|Ontario Peak trailhead at Icehouse Saddle.|
With three liters of water in my Camelbak, I started up the canyon at 10:45 AM, arriving at Icehouse Saddle by 12:24 PM. The trail made me ascend 2,600 feet in the span of 3.6 miles. Covering this distance took a little longer than usual because I stopped at Columbine Spring to refill my Camelbak plus a 1-liter bottle to simulate conditions for my future C50 attempt. Also, a lingering case of bronchitis had interfered with conditioning, and my weakened body required mini-breaks on the steeper switchbacks before the upper Chapman Trail junction.
After a short break for lunch, I hit the Ontario Peak Trail at 12:38 PM. The path contoured westward along the southern head wall of Icehouse Canyon. This tree-covered, north-facing slope receives little or no direct sunlight and ices up during winter and spring months. While hiking here last January, a patch of ice upset my footing, causing a fall and slide of about twenty feet before a young pine tree rescued me. This time, with no such hazards, I managed to stay upright the entire way.
The trail left Icehouse and rolled over a ridge into Delker Canyon. It then curved around the head of Delker before entering Kelly Camp, having gained a mere 260 feet in a mile.
|At Kelly Camp the main trail continues to the left.|
The springs are straight ahead via the path on the right.
In the midst of mild disappointment, I noticed the remains of an old trail leading north and away from the springs. Suddenly there was an urge to follow this trail, and my disappointment abated. The faint path performed a wide u-turn over Shortcut Ridge, offering impressive views of Telegraph Peak to the north. It mostly disappeared after this point, but perhaps a long time ago had meandered southward to the beginning of Lost Creek, which was completely dry during my surprise visit.
|View of Telegraph Peak from Lost Creek.|
Within sight of the ridgetop junction, I started the 1.4 miles west toward Ontario Peak, saving the eastbound trip to Bighorn for later. The trail passed to the right of several ridge bumps, including 8,688, which is home to many burned trees. After this false peak, views in all directions were spectacular, especially those of Cucamonga Peak standing boldly to the east.
|View of 8,688 and Cucamonga Peak from Ontario Peak.|
A broken sign sat upon some rocks at the Bighorn Peak trailhead. It indicated the trail designation (7W08A) and mileage (3/4). The use path continued along the ridge for approximately 0.8 miles and 420 feet of gain. At 4:10 PM, it unceremoniously petered out at a rock and wood pile. The pile held up an old metal pole next to a single campsite. In January a plastic register canister had been among the rocks, but this time I found nothing.
|Rock pile and metal pole at Bighorn Peak.|
I left Bighorn Peak at 4:13 PM and completed the 2.2 miles back to Icehouse Saddle by 5:03 PM. Running out of daylight, I saved the longer Chapman Trail for next time and returned to the car via Icehouse Canyon, finishing at 6:27 PM.
After hiking 14.8 miles with 4,770 feet of gain, I tried to start my car in the freezing darkness. But after six years of dutiful service, the battery suddenly quit without notice. In neutral I coaxed my Honda Accord slowly downhill to the village, where a good patron of the Lodge restaurant gave me a jump start while explaining how the cold mountain weather hates car batteries.
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