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Ascent of San Gorgonio Mountain on 2016-09-26

Climber: bob l

Date:Monday, September 26, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:San Gorgonio Mountain
    Location:USA-California
    Elevation:11499 ft / 3504 m

Ascent Trip Report

I started this hike at the Vivian Creek Trailhead around 6am. It was dark, but the weather was very accommodating otherwise. You initially walk up a gravel road a quarter mile or so to a turnoff that leads you across a creek bed to a big impending mountainside. You then wind your way up several switchbacks cut on the side of this mountain face for about 1 mile or so before reaching a woodsy plateau area and the Vivian Creek. This first section is early in the hike so it didn’t seem too tough at the time, but I really appreciated the steepness of this uphill wind on the way back down several hours later. It’s really inclined and it may be the hardest part of the hike. Through the plateau area it’s a fairly easy and enjoyable, modestly uphill, mile or so walk through some entertaining woods. You get the feeling that things couldn’t get any better than this in the early morning hours graciously overshadowed by beautiful tall trees chorused in a singing west coast forest. It’s hard to believe that there are millions and millions of people not too far away in another world. Near the end of this section, you’ll pass a “Halfway Camp” sign which isn’t really halfway, but only about 2.7 miles out. Coming back down, I was glad this sign post wasn’t the actual halfway point. Soon afterwards, the trail toughens somewhat into longish switchbacks as you make your way up another mountainside. It’s pretty in here too with some great overlooks and views. On my way down in this part, I actually encountered a bobcat on the trail. At about 5 miles or so, you wander through a camp and cross easily over High Creek. From here, you have to deal with another mountainside rise and numerous switchbacks. You can see the ridge on top of you dropping down closer and closer as you continue to push back and forth along these switchbacks until you eventually end at a scenic lookout area on top of the ridge about 6.5 miles out. I rested here and looked at my time feeling good about the hike, but around this section, you’re also starting to take steps above 10K elevation. Things started feeling slower for me from this point on. The trail then grinds up another steep short ridge via more switchbacks then swings around and upwards in a bowl like area. It’s in this bowl area that you start to see the nearing summit area. There are several peaks welcoming you to these heights. It does get more rocky through this section as you are emerging above the trees, but the trail is still pretty followable as it is throughout most of the hike. Near the other side and top of the bowl, which is about 8 miles out, you junction with the Dollar Lake trail. From this signage, it is a short, exhaling, flattish traverse to the summit. I enjoyed the summit for a short while then returned the same way getting back to the trailhead about 9 ½ hours after leaving it. Afterwards, I felt I could pat myself on the back completing this one. It is Southern California’s highest!
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