Midnight Ascent – San Gorgonio

Peak Summited2019 San Gorgonio
Type of HikeDay hike
TrailheadVivian Creek
EncounteredWildflowers blooming
Road ConditionsRoad suitable for all vehicles
Bug StatusBugs were not too bad
Snow ConditionsSnow free
Trail ConditionsTrail in good condition

Midnight Ascent! When I was living in Australia, the mountaineering club would have an event called ‘Midnight Ascent' where everyone would start hiking to the destination at midnight, which I really enjoyed.  As Gorgonio can be painful and exhausting in the summer heat, I decided to do a Midnight Ascent of Gorgonio to both beat the heat and to see the sunrise from the ‘roof' of southern California.  After the first couple miles, I realized I needed to go a bit slower so that I wouldn't spend too much time in the cold and the wind at the summit waiting for sunrise, as I didn't have any extra layers for my legs (I was in running shorts). So I dropped the pace a bit and made it to the top in 5 hours, arriving just after 5am.  Looking southeast, the sky was already beautiful (between astronomical and nautical twilight), and I have a bit under an hour to wait for sunrise, which was amazing.  Another aspect I hadn't anticipated? The breathtaking view of Gorgonio's shadow across the southland. I'd seen pictures of Pico de Orizaba's shadow, and Gorgonio's was stunning.

Water is flowing healthily at both Halfway and at High camp.


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  1. Congrats for finishing the hardest peak among 12…….
    We have done this hike a couple of times at day time; it was extremely difficult.
    We are now contemplating to hike at night to avoid the sun.
    Did you have any difficulty at night finding the trail? Did you see other hikers on the trail?

  2. I did not see any other hikers on the trail, but there were some people sleeping in their car in the parking lot who probably intended to start hiking before sunrise. Starting at midnight meant I saw no other hikers the entire time on the ascent (though lots on the descent, as expected for a Saturday morning).

    I had no trouble following the trail, except for when you emerge above the trees into the sandy rock garden. It’s not that big of a deal as long as you keep heading for the saddle and keep ascending. As you’ve done the hike before, you shouldn’t have any problems!