Summer Interlude: Hiking the Icehouse...

An age-old training tip states that it is a good idea to periodically take time off the bike, step away, engage in some other activities that you enjoy. Even at my peak, in my early 30s, I never really put much stock in the advice. At the least, I did not find it a necessary requirement, even though I was riding more miles than ever, racing most weekends, race-pace training rides three days a week. I wasn't fatigued, I wasn't burnt out, so why stop for even a short period of time.

These days, even though I still try to collect miles every day possible, I don't mind taking days off. [thinking about that statement, thinking...] Well, lets just say I don't mind too much. One thing I have done nearly as long as cycling, is hiking/backpacking. Not nearly as frequently, mind you, but that is to be expected. Atop the list of the family's local favorites is the trek into Icehouse Canyon. We have gone there to escape the heat of summer days, we have gone there when snow has made the upper portion of the trail all but impassable. Often we go there just to hike the first half of the trail which keeps to the canyon bottom within view, or at least sound, of the stream. Cold water falls over small waterfalls, and into clear pools. Spring water seeps from the mountainside along the trail raising colorful expanses of columbine and monkeyflower. Overhead, cedars, alders, pines, sycamore, and oak keep everything shady and cool. Tiny cabins of the 1950s dot the lower portion of trail, in between the stone walled ruins of older ones dating as far back as the 1930s, maybe even the 1920s.

someone chose to bike, then hike

even in July, the water is cold

columbines cover the mountains side here

The second half of the trail has a different feel; it leaves the cover of the canyon bottom and climbs the slopes. Shade becomes more spotty, though stands of trees keep it from becoming oppressive. The heat rises with the grade and the increased sun exposure. At 3.6 miles you reach Icehouse Saddle at the top of the canyon. A cool breeze here, rising up from either side of the saddle make it a nice place for a break, or lunch before turning around. Four additional trails branch off at the saddle - three keep climbing, to Timber Mountain, Ontario Peak, Cucamonga Peak, while the fourth goes down the other side. 

Being so close to the city you tend to see a wide range of people on the trail, a kind of microcosm of society. I don't think I have ever failed to see a group of Asian hikers, but have never been sure if they were tourists from oversees, or just a more local hiking group; always friendly and enjoying their day in the mountains. There are small school groups, scouts naturally, families, and solo day trekkers. Some of the individuals are fantastic, and I wonder at their stories. This most recent time in the canyon there was a man coming down the trail like a locomotive, big, huge smile, booming hello, clearly in his element. Then there was the guy plodding up hill, my wife nicknamed him Mountain Jim; carrying a ragtag backpack, looking like it had been cobbled together from bits and pieces, things dangled off it and rattled around, a little geology hammer was carried in one hand, and a heavy old kerosene lantern in the other. He too, was clearly in his element; I jokingly suggested he had a secret gold mine hidden somewhere up there. Then there are the people who just look completely out of place - gals in spaghetti-string tops and high heels, guys in flip-flops, and not a lick of water between them. I can't help laughing to myself, and calling them "city folk" once they are out of earshot. But hey, at least they are doing something healthy outdoors, so good for them. 

more sun up above the canyon

the camera's 2-second setting just was not quite enough. mt. baldy in the distance

pretty rugged looking back down canyon

some hot, tired dogs cooling off. you should have seen the steam
rise when they were plunged into that cold water