Angeles National ForestLocate the trailhead.
Icehouse Canyon is on a right hand straight (the road turns sharply left) just after Baldy Village. To enter the Wilderness some two miles up, you need to get a permit. We also needed a hang tag to hold the Golden Eagle so we were good and let them count us. That didn't make parking any easier on a Sunday morning. Backpackers and early(er) risers had gotten all the real spaces in the large lot, and quite a few of the imaginary ones. I was able to imagine one more spot on the second time around so we weren't so good on the parking but we weren't blocking anything either.
The trail itself goes up at a steady, determined pace. It is about 3.6 miles of constant up. It does not go flat, it does not go down, it just climbs and climbs until it gets to the saddle. There is one junction along the way which is actually just another way up to the saddle but takes about two miles longer to get there. We took this going down, freeing ourselves of most of the crowd.
As with most the area canyons, there's cabins along the way. The first few are actually kept up and populated although there is some evidence that they're not quite all still there. Lost cabins can be seen from time to time a few miles up, but used cabins don't go as far as the first mile.
|Once this was someone's cabin, now all that is left is a chimney and a bit of ground that is clear but no longer flat.|
As we got up near the end of the densest area of cabins, we started seeing many lady bugs on the plants. A little further and we found what we thought was a huge swarm of the things. That was until we rounded the corner and saw them gathering together seeming to be five deep in places.
|The orange-red would be ladybugs. The grey and brownish are rocks and dirt and loose leaves. What exactly is attracting these ladybugs is a mystery but they are very enthusiastic about it. (Abbie, much later: Turns out, not ladybugs.)|
As we continue to climb, the vegetation becomes more sparse, especially the undergrowth. Following the trail, we found ourselves on the other side of the canyon without crossing over the stream which had water below. We can see far up the slopes easily all along the trail. The trees are huge and the slopes make them seem as bushes along the way.
|One of the lesser slopes which doesn't dwarf the trees so far beyond what one would expect.|