Last night, I took a 12 mile round trip hike with 4,000ft of elevation gain to eat dinner at the summit of Cucamonga Peak. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a while, but I got so caught up with planning and training for the John Muir Trail that I never made it happen. I think it would be cool to do a monthly or bi-monthly Saturday or Sunday summit dinner where people can show up and have a meal with a view. I did this one by myself, but maybe I’ll be able to recruit a few more people next time.
I started hiking from the Icehouse Canyon trail head at about 3:30 and hiked at a pretty quick pace to cover the 6 miles to the 8,858ft summit. Much like my Saturday hike, my mind was mostly occupied by my recuperating ankle. The pessimistic side of me is always worried that the pain will flare back up, and I’ll have to take another month off. Luckily, that pain never came. Just like my hike up Mt. Baldy, I was pain free and moving happily.
I reached the summit sometime around 6, and took out my camera to take a few pics before setting up for dinner. I met two guys near the lookout rock, and talked about hiking and local trails for a while. We took a few pics of each other and then they made their way downhill. It was now just me, the mountain, and the views of the Inland Empire.
I set up my dinner spread atop the lookout rock, which consisted of a Jet Boil Flash, Mountain House Chicken Teriyaki dehydrated meal, and a PROBAR. I got the water boiling and took a few more pictures of the gorgeous evening views.
I ate my dinner, hydrated, and took a few more tripod shots before deciding to head down. As we approach Fall, the days are becoming noticeable shorter. My watch told me the sun would be setting at 7:20, but due to the way this trail cuts around peaks, I knew the light would be dwindling fast. I packed up my bag, and out my headlamp on, so I wouldn’t have to fiddle around finding it later.
The trail started to get dark pretty quickly as I made my descent down Cucamonga Peak. The sun was just beginning to disappear behind Ontario Peak as I made my way to the Cucamonga saddle beneath Bighorn Peak. A marine layer was blowing in from the Pacific Ocean, and it look like a spectacular sunset was in the cards. I knew I was going to miss the most of it as I lost elevation and access to views behind the towering peaks.
I continued on and made pretty good timing to the Icehouse Saddle. I could see North towards the high desert. The reds and oranges being cast on the desert landscape were incredible. It wasn’t long before those beams of light were shooting straight at me. I stayed there at the Saddle and waited for the sun to disappear. I thought I was alone on the trail at this point, but I realized there was a guy at the saddle enjoying the sunset alongside me. His name was Bob, and his training to hike Mt Whitney in September.
The rest of the hike was in the darkness of night and the cover of Icehouse Canyon. Even though the moon was shining bright somewhere, it’s light was not reaching us. It made for a fun experience, as I’ve never hiked this trail in the dark before.
I made it back to my car just shy of 9 PM to close out my Sunday dinner hike. Hopefully I’ll be getting a lot more of these in before the cold of Fall settles upon us.