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Eaton Saddle, Mt. Lowe Road, Mt. Lowe Trail Camp, Tom Sloan, Mt. Lowe East, 6.4 Miles RT, 1,434' +/-, 5,421' Max Elevation, April 21, 2019

Eaton Saddle, Mt. Lowe Road, Mt. Lowe Trail Camp, Tom Sloan, Mt. Lowe East, 6.4 Miles RT, 1,434' +/-, 5,421' Max Elevation, April 21, 2019

The weather is still cool so I’m trying to make the best of the front range before it gets too hot. Today we drove up to Eaton Saddle with no specific plan in mind since there are plenty of routes you can take to make a great hike. We hiked up the Mt. Lowe Road through the Mueller Tunnel which experienced an avalanche over the winter, but some of the rocks were cleared so you can get around it safely. At Markham saddle, we decided to continue down the Mt. Lowe Road to Mt. Lowe Trail Camp and the ruins of Ye Alpine Tavern where we’d take a break and enjoy the ham and cheese croissants we’d picked up from the donut shop before starting our hike. I really love this area and enjoy walking the Mt. Lowe Fire Road. The views are great down into Bear Canyon and you can really see just how rugged the San Gabriels are. As we hiked the sun was trying very hard to break through the clouds, but we were soon engulfed in them as they wrapped around the mountain and our views disappeared in a heavy mist of white. When we reached the junction with the Tom Sloan Saddle trail, we branched off to explore it for about a quarter mile. It descended steeply and since we didn’t want to lose too much elevation, we decided to save that adventure for another day. I was really enjoying being surrounded by all the cloud cover. When we arrived at the Mt. Lowe Trail Camp, I noted that there was water flowing. This is the first time I’d seen it there. There were a few people enjoying the solitude of the camp, and we stopped for a while to appreciate the silence and eat lunch. I pulled out the map while we were eating to check out the Mt. Lowe East Trail. It would be a shorter, but steeper route back, so we decided to explore it. We got on the trail and began climbing up the switchbacks on Mt Lowe’s southern slope. There were some loose rocky, sections that were narrow and exposed so we had to be careful on those, but nothing too terrible. At one point, two mountain bikers almost collided into us as they were racing down the mountain on the switchbacks that didn’t give them much visibility to see what was around the corner. Thankfully, they saw us and we moved to the side so they could continue their way down the mountain. I worked up a pretty good sweat climbing up, but soon we reached the junction with the summit trail to Mt. Lowe. I considered continuing up since we were already here, but then we both decided since there would be no views today, that we’d just head back to Eaton Saddle and enjoy an early day.

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Santa Anita Canyon, Chantry Flat, Gabrielino Trail, Sturtevant Falls, Sturtevant Camp, Mount Zion, Winter Creek Trail, 8 miles RT, 2,336 +/-, December 1, 2017

Santa Anita Canyon, Chantry Flat, Gabrielino Trail, Sturtevant Falls, Sturtevant Camp, Mount Zion, Winter Creek Trail, 8 miles RT, 2,336 +/-, December 1, 2017

Today was an epic day full of history!  We arrived at the locked gate at Chantry Flat Road about 10 minutes ‘til 6 just before the sheriff arrived to open it.  We then drove up the windy road to the parking area at Chantry Flats, displayed our Adventure Pass and off we went into the Big Santa Anita Canyon.  This place was beautiful!  I immediately forgot I was only 25 minutes from our house in the city; towering oaks, a village of rustic cabins along a creek and lush, green ivy cascading the canyon walls.  We trekked creekside along the Gabrielino Trail enjoying the scenery before we reached Fiddler’s Crossing where we followed a short spur trail to Sturtevant Falls.  We then backtracked to the Lower Gabrielino trail and traveled onward and upward towards Sturtevant Camp.  The Lower Gabrielino trail took us up above the falls which was pretty cool since I’d never actually been on top of a waterfall before.  But be warned, the trail here is mostly jagged rock cut into the canyon wall, and there was one section in particular where it got a little sketchy due to erosion from the rains.  Besides that section, the rest of the trip is on a lovely, well maintained path.  Next, we headed up towards Spruce Grove camp and picked up the Sturtevant Trail to the historic Sturtevant Camp, established in 1893.  When we arrived, Brad, the host, greeted us welcomingly.  We chatted with him for quite a while and he showed us around the buildings which date back to “The Great Hiking Era”.  He also gave us a little history about the place and showed us inside the Sturtevant Lodge which has a kitchen, a dining hall and a fireplace room with an old piano.  On the walls, you can see photos of Mr. Wilbur Sturtevent himself.  At the turn of the century there were five resorts built here.  Sturtevant Camp is the only one that remains, and it’s still functioning!  You can rent the cabins, but there is no wifi, cell phone service, computers or TV, and your things will have to be brought up by mules from Adam’s Pack Station.  How cool is that!  For more information, you can check out this link:  http://sturtevantcamp.com/  After leaving camp, we got back on the Sturtevant Trail to the Upper Zion trail which took us to the spur for Mount Zion.  In just a short climb we were at the summit looking back at Mount Wilson.  After enjoying the view, we headed down and continued on the Upper Zion trail.  This section didn’t have much shade and the switchbacks were steep.  I was glad we were going down and not up!  Eventually, the trail dropped us back into the cool, shady canyon passing through Hoegee’s camp and onto the Winter Creek Trail before reaching our car parked at Chantry Flats.  We ended our adventure with ice cream from Adam’s Pack Station General store.  I would have loved to have seen the mules, but they were busy working today and making a delivery to Sturtevant Camp.  This was a really great hike with a little bit of everything; beautiful scenery, a waterfall, unique history and even a peak.  We will definitely take this route again through Sturtevant Camp when we hike to Mount Wilson!

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Cucamonga Peak, 8,859', 12 miles RT, (4,252' +/-), November 23, 2017

Cucamonga Peak, 8,859', 12 miles RT, (4,252' +/-), November 23, 2017

Hit the trail early Thanksgiving morning to hike Cucamonga Peak.  We started up Icehouse Canyon at 5:30 am.  This was our third time up this trail to Icehouse Saddle which is a gateway to other trails including Cucamonga Peak.  It used to be a challenge, but it’s getting easier every time.  We entered the Cucamonga Wilderness just before the sun came up, and by 8 am we were at Icehouse Saddle.  We stopped for a snack, and it wasn’t long before other hikers arrived.  One of them was heading to the same destination as we were.  He was using the trail to train for other peaks.  After the break, we hopped on the next segment to Cucamonga Peak.  This is where the real hike began.  From here on out we were on much more rugged terrain with narrow sections, steep cliffs and rock scrambles.  It was one of those hikes where you really had to watch your footing.  Next came the switchbacks.  Some sections were all scree and talus.  It was a hard climb and my fear of heights being on a narrow ledge with loose rock and steep drops was starting to kick in.  I had to stop and take breaks to keep my zen.  I could see the peak, but it seemed a million miles away.  Up and up we went moving slowly, but making progress with each careful step.  We were less then half a mile away from the peak when we saw the young hiker we’d met at Icehouse Saddle coming down.  “Almost there.” he said.  “Take short steps and use your poles.”  After a few more switchbacks I spotted the marker for the spur trail leading up to the peak just ahead.  What a relief!  We made our final ascent up a steep but well buffed out section of trail.  Finally I saw the wooden sign, “Cucamonga Peak 8,859’”.  Whew!  That was rough!  The views from the peak were vast and sprawling overlooking the city and all the way out to the San Jacinto and Santa Ana mountain ranges.  We took a long break to rest our tired legs and celebrate Thanksgiving morning with yesterday’s leftover pizza!  On the way down my overactive mind calmed down.  Although I still had to be careful with my footing, I was in a much better headspace.  The hard part was over.  I was able to soak in the incredible views of the remote wilderness and enjoy the trek down this beautiful mountain.  The switchbacks seemed to go a lot faster on the way down, but we still had to negotiate our way through rugged trail back to Icehouse Saddle.  Once at the saddle, we still had about 3 miles to go to get back to the trailhead.  Luckily, the canyon is so pretty, it makes those last miles go quick.  We finished the hike (including our breaks and all my picture taking) in about 8 hours and 50 minutes.  We’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving day on Friday knowing we earned those extra slices of pumpkin pie!

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