Wednesday, October 10

Three T's Backpacking Trip - San Gabriel Mts

Pulling up to the Icehouse Canyon parking lot, we could tell we were late for class... Packed to the brim & beyond with cars. Not uncommon though, especially if you've ever been to Chantry on the weekend. Hoisting our packs, we did some road walking to get to the trailhead & set off in high spirits towards Icehouse Saddle. Our goal for this "boys" trip was to try a new trail (to us) that qualified as a more strenuous hike, as well as call our own shots for where to camp, a bit more "thru-hiking" style. The Three T's Trail will take us to three different mountain peaks that all begin with the letter T... and they all require to go down before up.

| Hiking up Icehouse Canyon |

Heading up Icehouse is such a picturesque canyon at times (other times over used), dotted with cabins from the 1920s along the first couple miles. The name derives from early Los Angelenos using the canyon to produce ice, the positioning allows for the snow to last long in this area. After a couple miles & a 1,000 feet up, we came to Columbine Spring, flowing straight out of the mountain, this was out time to fill up b/c there would be no water till tomorrow when we finished our hike. We were only 2 miles in to 10 miles our trip was looking to be. Hoisting our packs once again, the weight of roughly 6 liters was very apparent.

The spring is also conveniently located at the beginning of the steepest part of the trail. So, up & up we went, covering 2,260 ft of elevation gain, to the saddle (3.6 miles). Affording a nice break & a chat with many different hikers that always tend to congregate at Icehouse Saddle (if we were still using the high school analogy from the beginning, the saddle = the cool kids lunch spot). Lots of people wanted to know where were going & would follow with, "are you staying our here tonight?!"

| Looking down Icehouse Canyon |

Collecting our things, hoisting our packs & getting a traditional trail group photo, we moved on towards our first peak, Timber Mountain. The crowds thinned out as we headed along the sides, switch-backing up, slowly gain grander views of the canyon we just hike through. Topping out on a western flank of Timber, we spotted a spur trail that was a half mile round trip to the summit. Dropping our packs, Collin man-ed up & carried his in case of good camping, we climbed to the summit of Timber Mt.

| Carlos on Timber Summit - 8,303ft |

Getting a chance to scout tomorrow's route & also evaluating if we should press on to find camp or stay on the flank near the spur trail junction. Opting to stay put & camp on the rounded flank of Timber Mt, sort of near the spur trail junction.

| Camping looking out towards Telegraph Wash |

This post seems to be getting lengthy already and the sun hasn't even set on the first day... I would say the photographs & the video will do the evening justice. The views were spectacular all around, there was nice shelter from the wind & a beautiful morning to wake up to the next day. 

Packed our gear, took some photos, ate a hearty breakfast & we were off towards our next peak. The trail down to the saddle after Timber was easy as could be without a single other person in sight. However, we were constantly reminded of the test that lay before us, the trail continuing up to Telegraph Peak.

| Collin & Carlos looking to the West |
Beginning a bit tough & through some overgrown shrubs, the trail climbs quick, slowly becoming a better graded adventure after a mile or so. Part way through our uphill climb I wished I had began to count to switchbacks going up this darn mountain! Alas, I didnt even heed my own advice b/c if I had begun counting even half way through the trip it still would have amounted to over 20 I imagine, only part way up... maybe closer to 35 total? Below is a picture of the task ahead, Telegraph Peak being the furthest in the back right.

| Telegraph Peak, back right |

The wind was a constant companion that breathed new life into us as we snaked up the mountain, popping out at time to get craggy views of Telegraph Wash. Finding another spur trail with a round trip of a half mile to the actual peak... the standard ensued, drop packs & hustle to bag another peak. Quite easily one of the best summits I have stood on in the San Gabriels. One could count more than ten peaks in the area that are all glowing in monumental triumph. Before leaving our roost on Telegraph, we scouted our route to the next peak, opting to try & climb straight from the next saddle up to Thunder Peak. Normally the trail takes a nice loop around the whole summit & doesnt actually touch the peak.

| Looking towards Bighhorn Peak & Coucamonga Peak. Do you see Collin? |

Signing into the Telegraph Peak register, we hustled back, hoisted our packs & set off down hill towards the next peak, with two in the bag. At this point we crossed our first people since the day before, coming from the Baldy Lodge direction. This portion of the trail is really well graded and a nice hike in either direction. 

| On Telegraph Peak - Lt to Rt: West Baldy, San Antonio Mt, Mt Harwood, Pine Mt |

Arriving at the saddle, Telegraph Peak looked to be a behemoth of a summit from here, but nothing compared to the way we came from. The wind howled in the confluence of the canyon, cooling all of us to the core. 

| Mt. Baldy early morning |

Sticking to the off trail climb, we made our way slowly, designing our own switch back pattern up the backside of Timber Mountain. After a few good rests & some steep walking, we arrived at the ski boundary 50 yards shy of the summit we were aiming for. A good timed photo of Collin, Carlos, and I bagging our third peak for the trip!

| Hiking up to Telegraph from Timber Mt |

We have now crossed into the Baldy region of the San Gabriels. In the winter it becomes a ski resort & our goal was to walk the dry ski runs down to the lodge that operates on the weekend for hikers. Doesn't sound too challenging right? Well, not the case. Day hiking isn't too bad, but after two days, three summits & over-night gear on your back, the rock strew wide open gulleys are a twisted ankle waiting to happen every step. With toes cramping from the downhill we strolled into the Baldy Lodge ready for a burger & a beer.

| Down the rock strew ski runs w/ Baldy Lodge in sight |

After feasting, we had two more goals, to take the chair lift down to the parking lot & somehow avoid the many miles of road walking we had to do to get back to our car at the Icehouse Canyon trail head. Fortunately there were many others finishing their day hikes & heading back down the mountain, after a friendly chat with a young newly wed couple, I cracked the question to see if they could take 3 smelly guys down to our car? They were much obliged & we learned they were new to hiking in general & had managed to get a coupon to the "ski lift & lunch" that took them to some of the best views they'd seen! Great times all around in the outdoors.

Is this the last backpacking trip of the year?!?! It's getting kind of chilly.... we'll see.

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