Monday, December 6, 2010

Backpacking San Gorgonio

This was not going to be easy from the start. San Gorgonio is the most difficult of the 10,000 foot peaks to begin with. Add several inches of snow, and then a layer of ice on top of that, and we had some tough trekking this weekend. We would have needed crampons to reach the summit, but we did reach a spectacular ridge with 360 degree views. Along the way, we enjoyed s'mores, toasted our socks around a campfire, and even made snow angels (sort of -- see below). The trip started at 6,000 feet, and we hiked five miles on the first day to an altitude of 9,200 feet. We stopped at High Creek campground, set up tents, and ate the best dinner we could remember (why does food always taste better after a long hike?). Ryan, Shaun, Sidney and Jordan then helped collect some dead wood for the fire, while Ray carved marshmallow roasting sticks for the s'mores. The crackling heat roused the weary from the warmth of their sleeping bags, and we all stood around for awhile telling ghost stories and drying socks over the fire. An early rise allowed many of us to hike up to 10,500 feet, where we were stopped by thick ice. But we celebrated the view, and then headed back down to camp to pack up and head out. In-n-Out burgers on the way home tasted almost as good as dinner the night before.

Jordan, Will, Ryan, Terence, Shaun, Vinson, Sidney, Tina, Rita, Mr. Dahlstrom, and Ray at the start.

Tina and Rita lead us through the early stages of the hike, across a riverbed and toward the mountain path.

Jordan found this tree at Vivian Creek campsite, about a mile into the trip.

Ray made the most out of his wheel-less skateboard, breaking it out at every rest stop to make new snowboard runs.

Tina and Sidney take a break.

Right behind our campsite was a scenic view up the valley.

Sunset on the first night revealed layers of mountains under layers of clouds.

Rita, Shaun, Mr. Dahlstrom, Sidney, Ray, Ryan and Jordan reap the rewards of a fire on a cold night. A couple hours later, it had melted a four-foot wide hole in the snow and kept us all warm well into the night.

A marshmallow roasted to perfection makes for mighty good s'mores.

The next day, we set out to get as far as we could. When Will told us he would be making a snow angel in his speedo at the top, we thought he was joking. We didn't know he had a speedo, and we weren't quite at the top. But then he made a snow angel in his speedo. We wish he had been joking.

At which point the other boys were inspired to be ridiculous. For the record, it's about 32 degrees at an altitude of 10,500 feet.

Since it was so icy, it was much faster to slide down. We dug our heels in to steer and break. Here, Ryan hits a patch of soft snow that brings him to a halt. Photo courtesy of Rita Lo.

Taking a break to enjoy the sun on the way down.

Looking back to Mt. Baldy (peeking above a thin wisp of cloud) from San Gorgonio.

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