Saturday, August 1, 2009

San Gorgonio, the highest peak in SoCal

Rather than spending another 4th of July at the beach, my husband and I decided to join a group of hikers from the San Diego Hiking Club in a backpacking trip to San Gorgonio in the San Bernardino Mountains.

To avoid preconceptions of any kind, we decided to go with the flow and not research the area. After all, our hike leader, Gloria, had hiked the mountain at least 3 times.

Well, on July 3rd, after a substantial breakfast in a cafe in Escondido, and a root bear break on route 38 (Mentone), we arrived at the Vivian Creek trailhead (at 6,000 feet) at around 11:30 am.

With backpacks loaded with stuff for 3 days (including our bear-proof canister), we started walking on the steep and narrow path towards the campground (Half Way Camp, at about 8,000 feet.) The day was very clear despite the large clouds spotting the deep blue sky. It seemed to be a wonderful setting until we realized that this was one of the most challenging hikes we could have done. It took us 5 hours to cover the 2.5 miles to campground. We arrived exhausted and rushed to set our tents. We needed a nap before dinner!

At 9:00am on July 4th, we left the campground and headed up to San Gorgonio at 11,503 feet. That meant, that we would need to gain 3,500 feet in 6 miles before arriving to the summit!

Knowing the long way ahead, we paced ourselves and tried to enjoy the beautiful views along the way. We were only carrying our day pack with some snacks and water.

It was 2:00 pm when we reached the tree line (at about 11,000 feet). We were almost out of water and the rest of the way was very arid and hot. This was the most difficult part of this trip!

I considered giving up without reaching the summit at least 3 times. The path seemed never ending. All our hiking companions, including a couple in their 70’s had gone ahead of us!

We finally reached the summit at 3:00 pm. This had been the longest hour in our lives! We did it! Could not believe it! Our feet were numb!

The view was breathtaking! A 360ยบ panoramic view of SoCal including the length of Big Bear Lake, and San Jacinto!

At 3:30, we started our way down. Our only goal was to reach the tree line again for shade. We did not have more water! And the next creek to replenish it was at least one hour away….

(to be continued)……

Photo credit:


  1. I'm really enjoying your posts... what a cool way to spend July 4

    -Liz (from class)

  2. Only three times? After reading your article, it looks a little to me.