9.5 miles, approximately 1,750’ elevation gain, 6 hour duration, rated Hard
After almost a mile through a lovely oak grove and among boulders, I began a trek through heavy brush. After awhile I decided to check my GPS. I hadn’t before as it seemed like a nice trail and it was no problem following it- only to discover to my dismay that I was way off course and on a totally different trail! Rather than double back. I decided to go from the planned medium length difficult hike graduating to a very long difficult hike.
At the top of the map of my newly planned loop- I had been hiking 2.5 hours mostly descending in altitude, so now it is going to be a long arduous climb to San Mateo Peak, and on a trail that is now more like animal path.
Turns out my mistake was that there was a obscured trail that fed into the track near the registration box. It came in at an angle such that it wasn’t easy to see and there wasn’t any marker to identify it. So I didn’t check my GPS until way down the trail, since it seemed pretty straightforward. Obviously not. It’s all good- as I enjoyed my 2.5 times more hike. I got to see a lot more country, and got a lot more exercise. My travels took me on a journey through more varied terrain, and thus I experienced a lot more adventure, and a lot more balance was being pursued, lol.
It is a great area, the San Mateo Canyon Wilderness. I love the oak grove section, and the sprinkled boulders throughout the hilly chaparral covered countryside is amazing. When I was on top of the peak I took a moment to admire the views that spilled out before me. But only a moment mind you, as the winds were howling at about Gale Force with the possibility of Hurricane Force gusts. Checkout my video. On top of that there was a rain storm coming in faster than expected so taking a longer than anticipated hike meant that I really needed to hoof it back to my car.
It’s just all in a days work for an Adventure Blogger when you find yourself ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’.
‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’ what a lovely phrase… My gosh be sure to LIKE, COMMENT, FOLLOW and SHARE. That is the life blood of a blogger and there are so many more adventures to come. PBTA Inland Empire Hiking is but one of my blogs if you go to the menu you will see there are many places from which to choose your own adventure. Each location is a separate website and thus needs to be FOLLOWED independently. Come on outside, get your boots a little dirty! If you like my shirt then please go to SHOP APPAREL my adventure wear is not only top quality, but it carries the mantra to bring everything into balance, so spread the word from the mountain tops, to the deep canyons.
9.5 miles, elevation change 3336’, 7 hour duration, rated Hard
This is a special area and a special hike. Things you need to know to start with is that you will need to come early. Although the parking area is a good size it will fill up on the weekends, as the Icehouse Canyon Trail is a starting point for numerous hikes. You will need an Adventure Pass for parking. A Wilderness Permit is required and you can get the permit right at the trailhead.
The adventure begins with a mild walk through a shady canyon, the sound of the babbling brook sets the mind at ease. The area is filled with a mixture of oak, conifer, and deciduous trees. As I ambled along the easy path there were a couple cabins and ruins of others lost to either fire or flood in years gone by. The chilly air was fragrant with the scent of fallen decaying leaves that carpeted the forest floor. The surrounding ridge was alight with a golden glow as the morning sun has just reached it upon rising over the mountain. After a couple miles the trek picks up the pace from mild to difficult through switchback trail the remainder of the hike to Icehouse Saddle.
I have a post on my blog ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’ Hiking and Backpacking 101 regarding Layering Your Clothing. This outing was an excellent example. My early hike began in cold temperatures, but by the time I headed up the steep switchbacks I was stripping off outer layers, but as I got higher I was more exposed to the high winds and I needed to layer up once again.
In late November there were portions of the trail covered in snow and ice. Not quite enough to need micro spikes as trekking poles and a little careful footwork would allow you to traverse these spots. If however you were going on to Ontario Peak or Cucamonga Peak, which would take you to more shaded parts of the mountains, they were still covered with snow from an earlier storm.
I had planned to just hike to the Icehouse Saddle, however once there I decided that there wasn’t much of a view at this wide spot that was heavily forested with fir, and I wasn’t quite ready for my adventure to come to an end. The Saddle is where five trails come together and I decided forge on to Timber Mountain.
As I approached the summit of Timber Mountain I had a wonderful panorama of the mountains to including Mt Baldy. I also enjoyed splendid views of the canyon as the wind whipped up through them chapping my lips. A magnificent area and a great hike to be sure. I will be back for some of the other hikes in this area.
What a day! It pretty much checked all the boxes as far as ‘Pursing Balance Through Adventure’. The fresh mountain air, stretching the legs, getting the heart pumping, gaining altitude attitude, getting away from it all, natural scenic beauty and panoramic views, the adventure of a hard hike, add a little snow and ice for a little extra something, solo time to reflect, soul soaring to be sure. I certainly feel a little more balance seep into my life after such an outing in nature, but it is not about the destination. It’s not about bagging that Peak and standing atop that summit posing with that sign, but the trek up and down that mountain, and to looking forward to that next adventure. Speaking of next adventure- stick with me there is more to come because it’s what? A journey, a pursuit for additional chances to balance that ledger of the everyday hetic, chaotic, sometimes mundane, work-a-day life with bold experiences in the great outdoors. Stick with me by doing each and everyone of these things: COMMENT, LIKE, FOLLOW and SHARE. You can join the movement, wave the flag, and carry the banner by adorning yourself in ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’ wear. Just go to SHOP APPAREL where you can find the long sleeve high performance shirt and beanie pictured in my summit shot and oh so much more. If you need ideas or inspiration on your own pursuit then go to the menu above where you will find the spots that PBTA travels to seeking that inner peace and to revel in nature. Each location is a separate website and thus needs to be FOLLOWED independently.
Distance: Approximately 8 miles, altitude 3661’, prominence 1,781’, 2,168’ elevation gain, duration 7 hours, rated Hard
Date: March 4-5, 2020
While not particularly high in elevation at 3,661 feet above sea level it is all about the prominence with Peak Baggers. That is why the few, the adventurous, the Peak Baggers are interested in this location. Otherwise it is a lonely, desolate, rugged place and there is nothing particularly fun about the trek, and there is no reason anyone would climb Soda Mountain other than because it is there, and the ‘Prom Factor’.
A position of exalted widely recognized grandeur.
A natural land elevation that stands out above it’s surroundings.
The vertical distance from which the summit rises above the lowest point between two summits.
In many ways prominence, as an alternate measurement of a peak or mountain, is more interesting than it’s elevation.
I joined Hall of Fame Peak Bagger Keith Christensen once again seeking some life balance in this otherwise crazy mixed up world, in other words we found ourselves ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’ in the Mohave Desert. This was day two of our excursion and I invite you to checkout day one: Cave Mountain. After completing our quest to stand atop Cave Mountain we headed toward Soda Mountains. It required some 4 wheeling to get to the wash that would serve as the closest thing to a trailhead. Hint there is no trailhead in the middle of the frick’n desert when you are hiking an area no one would go to, to climb a craggy, jagged, rocky mountain that no one would climb… no one except a Peak Bagger. I will tell you what, on these desolate desert peaks there are only a few peak baggers there a year. So when you stand on top of Soda Mountain, you are one of a small number that has ever set foot there, which of course is part of the allure. Peak Baggers aren’t here to recreate they are here for the hard-core.
After a backpacking dinner, we enjoyed the twilight and the silhouette of the mountains against the ever darkening desert sky, and then called it a night to get an early start in the morning.
It was a cool morning, but with the rising sun it was quickly warming up. We headed out along about 3 miles of sandy wash and canyon area that had many twists and turns to it such that we really did not get a look at our objective until we were right before it.
Now we would be picking a route, looking for a way up, ascending the steep incline of broken rock. During the climb my foot became trapped between a proverbial, and I assure you quite literal, rock and a hard place. It was only all those workouts I have been doing that kept me from a full face plant as I caught myself in a push up position with my nose to the grind stone.
In a section where we were doing a bit of scrambling Keith surprised a large lizard about the size of a chipmunk, which is exactly what I though it was at first. The fleeing reptile was headed right at my face until he saw me and ducked into the rocks. We think it was a Chuckwalla, but there are Gila Monsters in the Mohave as well.
Hands worked, bloody shin, tired feet and all I arrived at the summit with a smile. While I surveyed the desert scene from aloft Keith checked out the register in an old can to see how many names he might recognize.
The view from the summit was quite amazing with a pretty diverse landscape. On one side was canyon with pale colors, in another direction black mountains rising out of golden sand, and yet another mocha chocolate hills. After a snack, a drink, and a little reflection it was time to head down.
As I carefully picked my way down the rocky slope I became separated from Keith who with a quicker pace had dropped down out of sight, and had taken a right under a large rock outcropping. Not seeing this I continued down the chute. I whistled to find his location, but heard no response. I was thinking he can’t be that far ahead, but he had wrapped around more to the right as I was still going down the chute. After signaling every so often I finally hear a hoot and after awhile we reconnect. He had not heard my previous whistles. There was a point that I thought I would be hiking back to Keith’s Jeep alone.
One side note that I will mention about this outing was that it took place just before that Covid-19 Pandemic Crisis. After 2 or 3 months had gone by I went to Keith Christensen’s Peak Bagger Page to see if he had continued to bag peaks since I had last seen him. While I had continued to go on hikes and even a little peak bagging I saw that Keith had not slowed down one iota. During this time frame he had bagged almost 60 more peaks. That is simply amazing.
This type of an adventure is pretty amazing and rather unique. Not your everyday trek, which makes it pretty cool, and hiking with my Hobie Cat Champion sailing friend, Keith Christensen, who just happens to take part in this craziness of Peak Bagging, and at a very high level I might add, is always an adventure! Thanks for joining us ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’ while peak bagging hidden away desert mountains. Take a moment and LIKE, COMMENT, FOLLOW, and SHARE. You may or may not be excited about Peak Bagging in the middle of the frick’n desert, but I am positive you can find a hike that will get you off the couch with all of the locales that PBTA ventures to- just review the menu above. Each location is a separate website and thus needs to be FOLLOWED independently. Checkout my cap in the picture. Like it? Want one? Click here: SHOP APPAREL.
Happy Trails, (Well in this case there was no trail, but you catch my drift…)