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Peak 3 of 6: Cucamonga Peak

Peak three of six had me second-guessing that I was actually still in Southern California…

Beautiful redwoods dwarf any palm tree.

Beautiful redwoods dwarf any palm tree.

Taking in all the hobbit potential...

Taking in all the hobbit potential…

The Hike: By far one of my most favorited hikes during this challenge. For the first 2.6 miles, you’ll be hiking the Icehouse Canyon Trail, which features beautiful lush foliage alongside a rushing creek. There are also cabins and cairns to ogle at, which make this place look like anything but Southern California. Eventually you’ll make it to a rock quarry-looking area where you can observe very interesting geological rock formations. But don’t get too distracted—it’s easy to lose the trail. Veer towards the right in this quarry-like setting and you’ll come to the 2.5 miles to of the first chunk of the trail, which takes you through more exposeswitchbacks and eventually to the “Icehouse Saddle.” It is during this portion of the hike where you will climb the most elevation as the saddle puts you at about 7,600 feet.

Once you get to the saddle, you can go one of three different routes. I completely geeked out because not only could I see a beautiful forest view into the valley, but I also found more trails/mountains to hike.

Signage will point you straight onwards for another 2.4 miles towards Cucamonga Peak. This trail has a lot of loose gravel, and due to frequent landslides, the gravel often covers up the tiny trail itself. This makes things slippery, so proceed with caution.
And just like this hike description, when you think it’s never going to end, it does. And the view of the inland empire and Apple Valley is spectacular. If there are clouds around, they tend to make your photos look pretty damn cool, too.

Driving Directions: From the 210 east towards San Bernardino, exit Base Line Drive, make a right onto Pahua Drive and a right onto Mount Baldy Road. The trailhead is located at the end of Mt. Baldy Road, and there is a lot for those who have Adventure or National Park passes. You can also park alongside the road without any ticketing consequences.

Back in the day, California was filled with volcanoes...still was a hot place to be. ha! I'm here all night.

Back in the day, California was filled with volcanoes…still was a hot place to be. ha! I’m here all night.

You'd walk right past it and never give it a second thought, but don't forget to check out the old gold mines.

You’d walk right past it and never give it a second thought, but don’t forget to check out the old gold mines.

Roundtrip mileage: 15 miles, 8 hours

Elevation: 8,859 feet

Elevation gain: 4,000 feet

What to bring: Water, snacks, hat, sunscreen, phone/camera, Adventure Pass

Consider this: There are so many cools sights to see along this trail that you tend to forget to sip your water. Cabins, cairns and igneous rocks can easily distractify, but don’t forget to do a sanity check lest your lungs do it for you. Also, be sure to look for the old gold mines along the trail. There’s no signs that point them out, they’re just kind of chillin’, so be on the lookout. If you’re heading toward the peak, they are on your right…because to your left is a straight 1,000 foot drop.

 

 

Peak 2 of 6: Sitton Peak

Peak two of six made me consider bug spray! Just when I thought it was safe to wear shorts and a tank top…

The scrubby trail to Sitton Peak.

The scrubby trail to Sitton Peak.

The Hike: A local peak always sounds great, right? Find the Bear Canyon trailhead located behind the old -fashioned Candy Store off Ortega Highway. It’s easy to miss this trailhead, so if the store is open, there’s no shame in asking about the trail location. The store also offers free printed maps. This trail requires a wilderness permit, which is often available at the trailhead to fill out. If not, bring a pen and paper and leave your info in the box.
The hike begins at a moderate pace and is lined with brush and large boulders. It meanders over a creek where there are plenty of trees for shade, although there isn’t much shade elsewhere on the trail. Since there are some areas that appear to be overgrown, I was getting mountain lion vibes, which reinvigorated my machete desires. Since I was sans machete, I sang Yankee Doodle very loudly and made lots of noise as well as carried a walking stick and a rock.

The last portion to the peak is almost a literal climb. At first, it didn’t even appear to be an actual trail since it was pretty steep and looked washed out, but it is and your calves will thank you for the luscious workout.
I started around 10:00am, made it to the peak by just before 1:00pm and back to my car at 3:00pm. Why so fast? Two words: The bugs.

Simply titled Candy Store and Goods off the 74-Ortega Highway. Park across the street.

Simply titled Candy Store and Goods off the 74-Ortega Highway. Park across the street.

Driving Directions: hop on the 5 freeway and exit Ortega Highway (Hwy 74), head towards Lake Elsinore and keep going until you see “Candy Store and Goods.” Park in the national parks parking lot across the street from the store and either pay for parking or display your Adventure Pass. Carefully walk across the street.

Parking: located across the street from the candy store–no parking at the candy store

Roundtrip mileage: 12 miles, 5.5 hours*

Elevation: 3,273 feet

Elevation gain: 2,150 feet

Not sure how I made it without going insane, but I made it!

Not sure how I made it without going insane, but I made it!

What to bring: Adventure Pass, POWERFUL BUG REPELLENT that doesn’t give you cancer, lots of water depending on the air temperature, food, hiking stick, some form of mountain lion defense, courage

Consider this: The bugs are absolutely relentless. If I stopped for longer than 2 minutes, those suckers were on me like, well, flies on meat…that was sweating…because my dumb ass decided to start my hike at 10:00 a.m. Both factors made the hike less enjoyable. For almost the entirety of the hike, I was eaten alive by mosquitoes and horseflies. Have you ever been bitten by a horsefly? They SUCK! And leave big red welts that take too long to go away. The first part of this hike is shrouded in foliage, trees, rocks…lovely vantage points for mountain lions to sneak up on you. I didn’t see any, but it was definitely on my mind since I had a run-in with one 10 years ago in Carbon Canyon.

 

Taking in the views of the Cleveland National Forest.

Taking in the views of the Cleveland National Forest.

Sponsor-less? Derek Peters Takes Care of Business

I’m sure after the four days this video went live on Surfing Magazine’s web site, Southern Californian ripper Derek Peters has since received numerous contacts from sponsors of all caliber. And if he hasn’t, I’ve lost faith in the surf industry.

What To Do When It’s Flat

Flat but pretty view of Dana Point.

Flat but pretty view of Dana Point.

The dog days of summer are almost over and soon enough the groms will be back in school and hopefully some form of swell will grace our coastline. Until then, we have minimal surf in Socal waters and I don’t know about you, but I’m slowly going crazy.

Some say this has been the longest flat spell we’ve had in years. Coupled with unseasonably cooler water temps and no significant swell on the horizon, it’s a recipe that can spurt either craziness or creativeness among surfers.
 So step back from that ledge and listen up! Here are a couple of ways to stay out of the loony bin during a torturous flat period:

1.) Stay in shape!
A lot of methods can fall under this category and if you don’t have the  budget to travel in search of swell, it’s always good to keep that bod toned for the next swell that WILL show up soon. Go for a hike or run, take up a new activity like paddleboarding or join a bootcamp. Go on a snorkel adventure, swim laps, pump iron. Even if it’s just 20 minutes a day, staying physically active is an important part of any daily routine. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, exercise improves your mood and relieves symptoms of depression and anxiety along with a bunch of other benefits like warding off diabetes and improving cognitive function. So the square root of Pi is….? By keeping yourself active in between summer flat spells, you’re already a step ahead of the gang physically and mentally.
Stand Up Paddleboarder Nick Lanfranco stays in shape during a severe wave drought.

Stand Up Paddleboarder Nick Lanfranco stays in shape during a severe wave drought.

2.) Fix Up Your Stick
Every board could always used a new wax job and a ding check. Try not to cry too much when you recall epic days as you scrape that wintertime wax coat off. Be assured you will be riding some waves soon enough. Go the extra mile and buy some wax remover and make that board shine like a new penny! You might find dings that are causing your board to take on water. Repair them! There are a thousand different ways to repair surfboard dings and I’m certainly no master. But if you need ‘Surfboard Ding Repair 101,’ here’s a decent vid. Who knows? You might be thankful this flat spell happened before your board “randomly” decided to de-lam.
3.) Go on an adventure!
No swell in your neck of the woods? Maybe it’s time to take a day or weekend trip to a road less traveled. Get out of the bubble and find a spot that might have a little more exposure to swell. Bring a longboard or a fish and a couple friends. Make the most of it and stop a local restaurant or farmer’s market for lunch, crack jokes, share music or talk story. Even if you don’t score surf, know that you had some good times with friends and you experienced a new place.
There are all kinds of fun activities to do when there is no surf!

There are all kinds of fun activities to do when there is no surf!

4.) Take a deep breath and don’t go insane
No matter which side of the coast you claim, flat spells can happen to the best of us. Distract yourself from slowly going crazy with activities and hobbies. Remember to take deep breaths. Ain’t no shame in snorkeling or body surfing shore break. Get out there and appreciate Mother Ocean for the other forms of oceanic entertainment she provides.