Monday, December 2, 2013

A bighorn, a peak, and a cold night at Kelly.


It was a cold Saturday morning at the Icehouse Canyon parking lot.  Meeting my usual backpacking partners, we chatted, stretched, and feebly attempted to warm-up before starting our hike.

Once we started our hike, we quickly warmed up and soon, shed some of our layers.

We all walked our separate paces and agreed to meet at the Saddle before pushing the last mile to Kelly Camp.  For some people (like me), the switchbacks past Columbine Springs can be a challenge.  Seeing the other hikers above you can be an intimidating sight.

Once we reached the saddle, we encountered the first signs of snow.  We decide to rest for a few before pushing to Kelly Camp. We had some time to burn and we weren't all in a rush to get to camp.  Shortly after our break, I put on my spikes - the trail to our planned destination was mostly iced up and I didn't want to take the chance of an accidental spill.

We all made quick work on the last mile to camp.  We find our spots and set up shop for the night.

Shortly after arriving at camp, we were all treated to a rare sight.  A lone Bighorn comes down 200 yards from where we were and walks past us.  What an amazing treat!

After sitting at camp for a few, I check my topo and decided to push for Ontario Peak.  Seeing how I was so close to it, I might as well bag the darn thing.  My buddy "New Zealand" joined me on this trek but quickly lost him...he's an extremely fast hiker and I typically take my sweet ol' time on ascents.

The views on the way up were magnificent and I couldn't help but stop just so I can take a snapshot of the endless views.

Made it to the peak at 4 PM and realized that I took too much time.  The sun was slowly setting and the clouds above looked like it could rain again.  I only spent 5 minutes at the peak...took a short video and didn't even bother looking for the bottle opener that was on a tree.  I had to quickly make it down from the peak at this point.  "New Zealand" was already on his way down when I was approaching the peak.

Despite the sun going down, I couldn't pass up not taking photographs of the amazing alpine glow.

It felt amazing to be up there...especially since I had the mountain all to myself.  After snapping a few more photographs, I make quick work of the trail and make it back to camp in under an hour.

Since a campfire is not allowed in the Cucamonga Wilderness, we drink as many warm drinks as we could to warm up.  It was a beautiful evening...a few clouds and a few stars.  Not wanting to stay out in the cold, we all call it a night and warm up in our tents.

Once in a while, I am treated to a good night's sleep in the woods...this is one of those nights.  The combination of switchbacks, bagging a peak, and a few shots of Brandy all contribute to a restful night.

The following morning, we all wake and oatmeal, a breakfast staple for us backpackers.  Fully awake, we pack up and head back down to our cars.

Another adventure done and another peak scratched-off the list.  Till the next adventure...see you on the trails.


  1. Looks like a great time. The big horn pics are awesome.

    1. Thanks Dean...had a great time and seeing the bighorn was a definite treat!