Post-midterms Backpacking Trip III - San Gorgonio Wilderness - November 18-19, 2006

Below is a brief report and photos of the one-night backpacking trip by Matt and Christa Haeck, Joel Schreuder, and Mark Vander Pol to the San Gorginio Wilderness. .

We left Escondido at 5:00am and made it to the trailhead around 7:00. Our hope was to make it to the summit of San Gorgonio Mountain that afternoon after setting up camp halfway up.


Our route started at the South Fork Trailhead in the upper left corner of the map. We then took the Dry Lake Trail and set up our camp at Dry Lake (middle-right) in the map. From there our goal was to take the Sky High Trail leading to San Gorgonio Moutain Summit (lower right). The mileage was roughly 6 miles to camp and then 6 miles to the summit.


A couple of weeks before our trip the weather during the day was in the 30's and the possibility of snow. However, on this day the weather was absolutely gorgeous. In the shade and some of the valleys it could be chilly, for the most part we shed our long sleeves early on.


About 1.5 miles in one of us realized we had cell-phone reception so we all made phone calls to loved ones telling them that we arrived to the trailhead safely and are making good progress thus far.


Entering the San Gorgonio Wilderness. Mark is on the left with Matt and Christa on the right (Joel is obviously, then, taking the photo).


There were a few small streams, that cross the trail shortly after switching to the Dry Lake Trail. I found it surprising how much water was flowing through these streams considering they were only spring driven and there had not been any precipitation over the past week or so.

For future trip planning, besides Dry Lake which was not the best place to get water, these streams were the only other water that we saw. Lodgepole Spring is supposedly a good place to get water, but we only briefly looked for the spring but wanted to get moving on to the summit so we settled for the lake. Even though we didn't consume much water thus far, we wish we had filled everything up that we could in these streams.


In the middle of this photo, above the clear area on the moutainside, between the two higher peaks is a little saddle where Dollar Lake is. We found out from another hiker the next day that Dollar Lake is dry. The peak on left is Charlton Peak.


Our first look at San Gorgonio Mountain 2,500 ft above us and a 6.5 mile hike ahead (2 miles as the crow flies). You cannot see our route to the summit since it will be approached from the other side.


Our first look at Dry Lake. From what I could tell it was a fairly shallow lake and was about half full. Since We did not see anything flowing into the lake and the outlet was a couple of feet higher than the lake level, the water was kind of stagnant, but still fairly clear. We did filter water from the lake, and everybody is still living, so it can be used for water!


There was a fairly large camping area northeast of the lake. The area in the front was set up as an eating area with places for tents scattered about. We arrived here at 11:00am and went about setting up our camp for the night. We ate some lunch and got everything heavy out of our packs for the summit push.


Looking north over Dry Lake. Our campsite is someplace in the center of the photo.




At Mine Shaft Saddle we saw the first sign for San Gorgonio Moutain still 3.6 miles and 1,600 feet up.

Soon after this point Christa decided to allow the guys to go on ahead. We gave Christa a whistle and flashlight and took off for the summit.


Joel standing in front of the east side of the mountain.

This just before we started some very loooong switchbacks on the way to the top.


In 1952 there was a C-47 transport plane that crashed into the side of the mountain. For some more info click here.


All day we were approaching San Gorgonio from the north. Here we are finally on the south side of the mountain around 11,000 feet looking to the west at the Vivian Creek trail.


Mark and Joel coming up the trail.


Matt with San Jacinto Peak in the background. Yes that is a little snow on the ground!


Mark and Joel with the summit of San Gorgonio Mtn. in the background.


Matt, Joel and Mark on the summit.


Looking east from the summit.


There are a couple of places to pitch tents on the summit. There was one person staying on the summit that night. We passed this guy on the trail below the summit, but when we arrived on the summit he was already there! more about that later.


Looking north. It might be hard to see, but in the lower left of the photo you can barely see Dry Lake where our campsite was.


For being the highest point in Southern California there is no nice summit sign. We had to settle for the offical survey marker to prove we made it to the summit!


Go to page 2 - the way down and the next day.



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