Here we were, sitting on the Vivian Creek trailhead parking lot ready to start our hike. With only one mission ahead of us: reach San Gorgonio summit. Our group consisted of 5; Sheila, Jen, Chad, Cody and me.
Our plan was to arrive at the trailhead around 2pm, and make it to High Creek campgrounds (5miles from start) and set camp. Things however, did not go as planned. Time was against us, as we started our way up the mountain nearly at 5pm. Packs strapped tightly to our backs, our voyage begun. Sheila, who had been there before was leading the way. After about 1 mile, we reached the San Gorgonio Wilderness sign, stating a PERMIT is required.
I was thrilled, and still could not believe we were actually there, attempting to reach Southern California’s highest point. Though I was excited, I was also tired. Our packs were pretty heavy. From beginning of trail, the steepness kept increasing gradually. When we reached the sign, a group picture was taken, and a much needed break was enjoyed. Shortly after leaving from the San Gorgonio Wilderness sign, we encountered a volunteer ranger. He was coming down from the summit, and was concerned for our safety. “Do you guys have rope?” he asked. Chad told him safety was our priority, and if we thought any danger shall arise, we would not hesitate to turn back. The ranger checked the permit, chit chat with us advising the conditions of trail, then shortly after we continued our trek.
Our first break was at Vivian Creek. Here, the crew filtered water and had snacks. After about 10 minutes or so, we continued. Daylight was slowly fading. Late night hikes don’t have to be short and boring. As the night took over, we stopped to strap on our headlamps, and hiked in the dark for about 3 hours (maybe more 🙃).
At around 9:30pm we reached the breaking point of Halfway Camp and High Creek. Here, we discussed if to proceed to original destination -High Creek, or stay at Halfway camp. We were pretty tired. That was not only the factor keeping us from going. The next 2 1/2 miles to High Creek would be PERHAPS icy, and dangerous AF. And keep in mind, it was already dark. The crew decided to call it a night, and avoid any danger zones. Halfway camp turned to be our billion star hotel for the night. A nice camping spot was found, and we laid down our packs giving us so sooooo much relief. Before cooking dinner, we set camp. Dinner for me, my favorite, RAMEN NOODLES. Each one of the group had different meals. The next day’s hike would not be any easier than today, therefore our time to be on the trail was set to 5am. For a few minutes, we glissaded down a mini mountain right behind our tents to practice self arrest with ice axe. then, off to sleep we went.
Unfortunately, Jen and Cody, did not have the proper sleeping bags, and were unable to sleep due to coldness. Cody, also had fever blisters around his mouth. As much as they wanted to make it to summit, Cody wasn’t feeling well, and finally deciding to make their way down the mountain. Safe call if you ask me. Sheila, Chad and I packed only snacks and food, leaving tents and sleeping gear at campsite. At 6:45am we started hiking up. Lighter packs, made for faster ascending, however, the fact that we would gain over 3,000 in 6miles could not be overlooked. Sections between halfway and Highcreek were hard ice, we stopped to strap on crampons. Ice axe was in full effect as well. Made it up the first steep ass hill, boy was that steep! There was a 2nd hill, this was no different from the first. Upon reaching the top of the 2nd steep hill going straight up the mountain, a much needed break was enjoyed. And, it was lunch time. Sheila’s jetboil stove was used by all of us, as I had ran out of fuel in the am when making coffee. A few photos were snapped while water was boiling. The views to San Jacinto peak were extraordinary. I was im complete awe.
Well rested and bellies full, our trek continued strong, still had about 2 long miles to reach summit. The steepness level got to a point where we had to stop to catch our breath every 10-15 steps. Our final stretch seemed the hardest, as we were already exhausted. Last break was taken, and from there we would make a run for the peak, figuratively speaking. We were pushing for the peak.
The summit was reached at around 1pm, and we were all happy the long strenuous hike had paid off. This was Chad’s first time up San Gorgonio summit, and was my first official summit. I was astounded by the views, was just amazing. Last snacks were munched, snapped a few pics, and I enjoyed my FIRST SUMMIT BEER, well deserved if you ask me. We also kept in mind Sheila’s one WHOLE year of sobriety. Way to go! CONGRATS! 🍻
The way down was much faster, as the snow was slushy from direct sunlight. We glissaded and made it down to Highcreek in a little under 1hour. I was a bit skeptical about sliding down, as I dropped my ice axe somewhere along the trail. RIP ice axe. Luckily, Chad is a swell skier, and he let me borrow his axe to descend. All the while he was skiing down the mountain as if he was walking in the park. Though the hike down was much faster, still took us a good 5 hours to get down. Finally reaching the parking lot at nearly 8pm.