You can't call yourself a Los Angeles peakbagger until you've done the 3 T's. It's one of those rites of passage like learning how to drive, or getting drunk and peeing under a bridge in Venice.
From the Chapman Trail it's 5.3 miles to the Icehouse Saddle, versus 3.6 on the Icehouse Canyon Trail, but it didn't seem to take much longer since the 2600' of gain is stretched out over an extra 1.7 miles. The trail is also much less crowded than Icehouse and you get some nice views of the surrounding peaks before you meet back up with Icehouse for the final 0.6 miles of switchbacks.
|<3 Mt. Baldy <3|
From the saddle, Thunder Mountain is only 3.9 miles away. We'd done Timber before, so we just ran up (stashed our packs around the 1/4 mile sign), got our summit shot, and ran back down and got on our way to our main destination, Telegraph Peak.
|3 T's Trail between Timber and Telegraph|
Once we got past Timber, the rest of the trail was almost completely empty. Like the North Backbone Trail, after each peak, you have to descend way too far down to a saddle where you get to look up at the next peak and wonder why you chose this masochistic hobby. It looks like you're going to be gaining something crazy like 2000' per mile but the ascent to Telegraph wasn't horribly steep until the final 1/4 mile. Great views from up there, but you have to go back down the trail a few feet if you want a comfortable shady spot to eat lunch.
|Apple Valley from Telegraph|
Once you've gotten up to Telegraph, you've done all the hard work on this trail. There's only one more mile from Telegraph to Thunder and it's not much of a climb. The summit is also not what you'd really expect, mainly just a skiing area.
From Thunder, you can go back the way you came, but looking back at all the ups and downs it's not really all that inviting. It was only about another 1.5 miles to Baldy Notch so we headed that way instead.
From the Notch, we took the "trail" under the ski lifts back to Manker Flats instead of following the kindler, gentler fire road back to the parking lot. This rocky trail cuts off a few miles and it's steep and slippery but not very dangerous, and I'm proud to say that I only fell 4 times.
We were parked by the Icehouse Canyon Trailhead so we had to walk on the road from Manker Flats all the way there. I'm not so sure I preferred saving the 2 or 3 miles by taking this route back. I live in the middle of LA and I spend most of my life breathing in car exhaust, so hiking is pretty much the only time I get to escape that. No idea where everyone's going late on a Sunday afternoon on Mt. Baldy road, but I had to hold my breath pretty much every other minute to try not to breathe in the fumes as each car went by. If you enjoy hiking, stay on the hiking trails. Walking on a car road is not hiking, and it's not the least bit enjoyable. You're better off just taking the longer route. I think I actually might have preferred the Icehouse Canyon Trail to the road we took.
No more fucking shortcuts!
Matti took the pics.