Icehouse Canyon, Cucamonga Wilderness, Icehouse Saddle, Kelly Camp, Ontario Peak GPS: 13.34 Miles RT, 8,696' (4,554' +/-), October 6, 2017

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! 
 

 On the trail at 5:30 am, headlamps guiding the way.  The forest is beautiful in the darkness.

On the trail at 5:30 am, headlamps guiding the way.  The forest is beautiful in the darkness.

 It was still dark when we reached Cucamonga Wilderness.  

It was still dark when we reached Cucamonga Wilderness.  

 Watching the moon set.

Watching the moon set.

 When the sun came up we could see the colors!

When the sun came up we could see the colors!

 Beautiful Fall leaves!

Beautiful Fall leaves!

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 After the rocky trek through the canyon we arrived at the switchbacks.  

After the rocky trek through the canyon we arrived at the switchbacks.  

 Let the fun begin!

Let the fun begin!

 At the saddle now ready to take on Ontario Peak.  

At the saddle now ready to take on Ontario Peak.  

 There were a few downed trees on the Ontario Peak Trail that we had to hop over.

There were a few downed trees on the Ontario Peak Trail that we had to hop over.

 When we arrived at Kelly Camp, we were treated to two foraging deer.

When we arrived at Kelly Camp, we were treated to two foraging deer.

 Next we climbed up and out of the pine forest...

Next we climbed up and out of the pine forest...

 ...and into the match stick forest to the ridge.

...and into the match stick forest to the ridge.

 There were a lot of little birds in this area.

There were a lot of little birds in this area.

 Still going up.

Still going up.

 At the ridge.  Here we headed to Ontario Peak just 1.4 miles away now.

At the ridge.  Here we headed to Ontario Peak just 1.4 miles away now.

 The sprawling city below.

The sprawling city below.

 Taking a little break here.  Behind my husband from left to right Timber Mountain, Big Horn Peak and Cucamonga Peak.

Taking a little break here.  Behind my husband from left to right Timber Mountain, Big Horn Peak and Cucamonga Peak.

 More city views.

More city views.

 There were some false summits on this trail.  Just when you think you see it, you realize you have a lot farther to go then you think!

There were some false summits on this trail.  Just when you think you see it, you realize you have a lot farther to go then you think!

 Looking back at the beautiful mountains.

Looking back at the beautiful mountains.

 Mount San Antonio looming in the background.

Mount San Antonio looming in the background.

 The push to the summit goes through a series of switchbacks.  It's a slow but steady climb with breath taking views.

The push to the summit goes through a series of switchbacks.  It's a slow but steady climb with breath taking views.

 Still going up.

Still going up.

 Summit!!!!

Summit!!!!

 Time to celebrate with an ice cold beer if you have one!

Time to celebrate with an ice cold beer if you have one!

 Look at this amazing view of the San Gabriel mountain range.  Wow!

Look at this amazing view of the San Gabriel mountain range.  Wow!

 Mount San Antonio from the peak.

Mount San Antonio from the peak.

 My husband.

My husband.

 That's me.

That's me.

 We had some lunch, enjoyed the solitude and then began our descent.  

We had some lunch, enjoyed the solitude and then began our descent.  

 Big Horn and Cucamonga Peaks.

Big Horn and Cucamonga Peaks.

 Back through the match stick forest.  

Back through the match stick forest.  

 Mount San Antonio

Mount San Antonio

 We had to go through a lot of tall manzanita.

We had to go through a lot of tall manzanita.

 Dead trees.

Dead trees.

 I took a lot of photos of Mount San Antonio.

I took a lot of photos of Mount San Antonio.

 Looking across the ridge.  

Looking across the ridge.  

 Soaking it all in.

Soaking it all in.

 More manzanita.  

More manzanita.  

 Golden leaves.

Golden leaves.

 I think these berries are what the all the birds in this section were eating.

I think these berries are what the all the birds in this section were eating.

 I kept looking up hoping to see Big Horn sheep, but no luck today.

I kept looking up hoping to see Big Horn sheep, but no luck today.

 The forest is so beautiful.

The forest is so beautiful.

 Still working our way down.

Still working our way down.

 Cucamonga Wilderness.

Cucamonga Wilderness.

 Can't get enough of this beautiful forest!

Can't get enough of this beautiful forest!

 That feeling of success!  (Even though we were still only halfway down.)

That feeling of success!  (Even though we were still only halfway down.)

 Just about back to the rocky section of the trail.

Just about back to the rocky section of the trail.

 Fall colors.

Fall colors.

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 Now back in the canyon, we enjoyed the sound of the creek along with the golden leaves glistening in the afternoon sunshine.

Now back in the canyon, we enjoyed the sound of the creek along with the golden leaves glistening in the afternoon sunshine.

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 Last photo of the day.  We arrived back at the trailhead at approximately 3 pm.  It was an awesome day!

Last photo of the day.  We arrived back at the trailhead at approximately 3 pm.  It was an awesome day!