Why San Gorgonio Is Special...
I see it almost every day. Its large grey summit looms above all the other peaks in the San Gorgonio mountain range. It towers over the three saintly mountains of southern california(San Jacinto,San Antonio).When it comes to big mountains in socal, these are the ones, with Gorgonio as the big boy.All three mountains are over 10 thousand feet and all of them can be done in a day. But San G as a day hike is more than a long day. The Vivian creek trail provides the shortest hike at 17.2 miles round trip...with around 5,050ft elevation gain going up and down. After knocking off San Antonio and San Jacinto early in my mountain life, the big boy stares down at me constantly inviting me to go up.
I began hiking and mountaineering last summer,and I have been to many beautiful spots in california.I have encountered many tough days on the trail.But once I felt I was in good enough trail shape for Gorgonio, I waited for the longest day of the year for enough daylight to take on San G. Sad to say but my partner and I only could get up to red rock at 10,021ft on the Vivian creek trail that day.We stared at the summit and could only wish for another attempt.You know that stupid thing called work, it decides when we go out.And unfortunatley the next attempt will have to wait another 2 months plus.
My home mountain range,so to speak,is San Gorgonio and its little brothers surrounding her.And I would say that I spend more than seventy five percent of my outdoor time there,so you can imagine all those times I stare at San G,wondering and waiting for my time to finally get to the top.After the penciled in date to climb was set on a second attempt, a small obsession to summit began.
Basically since our days were shorter, we decided to overnight at High creek on the Vivian creek trail. The trip was set in stone so I began accumilating better gear and cooler gadgets to use on the trip. Lots of money and trips to rei later, I was ready. After healing up from a injury I got from a fall in staircase canyon, I prepared for this hike by caddying 36 holes for a friend in his US Am qualifyer on monday(a 12 miler), and a 8 mile grunt up Forsee creek on tuesday. So on wendesday I left The OC to meet with my climbing partners house in Redlands. Greg,(my partner)and I have been looking forward to this due to our failed attempt on the longest day of the year. Crawling up the 91 to his place, my head filed with us on the top of San G, sucsessfull and jubilant. I was PUMPED! At 7pm wednesday I arived at Greg's place. As he greeted me outside i was kind of put back when he said "Hey dude, my friend Paul is coming with us!" Hmmmmm...Who is this guy? I know Greg can handle this hike, and he says that this guy hikes the Santa Monica range, but will he be able to deal with the hell Vivian dishes out, along with the elevation? Eleven thousand isn't much but I know some people can't hang. Well, lets see what happens.I wasnt going to worry about it. Besides, whats the worst that could happen?
Note-here on in my thoughts will be in perenthisies( hi )!!
And there off to the Trailhead!
We woke up and were off to the trailhead.Paul needed some xtra supplys so we were delayed a bit.(ok,whatever) We got to the trail head and darted off. The first mile and a half up vivian is arguably the toughest part of out endeavor. About a mile up we were stopped by a forest ranger and two SB sun reporters asking us about the wilderness. After the interview I couldnt help notice paul sucking almost all his water down ALREADY and sweating profuciously(great).Our trio got up to Vivian camp and took a small break to take off our 50+ pound packs, and enjoy the surroundings. Ten minutes later we were off again,(this would be the first and last time Paul would be arriving with us at a break point). I was in front most of the way up and after a brisk hike through a beautiful meadow and around a ridge near Vivian Creek, I was making good time and felt good when I reached halfway camp. I ran into a family whom were leaving the area due to some bear sightings, so I thanked them for the info and waited for the other two in my party.Greg showed up shortly behind me, and twenty minutes later, here comes paul.(what the fuck!?! its only 3 easy miles between camps and hes strugglin already!)As Paul takes off his pack to rest, ive been there longer than i want and I didnt want to upset my pace and rythum.I was gone. My pace was good and i was moving fast. Two miles later up the mountain i realized they were way back so I stopped at a rock and sat on it.(what the hell.Greg is never this slow.Paul is strugglin bad already,and this is the easy part!) I waited fifteen minutes to see Greg,moving at his normal pace.
"Paul is hurtin dude, we should wait for him" Twenty minutes later a laboring sweaty paul comes into sight. And he wants to rest. OK. I wanted to be a friendly leader so I stuck around as Paul lites up a cigarette and we munched on some summer sausage.Now dont get me wrong, I smoke. But I smoke maybe 3 cigarettes on a entire weekend in the mountains.But smoking now as youre strugglin up the mountain! DAMN!!!
This really may be more than he can handle but Im stoked for a San G summit and if I have to drag him up there I will.(hopefully this will not be the case) Well we headed off to High creek camp which was where we will overnight. I got there a good twenty minutes before greg and thirty five before paul(At this time i did not know the greg has taken on fifteen pounds extra from pauls pack from halfway camp). We found a interesting camp site that had a evil looking leather mask hanging on a tree.After seting up camp we had some food, wine and smoked some ganja to fall asleep around 930pm to awake around 330am to get to the summit hopefully at sunrise.
4am Friday Morning-High Camp
I woke up about 345am and slowly woke Greg and Paul to a beautiful full moon, so It was easy to prepare our summitpack we were all to share carrying up to the top. At 410am we were slowly moving up the mountain.At first me and Greg were tired and having self-doubt, but the adrenaline started as we got our first good look at San G around the same spot we turned around from earlyer that year.After a hour of moving I was feeling studly and volunteered to take the summit pack.The beauty of the tree line around 10,750ft and the sunlight slowly illuminating the landscape was breathtaking.I got up to the final ridge where trail crossings for dollar lake and mineshaft flats. My crew showed up ten and fifteen minutes later as we took pictures of our first unobstructed views of socal.Awesome! I rushed off and before I knew it there it was...the summit block. I dashed up the rocky hill and saw the summit registers. I DID IT! Finally I am standing on the top of Southern California! We did it Greg! Wait...Greg? Oh there he is! Greg summited 2 minutes after me and we embraced in our sucsess."Well we finally knocked the bastard off!" Greg shouted. We took our pictures, signed the summit register and began smoking the traditional summit joint as Paul arrives,looking like he was in a fight with wild animals.So we hung on the summit and ate some snacks as I began to shoulder the summit pack and began meandering down the mountain I had finally completed. Shortly therafter Greg caught up with me to share some news about Paul. I thought the way he was walking and talking he was suffering from a mild form of AMS, and turned out he was, along with what Greg told me his ankles and knees were killing him.(what,greg and my pains and sufferings dont matter, we were at least bieng men and toughing it out not whining like a mule!?!)Acompanied by big blisters, he could care less about the summit, the mountain, the trip. He wanted out fast.
[img:219771:aligncenter:small:]Paul slowly followed us back down the mountain to our camp at High Creek.
We got to camp and tore down and began packing up our packs. Due to Paul's condition Greg had offered to carry most of Pauls stuff.If the taste in my mouth wasnt so bitter from his entire presence to Greg and my special trip up San G, I would have taken more than the extra 10 pounds of Paul's stuff down the mountain. It was kinda mean, but as me and Greg split up the weight I said "hes your friend" a couple of times. Nonetheless, I had to carry this punks stuff up and down the mountain. Gregs huge pack was enormous and he had to carry things in his hands! As we walked down the mountain me and Greg talked about the trip, the goal accomplished and new stuff to do together.Just us two(hehe). We took a couple breaks together and I realized Greg stopped Big Brothering Paul, Greg seemed to care less as long as paul met us at the car. Me and Greg got to the car and began moaning and groaning to our own sore knees,legs,and bodys. I applyed some soothing care to my blisters and aches when Greg exclaimed "wheres paul?"
Paul showed up a hour after we got to the car,pissing and moaning about his pain.So we drove home and as Paul left, Me and Greg looked up at San G and we held up our nalgene bottles of mountain spring water we pumped. "Cheers my brother.What's next?"