October was a special month for me. I accomplished a few things from my Adventure Bucket List. Starting with my effort to get better with fear of heights.
As I shared in my “Small Victory, Big Milestone” post, I hit a big milestone in my journey to overcome acrophobia. To be clear though, my goal isn’t to get rid of it totally. I don’t need to be fearless. Little fear is good. It keeps you out of danger. I just don’t want it to take over me.
The last time I hiked to Icehouse Saddle was 10 years ago. Jen knew this hike would be a meaningful one for me. It was a test to see how far I’ve come with my progress. I was glad our adventure buddies wanted to come along and be part of it.
I was out to conquer Cucamonga Peak (8,858′) that day. This hike is rated ‘very difficult’ due to its length and an elevation gain of 4,061′ but the real challenge for me was a mental one. Can I reach Icehouse Saddle without an anxiety attack? The steady climb on Icehouse Canyon Trail wasn’t a breeze either. Based on GPS, I knew we were getting close to the saddle. I kept thinking the narrow, steep drop-off had to be just around the corner at each turn. But it turned out negative each time. Without a hiccup, we arrived at Icehouse Saddle after 3.5 miles. The feeling of accomplishment was overwhelming. We cheered and celebrated my progress.
So where was it?? I took this photo on our way down. We think it had to be around here. My memory recalls this trail a lot narrower. It was 10 years ago after all…or was it like this then and I was that bad?!
From the saddle, find this sign and take Cucamonga Peak Trail toward the peak.
Only 2.4 miles to go! But wait, it’s a challenging course to the peak. Take a look at this section of the trail. It was narrower and has a steeper drop-off than the one we passed on Icehouse Canyon Trail. As long as I kept my head down and kept my eyes right in front of my feet even though the urge to look around was strong, I was OK! Such a relief. I also took this photo when we were coming back from the peak. It was a big hike and I needed my hands free for the trekking poles when we were climbing up.
After challenging 2.4 miles of an uphill, especially the last 0.25 mile or so, we reached Cucamonga Peak. The view was incredible. It was totally worth the effort.
Our pups liked it too.
We took a lunch break and enjoyed the views from the top. For the 2nd half of the hike, Xena got her boots on. She is more confident with her steps when she has booties on. She becomes more playful too. Hmm… I foresee a future post.
When we got back down to Icehouse Canyon, we walked down to the creek and wandered a bit. Although the 12th mile seemed never-ending and our legs felt a bit wobbly after the big climb, the leaves began to change and it was just too beautiful to pass.
When we got to the car, Xena plopped herself down next to the car. “Good job, Z! I am proud of you!”, I told her. I can tell she was exhausted because her body gently trembled. I gave her a coconut water mixture for potassium and electrolytes then gave her dinner. She finished it practically in one breath, which isn’t anything new, and looked satisfied. I helped her into the car and noticed her body already stop shaking. Her eyes fought to stay up from the back seat but I knew that was a lost battle. She drifted off to a sweet dreamland soon after I pulled out of the parking lot.
Good to Know:
- Hike Date: 10.2.17
- Distance: 12 miles RT
- Elevation Gain: 4,061′ (1,238 m)
- Cucamonga Peak sits at 8,862 feet (2,701 m)
- Difficulty Rating: Very Difficult
- Trailhead: Icehouse Canyon Trailhead (34.250142, -117.636244)
- Vault toilet available at the trailhead
- Out and back trail