I hiked up Silver Peak in the San Bernardino NF yesterday with a small group from the Sierra Club, San Gorgonio Chapter. It's nice that some of their trips are during the week, as that is when I have days off, but not many others do. And these days I don't like to do long hikes alone - I wouldn't want something bad to happen, now that I have a little one at home!
This trip also caught my eye because of its location - Silver Peak is on the north end of the San Bernardino Mountains where they fall and meet the desert, and I love that transition zone. Plus, a mountain with no snow to contend with is nice this time of year. I'm not much of a snow person. Well, I should say ice, I hate hiking in icy conditions. Well, no, I hate falling on ice! lol
Plus, en route I could drop off the baby at my parents' place in Lucerne Valley. The baby does good on shorter hikes, but this one was going to be 10 miles RT with 2,300' gain - too much for the kiddo. Not to mention, carrying him would probably be too much for me! He's 22 pounds now, and with his pack/gear at least 32. I have done plenty of hiking since having the baby, even two backpacking trips, but nothing this long with this much gain.
Fortunately the gain was all slow and steady as we utilized a 4wd road. A lot of people climb the peak from the north, cross-country, with only 1,000' gain. But I'm glad we took the road - it made for a longer workout, which I need. The only bad thing about the road was the surface was quite rocky and loose. I am very glad to have brought my trekking poles.
The views from Silver Peak were tremendous, both out to the desert, and once on top, looking south to the higher snowbound peaks. We passed through some lovely bits of green Pinyon Pine, Juniper, and Joshua Tree Woodland on the way up. Some places would make for nice camping - of course you have to bring all your water. But you could easily find a scenic flat spot tucked behind one of the junipers and out of the wind.
Many of the Joshua Trees on Silver Peak are blooming, indeed it seems to be a good year for the Joshua bloom everywhere in the high desert. On top of the peak itself all the trees are stunted and gnarly - Krummholz, because of the wind. I welcomed the breeze, though, as otherwise the day was turning out to be a warm one. We rested for 20 minutes or so on top before heading back down.
As far as wildlife goes, we saw lots of birds and lizards, and I was hoping to possibly see some bighorn sheep... One of my coworkers saw one not too long ago in the canyon below. But they eluded us. I still have yet to see a bighorn in the San Bernardino Mountains!
Sheep or no sheep, it was a great hike - good to get out and get the heart pumping! I made good time, I was happy to be up in 3 hours, down in 2. That is a good pace for not having done any summits for many months now. Of course my legs are sore today, but nothing that a couple of Advil can't handle...