Posted by: martinworster | June 2, 2015

Cucamonga Peak (8859 feet)

Cucamonga Peak – fifth highest mountain in Southern California…let’s do this…

Cloud bursting

Cloud bursting

We’d only had a week of from the last climb – and I’ll be honest I was still aching from 6 days before, particularly my calves. The beginning of the climb stars near the Mount Baldy hike so I was familiar with this pass. We started following the sylvan Columbine Spring stream in the steep sided North facing Ice House Canyon. I bet it’s beautiful here in Winter. The early-ish start – 7.30am – meant it was misty and damp, giving a lovely mystical look as if The Hobbit or a goblin might pop out from behind one of the thick cedar trees. As we got higher we passed massive boulder and scree slopes and took regular rests as I think we were all a bit achey still from last week. Tristan was doing well although seemed to want to rest more than any of us.

Misty mystical pastoral

Misty mystical pastoral

The first major stop off point was the Saddle which is a junction where three major trails meet. One eventually takes you to Mt Baldy, another Ontario Peak and one to our destination Cucamonga. We were now deep in the San Gabriels and as we looked back down the valley we could see clouds lower down. The trail started to switchback and was quite steep in places. Some of it had quite steep drop offs to the side and on these sections I’d hold Tristan’s hand. I started to feel a little bit anxious – I’m with a young boy in the wilderness I’m responsible for his safety. We took regular rests and Tristan’s pace was quite slow. I like to plough on and get in the hiking zone where you’re just steaming forward. I also got a little worried with time – I don’t really want to be coming back down in the dark, although of course we had headlamps for this eventuality.

Looking back down the valley..

Looking back down the valley..

We admired the birds, mainly blue Scrub Jays, plus a bright yellow one I don’t know the name of. Also tiny, baby chipmunks and incredibly healthy (plump) and bushy tailed gray squirrels. Little boys love seeing animals in the wild. I really liked getting Tristan away from computer games, iPads and any other form of screen which are a sadly to frequent intrusion on modern living. I think Tristan also appreciated this. Going was still slow. Never mind – as long as we keep moving forward we should be fine. And any other trite life – hiking metaphors you can come up with.

Are we there yet?

Are we there yet?

I think we hit the peak at approx 3 o’clock. I was again immensely proud of Tristan and he was overjoyed at finally being at the top. It’s all downhill from here. The views were incredible – we were way above the clouds that spread out before us like a white ocean lapping at the foothills below. I took a great photo of Tristan sitting on a rock which I like to think he’ll cherish forever. Again we got to the top with no complaints, moans or grumbles, except from me playing the good role model.

Top of the world

Top of the world

Even though once you’ve reached the top and it’s downhill back this is when accidents can really happen as you are tired. Again I felt slightly worried – in a good way – of having to get my young son safetly back down the mountain. Again Tristan became quite floppy limbed and I held his hand on any sections that were steep or dangerous. I made a mental note to perhaps buy a harness for these tricky bits on the next climbs. We got back to the car at around 7 o’clock. The whole climb had taken 11 hours which is really too long for a climb of this long if we were to successfully complete the next mountains. I will have to do some training with Tristan on faster walking. Three more peaks to go. Onwards and upwards…

Clouds lapping at the lower hills like a white ocean..

Clouds lapping at the lower hills like a white ocean..

Silly antics

Silly antics

Across the stream we go...

Across the stream we go…

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