I have been hiking a lot of hills and dales recently but very few mountains. Well, that changed in a hurry as I joined up with the Sierra Club to hike Timber Mountain in the Angeles National Forest. To say it was a thrill to make the summit was an understatement and to do it with a great group of people was a double bonus.
We met up at the ungodly hour of 7:30am on a Saturday in the Baldy ride share parking lot which was already jammed with people and cars looking to live life to the max apparently. I met up with a Sierra Club group that was a leading a training hike for my upcoming Wilderness Travel Course. The group had a lot of people who had done the WTC and helped answer questions from us newbies as they led us to the summit.
I haven't hiked much with people this year but I was glad for the company, everyone was super nice and great hiking companions, more on that later.
We then went up into the mountains and to Mt. Baldy Village to pick up our wilderness passes (since the Icehouse Canyon trail to Timber goes through the Cucamonga Wilderness, the Forest Service is now requiring that you pick up free wilderness permits). The Village is pretty darn "cute" and will require many future visits from me. Finally, we hit the Icehouse trailhead and Fall was in the air.
The trail starts off slowly gaining elevation for the first 1.5 miles and passes by many private and Forest Service cabins. Some cabins have a tree problem.
The trail follows a stream which despite the lack of snowfall from the previous year was still running ok this late in October and made for some beautiful views.
After about 1.5 miles, you reach the Cucamonga Wilderness
which starts the real incline for the trip. To get to Timber Mountain, you have to gain about 3,400 feet in 4.5 miles, most of which starts in the Cucamonga.
However, the gain in elevation means that you are also gaining in views. There are lots and lots of switchbacks but the up side (if there can be an up side to switchbacks) is that they let you look down canyon and the awesome views of the Angeles.
As for the trails themselves, it is pretty much a single track, whether walking through boulder/scree fields
or up in the higher elevations
The Forest Service does a great job maintaining the trail, which is also helped by the numerous people wearing down the trail (seriously, this was a popular trail, people everywhere, especially in groups [I mean our group was 7 people but there were many, many groups to be had on this trail]).
When you get to the spring, that is your last source of water and also the sign the switchbacks are starting in earnest.
(since this was a WTC led hike, lots of wilderness skills were on display including my guy Thanh filtering water)
I don't want to oversell the trail, it is hard but it is manageable, but making it to the saddle is a major accomplishment, which is what most people aim for on this trail.
As you can see, the saddle was hopping. Its about 3.6 miles from the trailhead and your break is well earned at this point. Our group also decided to take a breather and rest up for the big push to Timber.
Why, ADKinLA, is it a "big" push when the sign says it is only .9 miles from the saddle?
Well my friends, its because you gain about 1,000 feet in that last .9 miles and while the switchbacks are gentle you will have to gain that elevation and gain it you will.
We did make it to the summit and let me tell you, I was beaming ear to ear. It was the highest elevation I have personally hiked to, it was probably the most elevation I have gained in that short a mileage and I was just super psyched at the awesome views from the summit. Whatever adrenalin you get when doing an activity, I had a ton of it on the actual summit.
(Baldy in the distance)
(my fav the Antelope Valley from a real distance)
The hike down went MUCH faster than the hike up (big surprise) and the overall hike time was about 6ish hours.
I was pleased as punch about how this hike went and now super excited for my upcoming WTC class (which of course will be blogged about extensively here). To be able to gain a real-deal-Holyfield summit with a great group of people with lots of pine trees and views, well, I couldn't have asked for a nicer day in the wilderness. If your legs are up to it, do yourself some Timber Mountain!
A great trip report with topo map: http://www.simpsoncity.com/