|Peak Summited||2021 San Gorgonio|
|Type of Hike||Day hike|
|Trailhead||Vivian Creek Trail|
|Road Conditions||Road suitable for all vehicles|
|Bug Status||Bugs were an annoyance|
|Snow Conditions||Snow free|
|Trail Conditions||Trail in good condition|
I happened across a single permit available for a weekend hike 4th of July weekend about a month ago, and decided I wanted to give this a shot. This was an intimidating hike for sure: It was the highest peak in Southern California, and I had already been forced to turn around shy of the summit on a similar hike up San Jacinto earlier in the year due to altitude sickness, and I had never done a hike this long before. I still wanted to try anyway. Worse case scenario I would make it a recon trip for checking out the backpacking sites higher up the mountain!
I started my hike around 6:30 in the morning on a Saturday. I parked at the Big Falls trailhead parking since the Vivian Creek Trail parking was full. I expected a somewhat more comfortable start this day compared to when I was last here since I'm just carrying a day pack (instead of my full backpacking kit) and it's earlier in the day. Alas, it was humid and a bit warm, so my start was a bit discouraging. I thought about making it just to Halfway or High Creek camp and turning around if it was going to be this muggy AND this hilly.
Thankfully the steep climb chilled out just after Vivian Creek Camp, and I was able to enjoy the the beautiful surroundings. I took some time enjoying a snack and some walk breaks. A number of groups passed me in this beginning portion, which was of comfort since there were other people on this trail, but also a reminder I still have a LOT of miles to go, so I picked up the pace a bit while the terrain was still somewhat “flat”.
I made my way up to High Creek Camp where I checked out the water source and took another break before continuing the switchbacks I had been dreading all morning. Surprisingly, the switchbacks weren't that bad. Every other leg was relatively flat, so the climb was very gentile. I found a somewhat hidden spot off trail to dig a hole to relieve myself. It's kind of surprising that after all this hiking and camping, this was the first time I actually needed to use a cat hole, so it felt like some rite of passage XD
Eventually I crested a ridge where I found the charred remains of wildfires. It was a sobering sight on why fire safety is so important. As I walked along, I saw some green parts sprouting from the burned remains of plants, and I am hopeful that life finds a way through destruction.
The remaining “serious” parts of the climb made up of most of the remaining 2 or so miles of hiking, and I found a fellow hiker to chat with about the hike. The weather was actually really nice for the summit area. For the most part, it was overcast, and not too windy, so the summit was showing its hospitable side for this particular day. I still couldn't see the summit, but there wasn't much left to climb no matter what direction I went, really.
Finally, within the last quarter mile I could see the summit. The very tippy top was atop a rock scramble, but that felt EASY compared to everything I'd done so far, and it was really nice at the top! The views were gorgeous, and because it was overcast it didn't feel too hot to linger a bit up there. Another hiker mentioned maybe another nearby bump was actually higher than where we were standing, so I told him I'm rounding this to the summit either way XD
The hike back down was much faster than the climb. I took about 9.5 hours climbing, and a little over 3 hours descending, though my legs felt like jelly in parts, and the temperatures got hotter as I went lower in altitude. I refilled about 2 Liters of water at High Creek Camp using my water filter and had some “dinner” snacks and another pack of electrolytes so my legs wouldn't cramp up.
Overall it was a SUPER hike, and I was very happy I made it to the top!