rush of the flowing creek below us in the canyon.
It was still dark when we reached Cucamonga Wilderness, but as soon as the sun came up we were treated to the vibrant colors of Fall. We continued onward through the rocky canyon and then on to the switchbacks and finally Icehouse Saddle. The trek to the saddle seemed easier for me this time. Maybe I’m getting stronger.
At the saddle the wind kicked up. We took a quick 5 minute snack break and decided just to push forward onto the Ontario Peak trail to Kelly Camp. We had a long day ahead of us, and I didn’t want to make too many stops to be sure we had enough time to complete our journey. The trail to Kelly Camp was a nice stretch of trail winding through the fragrant pines. We did, however, have to hop over a few downed trees on the way, but nothing too difficult. When we arrived at Kelly Camp, we stopped to watch two foraging deer and took a short rest before continuing up to the ridge. Kelly Camp is a backcountry campground named after John Kelly, who established the camp in 1905 as a mining prospect. It was then turned into a trail resort in 1922. Today, all that remains are some foundations. After leaving Kelly Camp and the shade of the pines, we entered a matchstick forest. This area was burned during a fire in 1980 and left a forest of dead trees. It didn’t seem long before we got to the ridge, where we had spectacular views in all directions. These views stayed with us all the way to the peak. On one side, our sprawling city and the other, the San Gabriel mountain ranges and all the major peaks.
As we hiked along the ridge we had to be careful of false summits. There were a few points where it looked like we were approaching the peak, but we were not. We kept following along the ridge until finally the real Ontario Peak came into view. We climbed up a series of switchbacks and topped out at 8,694’. Success! We took off our packs, snapped our summit selfies and soaked in the views before chowing down on some much earned grub. With not a soul in sight, we had the whole mountain top to ourselves! This sure beats sitting behind a desk!
Now it was time for us to begin our descent. Having completed the mission, I could take my time and focus on taking some great pictures. However, going down still presented us with the challenge of negotiating all the rocks we had climbed up to get here once we got back to the canyon. After we past the wilderness boundary and reached canopy of shaded oak and bigleaf maple trees, I was in awe of all the beautiful colors! We had missed all of this on the way up because we were walking in the pitch black dark. It was absolutely gorgeous. I snapped my photos and by 3 pm we were back at the trailhead. It was an awesome journey!