Last Sunday, a group of us took an ambitious trip up San Gorgonio. The group I took consisted of Hasan (4th year orthopaedic surgery resident), Ken (senior medical student), DJ and Rob (juniors), Mark and Seth (sophomores), and Brandon (whom I ran into at the Drayson Center several days before). We left Loma Linda at 4:50 am and arrived in Forest Falls at 5:30. Then, we started our hike. It was Hasan’s first major hiking trip, and by the time we reached halfway up the first set of switchbacks from the Vivian Creek trailhead, we were exhausted.
After reaching the wilderness marker, we were delighted to meet a more level trail which took us to Halfway campground junction, where we had the first part of breakfast. After another long stretch of switchbacks, we arrived at High Creek campground. We froze as we filtered water in preparation for the summit bid. Some puddles were covered with ice, and we quickly realized how cold it was.
Not long after heading up along the trail, we reach a beautiful ridge, where a short spur trail takes the hiker out to a ledge for a panoramic view of San Jacinto and its surroundings. There, we had the rest of breakfast and made mental preparations for the last push to the summit.
This last stretch was strenuous; the hike was made more difficult by the fact that some of us were gasping for oxygen in this thin air. The most mentally exhausting part was the long stretch just below the junctions to Dollar and Dry Lakes. The final part wasn’t too bad, as the trail had leveled off somewhat. On the summit, we stood by the geologic survey marker, snapped pictures, had lunch, and took in the scenery.
The hike back down was long and hard on the knees and ankles. We stopped by the ledge again and sang some hymns. Getting all four parts wasn’t always successful. From there, we descended to the switchbacks between High Creek and Halfway, where we paused to take in the sunset view framed by lacy clouds behind faraway silhouetted trees jutting above Little San Gorgonio range.
Headlamps and flashlights illuminated the rock-strewn trail for the rest of our downhill trek. We did stop briefly to view the clear star-filled night sky. By the time we got to our cars, it was almost 7:00 pm.
The next set of tasks were to shower, eat dinner, and crash.