The plan was simple. Jog or hike a meandering 20 mile fireroad south of the cucamonga peaks to joe elliot campground where i would join the south eastern trail up to the peak and then down icehouse canyon to the trailhead and back along the road to the cabin... This was to be my final hoorah to say goodbye to the cabin the canyon and the mountains.
0945 late start with 1.5 liter pack + two 20 ounce bottles, baby food and laurabars
1000 off the pavement and onto barrett stoddard fireroad, rock climbers in the gorge below
1120 drop down to lowest elevation (2671') in a canyon with red rock cliffs. River flowing well. Decended a lot further then expected before beginning climb to 8859' cucu peak.
1230 'nine miles to camp ground' sign. lots of tics on legs, overgrown trail deteriorating. Simply bushwacking in spots.
1300 topped out around bend. legs scraped from the thorny chaparral brush completely taken over the unmaintained trail. It grows when fires wipe put the trees. (Webster - an almost impenetrable thicket or succession of thickets or thorny shrubs and brambles, Wikipedia - mature chaparral is characterized by nearly impenetrable, dense thickets.) Going slow.
1330 descended to the wash directly below cucu peak. The scope and scale of rock formations is otherworldly, a giants playground. 'cg six miles' sign spray painted on a massive boulder. Cant go 100 meters without having to scramble across washed out scree avalanches.
1400 topped out around another bend through nearly incessant chaparral every twenty feet - badly scratching legs and arms. 'Stranded' in all directions. Already scrambled through too much to turn back.
1500 descended to another wash below cliffs which rise all the way up to rocky ridge above. More washed out sections.
1520 climb to gate with open fireroad on the other side.
1530 Joe Elliot campground and cucumonga wilderness trailhead (5840'). Now just 5 miles climb to the peak 5.8 down to the trailhead and 2 miles of pavement home. Starting to believe.
1604 deer - first wildlife. Still picking off two or three tics every five minutes.
1620 scrambling over 100s of fallen trees for half mile trying to follow debris strewn trail up hillside. Fire must have devastated this forest 10 years ago.
1645 base of summit ridge trail. Slight piercing headache and blurry vision. Moving into conifer forests growing on silvery rock towers. Inspiring place to find oneself. (The biggest and oldest bigcone douglas fir tree in the world is in Bear Canyon near the cabin)
1740 topped out at cucamonga peak trail turn off (8680') decided to skip .2mi summit trail and continue on 'damage control'.
1750 run out of water
1755 most beautiful sunset ever
1800 physical depression. mental confusion.
1805 first human contact - two hikers heading up to camp at summit. Scared them mightly.
1814 icehouse saddle (7580') ate last half of a baby food packet.
1830 trail barely visible. begin use of flashlight
1850 fill up bottle at icehouse spring, passing more people now who are hiking down
1910 reach icehouse trailhead and parking lot (4960'). Decide not to ask for a ride. Run on shoulder of road 2 miles to town.
1930 mt baldy village (4320'). Music comes whistling up through the air from the mountain lodge. The smell of barbecue wafts out of the diner. Through the dimly lit windows i see nicely dressed people enjoying dinner and drinks and warmth. A couple huddles together chatting casually as they return to there car. I enjoy my hike back up bear canyon reminiscing that i wasnt sure how i would get back here.
1941 home (10:00:00)
1945 What a stupid run... then an even better revelation.
I went to the cabin looking for a hard life. But now im going back to the land of recycling, in sink-er-ators and community pool access. Not because i discovered that the harsh environment isnt good for you or that its not for me. Its because i want 'hiking-up-rocky-stairs-to-freezing-cold-cabin-after-running-in-the-mountains-for-ten-hours' hard, without the 'driving-four-hours-a-day-in-traffic-to-work' hard. I want to make work easy or at least efficient so that my struggle will be focused on running and training and living an intentional life. In many ways the great thing about this experience was that it forced me to simplify every aspect of myself. And yet by doing that i think grew. And im taking with me so much of this short cabin experience. Who knows what adventures i am graduating to. Hiking the PCT? Owning a cabin in Big Bear? Working for the forest service? The grand experiment continues. Never stop exploring.