Hiking San Gorgonio

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   San Gorgonio Mountain stands at an staggering altitude of 11,503 feet, one reason why we choose to hike it. It is located in the San Gorgonio wilderness, which is part of the San Bernardino National Forest. The mountain was named after St. Goronius by Spanish Missionaries in the early 17th century and is the highest point in the region. Enough of geographical history, let’s get to the hike.

  Six of us set out to hike San Gorgonio , a four day and approximately 50 mile expedition into the San Bernardino National Forest. We chose to set out in the middle of September when the weather was mild, it was a perfect time for the hike. We planned our trip well, each of us bringing one backpack, weighing about 50 lbs and  carrying all that we needed. I brought MRE’s (meals ready to eat), while others brought dehydrated food thus meaning less weight to carry. We plotted our course hiking to Dry Lake, the Summit of San Gorgoino, to Dollar Lake and San Bernardino Mountain. We were to finish our expedition by hiking down to Angelus Oaks and being picked up there.

 Day One begins with us feeling excited, energized and ready to start our adventure. On the first day things were going well. We made our way across the trails and arrived at Dry Lake, at the base of the mountain. The name does not do it justice. The lake is quite large and not dry at all. The water at the lake is melt off from San Gorgonio peak. The peak used to have a year round capped ice  glacier, and when we arrived there was still a small amount of ice. The view was incredible! We set up camp overshadowed by an 11, 000 foot peak. After setting up camp, and raising our backpacks up in a tree branch, so bears would not get into them, we settled in for the night.

  Day Two: We awoke with high spirits ready to summit the mountain. That day during our hike the blisters started to form on my feet and shoulders. Thankfully I had packed Band-Aids which stopped the rubbing and allowed me to keep going. We came to a part of the trail that was cut at the side of the mountain with an extremely steep angle to it. It reminded us of a mountain goat trail and made us nervous to travel it. One slip or false footing and we could fall thousands of feet. Nerves frayed, we all made it. During our hike through this area, we noticed that there had been a landslide. Hundreds of snapped trees and boulders and what looked like half a mountain had gave way - possible avalanche? It left us with a feeling of awe and feeling very small. It was a reminder of nature’s power and force. We made it through the area and came around a corner. We were hit by freezing cold wind and a rocky barren mountain top and realized that we were in the jet stream. We were tired and cold.

We found a large boulder and huddled together and ate lunch. We then continued our hike to Dollar Lake. The hike took us a lot longer than anticipated because we were now hiking in the dark. We reached our goal at approximately 10:00 p.m., and we were completely exhausted. Luckily we came down in elevation and did not have to deal with freezing winds. We somehow managed to set up camp and passed out for the night.

  Day Three: We woke up to the brilliant sites and scenery of Dollar Lake. As we hiked down to Dollar Lake we found a stream coming directly out of the ground. We replenished our water supply with crystal clear, clean water. No need for filtration as it was coming straight out of the ground. We continued hiking to San Bernardino Mountain taking in the beauty of nature. The hike took us back up to 10, 500 feet.

We stopped to eat, rest and enjoy the view. Our friend,  who had been complaining about the weight of his backpack the entire trip, proceeded to pull 24ounce cans of Rock Star energy drinks and large cans of Dinty Moore stew. We all broke into laughter and asked who packed his backpack. Jokingly he said “I’m going to kill my wife when I get home”.  Someone responded, “Didn’t you know you always pack your own pack”.  It’s all a learning curve. We continued on the trail to reach our last campsite which overlooked the valley of San Bernardino. The city lights were beautiful, it was like being up in a plane. We set up camp and enjoyed our last night in the mountains, but we were all eager to go home to a comfortable bed and a hot shower.

    Day Four: Excited to have almost completed our expedition, we continued our hike. Our friend with the overly burdened backpack was trying to give away all of his equipment; sleeping bags, tents etc. exclaiming he was never going to go backpacking again. We made our way down to Angelus Oaks where we were being picked up.

For me this trip was my first ever hiking, backpacking extended stay in the wilderness. This was a spiritual experience and has awoken the need for me to be close to nature and return to the mountain.


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