Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Hike 86: Ontario Peak

Hiked Monday, September 13. 12.2 miles and 3,577 vertical feet, according to the USFS handout. Although this hike is supposed to be about 1/4 mile longer each way than going to Cucamonga Peak, it's much easier. Partially, it's because Ontario is 200 feet lower than Cucamonga. Mainly, it's because there's a pretty substantial loss of altitude on the way from Ice House Saddle to Cucamonga, so you heed to gain several hundred feet twice.

I left home around 9am, picked up my Wilderness Pass in Mt. Baldy Village, and so got to the trailhead a little before 10am. I spent some time at the summit before checking my watch (2:18pm), so I would estimate it took me about 4 hours and 10 minutes to get to the top. I got back to the car some time after 5pm, so it was a little under 3 hours to get back.

The trail is generally well-traveled and well-marked, except when you get to Kelly Camp. There, the trail splits, with one part going straight and one part heading sharply to the left. The junction is not signed, I went left because that branch seemed more heavily traveled, and it turned out I was right.

From Kelly's Camp, the trail climbs steeply to the south. It dodges many downed trees before reaching a saddle. (There are a LOT of dead trees on this trail, many standing but some downed--victims of bark beetle, I think). A board sitting on rocks indicates it's about 1 mile to the right to Ontario, or 3/4 mile to the left for Big Horn Peak. Conversely, someone scratched longer distances to both on the sign. I don't know which is correct, but suffice to say that it was about 40 minutes for me to get from the sign to the summit, and I wasn't moving very quickly.

It was relatively clear when I got to the summit. Traces of the marine layer obscured some of the view to the south, but the airport was huge and obvious, almost exactly due south from the summit. Downtown LA was visible but small and way off to the west. Mt Wilson's towers were small but distinct, to the west-northwest. Mt San Jacinto was far off to the east. Baldy was much closer and to the northwest.

I did not see a summit register. But there is a bottle opener affixed to the dead tree near the summit, so I suppose if you decided to bring a cold drink that required a bottle opener, you'd be all set for that.

Late in the season, so not many flowers blooming. The yellow variety I have pictured was the only relatively common one, and the bees, wasps, and flies were all over them, so I get the feeling there weren't many other choices. There were also plenty of gooseberries, the result of those plants having bloomed months before.

Given the unseasonably cool weather of recent weeks, I may even be able to try the Mt. Baldy Trail approach to Mt. Baldy.

I did learn something about my new boots: When going downhill, my feet slide forward, stuffing my toes into the front. That was a little uncomfortable. Also, with the toes up front, if you kick a large rock, it'll hurt, even with the boots on.

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