Saturday, July 20, 2013

07-06-2013 Lytle Creek


 I think this was the most enjoyable San Gabriel canyon I’ve had the pleasure of descending. You will need a permit for this hike. The trail is in the Cucamonga Wilderness, a bit north of the small town of Fontana. To get to the trail-head you have to drive on a bumpy dirt road for a couple of miles. After you park, it’s an 1800 foot hike up to the drop-in point. It took our group about two hours get the drop-in.


At first there wasn’t any water in the creek bed. Soon after we started going downstream the water started to emerge from the dry ground. It wasn’t too much longer before we reached the first rappel.  I finally got to use the new rope I bought almost a year ago. It’s a 9.2mm Canyon Rope by Blue Water. It’s a bit “faster” than the 9.5mm Sterling Canyontech that we also brought along. 

The second rappel was the best. It was a two stage rap that totaled about hundred feet. The first drop is about 25 feet. When I got to the edge of the second section I found a large boulder teetering dangerously. I locked off and pushed it off the edge. It hit the pool below with a very satisfying splash.


I was excited. When I got to the end of the rappel, I had to drop into a little swimmer pothole. I’m over six feet tall and I had to swim a few feet before I could bounce off the bottom. As soon as I hit the water I got a wicked cramp in my right calf. Combining the cramp with a harness loaded with climbing equipment and I was struggling a bit to get out of the pothole. I did get out though, and I stretched out my cramp.  The next person came down, and then I called up to the rest of the group to throw down another rope so I could proceed to the next anchor and rig up. They threw down a rope that landed in the pothole. I jumped into the water again to retrieve it. This time my left calf cramped up. This was the most painful cramp I think I’ve ever had. I had to ask my canyon-mate to help stretch it out. I popped a few S-caps and pounded some water and hoped for the best.


A few minutes later I was good to go find the next rappel. We found it a couple hundred yards downstream. This was another rap into water, though not as deep as the previous one. I rigged up my rope and proceed down the waterfall. A few feet down I found myself straining to keep the rope from slipping through my Totem. I had to add some friction on the fly. This was the first time I’ve had to bump up the friction on a rappel. Lucky for me adding friction to the Totem is super easy.  The pool at the bottom was only waist deep.  


Looking Down the Last Rappel

 There were two more wet rappels and then it was time to exit. The hike out took another hour or so. Thanks again to John C for taking care of the permits, and organizing this trip. Despite the cramps, I thoroughly enjoyed this canyon. I can't wait to do it again.


  1. This looks like a lot of fun. How do I get started learning how to rappel?

    1. You can take a basic canyoneering class. They're usually a three day class that cover things like rappelling, building anchors, and canyon safety. The only classes I endorse are from the ACA taught by Rich Carlson. He's the only instructor I have had. However, he only comes to southern California sporadically. There's outfit based in LA called Uber Adventures that hosts classes more frequently, But I've never taken a class from them so I can't give my seal of approval, though I've haven't heard anything bad about them.