SUGARLOAF PEAK 6924 ( A tall cone with a rounded top)

1123

Sugarloaf Peak

Adequately named, as every rounded peak should be called a sugar loaf. That being said, this is the only peak known around these parts with that title. There’s nothing special about looking like a hill among mountains, but then again, this is clearly a case for the tip of the iceberg, however big or small. The time was October 16th, 2011 and my first attempt at climbing this hill. This would turn out to be an adventure of a different kind, but an adventure nonetheless.

OFF THE BEATEN PATH

Ice House Canyon lends its healthy ecosystem to an ever flowing stream that provides a wealth of fauna and wildlife. There’s so much in way of exploring along the waterways and trails that take you through and out of the canyon. One such adventure begins half a mile or so from the ice house canyon trailhead, where you’ll find a short distinct switchback that starts to ascend to your left. It will be at this juncture where you will leave the trail and head in a southeast direction into the canyon itself.

1018.JPG

1019

There you will come upon a running stream where you’ll make a crossing to continue the hike. You’ll soon notice as you gain higher ground, the build up of large talus and scree that gather at the base of the mountain. What is talus you say? One way to remember is that talus is rock bigger then your fist, and anything smaller then that would be scree. There’s no illusion from where it came from, as you’ll soon come face to face with the obvious.

 

UP, UP AND AWAY

1023.JPG

Falling Rock Canyon

From this point, it’s roughly over a mile up to the peak. Cross country at it’s finest, by San Gabriel standards.

1028 It starts off relatively easy, as you make your way over the talus and scree. Soon you’ll be boulder hopping as you gain elevation, passing dead fall and navigating a route. You just go with the obvious and sometimes you’ll come across a duck marker placed by a previous hiker, showing you the way. If there was ever a name given to characterize this area, falling rock canyon is that perfect name. Trees that once stood have lost purchase on the rocky ground that crumbles beneath it, creating cliffs with overhang ready to fall at any given moment. Every now and then a rock would break loose from above and hurl nearby. Wearing a helmet comes to mind and I probably should carry one in my kit. I did improvised by padding the inside of my cap with bandanas and hoped for the best.

1053.JPG

Bearing down from whence I came, Falling Rock Canyon gets narrow and more challenging with every elevation gain.

CRACKS, GRABS AND HOLDS

1061.JPG

Making my way to the left and making my way to the right, I came across this huge granite slab. The angle was good with plenty of cracks for holds as I muscled and pushed my way up.

ARE YOUR DUCKS IN A ROW?

1080

Duck marker

Of all the duck markers I’ve found on this route, there was one that was a true duck marker. Typically on trail you would find stacked rocks, which actually denotes a cairn. Often times one would think this is what you do, but the proper way is to use one large, one medium and one small stone to build the shape of a duck, with the smaller stone pointing in the desired direction of travel. Cairn markers were built and originally used as landmarks usually found on summits or places of interest.

A RACE TO THE SOUTH

1090.JPG

About the halfway point the sun gave away its position. I could clearly see it through the trees above the canyon. We were both headed south and I used it to pace myself till I got on the ridge to Sugarloaf. It’s a lot of work traveling over rocks on an incline. Very easy to roll an ankle out here. It’s about calculated steps and using your movement efficiently.

1083.JPG

The Baldy Bowl

Looking back to the NW, I was high enough in elevation to see the ridgelines that make up Mount Baldy. It was awe inspiring to say the least and to think that I have climbed that mountain in every season on five different routes is satisfying. Like a lot of us do, we claim that mountain to be our very own and we don’t mind sharing it.

WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH, THE SLOPES GETS STEEPER

1114.JPG

Down below the canopy of trees is Ice House Canyon.

It was at this point that I had to use the aid of sticks to pull myself up the mountain. The loose scree made everything challenging, as I found myself sliding back four feet for every foot of gain. Nothing fancy, just raw determination. With every stab I finally made it off the scree and closer to the top.

1111

Officially out of the canyon and for the most part on level ground, I noticed the scrape on my shin turn into a gash. Nothing that a pair of trousers could have prevented… right? Keeping a close eye, I just decided to air it out. I was a good hundred feet or so from the ridgeline and as I got there, the view to the south opened up. At an elevation of around 6,800 feet, let’s just say it was good to see the sky and what was on the other side of the mountain.

1116.JPG

Bearing down on Sunset Peak at 5,796′ to the SW, just over 3 miles as the crows fly.

It never gets old. That familiar feeling of solitude combined with the visuals that come with elevation hiking.

SUGARLOAF PEAK

1117.JPG

That tall cone with a rounded top, awaits my arrival

1124.JPG

From a false summit you could see a trail on the ridge to Sugarloaf

1132.JPG

Summit register

1133.JPG

As summit registers go, this would have to be the best design to date. A lot of thought went into the construction of this one, with steel rods working as armatures to place between and under rocks. The contents within were the typical notepad and pen. I’ll sometimes cache a little treat or gatorade packet for anyone who may need it.

ABOVE IT ALL

1148.JPG

Not much in way of real estate, but you get the best 360 degree view that a rounded top can offer. Sugarloaf happens to be on the Sierra Club’s 100 peaks list, and at 6,924 feet, it is very formidable.

1143.JPG

To the northeast looms Telegraph Peak 8,985′ and Thunder Mountain 8,587′ to its left. Out of view and to the right of Telegraph is Timber Mtn 8,303′, which together comprises the popular Three T’s trail of the San Gabriels.

1146.JPG

Just slightly southeast from Sugarloaf, separated by Cherry Canyon, is Ontario Peak 8,693,’

ALL GOOD THINGS MUST COME TO AN END

1149.JPG

Looking down at the ridge trail from Sugarloaf

If you could make the day longer, how many hours would be good enough for you? How long can a good time last? Unfortunately, there are bad days as well, and we all know how quickly we want them to end. Well, I was having a good day, and the balance here is the moment. Just as it was an adventure getting here, it doubles the pleasure getting back.

1151.JPG

Bearing down on the road to Manker Flats of Mt Baldy fame.

1154.JPG

You can just make out a trail to the right of this photo, that would be the ridgeline. The slope going down off that ridge will take you to Falling Rock Canyon.

IT’S SCREE SEASON

1161.JPG

It’s rare that you can find an opportunity to scree ski several hundred feet. The scree has to be fine and consistent to ensure a smooth glide. At an angle of 50 degrees, I used my stick to push off and act as a rudder. What took forever climbing up this stuff, took minutes getting down. I haven’t had so much fun since the last time.

1166.JPG

Always along for the ride. I am now the proud owner of “Dirty Girl” gaiters.

1173.JPG

What goes up, must come down. You can just make out the canopy of trees in the center of this vortex of rocks. That would be Ice House Canyon.

1189.JPG

You would think with as many roots as this tree has, it could just walk away… That would be scary.

1190.JPG

A stone throw away… No pun intended.

THE ONE THAT DIDN’T GET AWAY

1201.JPG

Taking what a cold stream can offer on a warm October day is priceless. Like always, it’s good to be back safe and without incident. Apart from the hike itself, I can see all the inherit dangers that come with this one. I’m not one to preach, as I don’t always follow the hiking code, which is the buddy system. I guess it’s just my personality and something I need to change. Having said that, I couldn’t have asked for a better way to learn and share what’s important to me. Take what is given and don’t let it get away.

sugarloaf-peak-3-3.jpg.910x680_q95_upscale-False.jpg

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s