July 10, 2017 at 9:54 am #388466Philip YParticipant
July 9th, I hiked from the Momyer Creek Trailhead to San Gorgonio Peak and then exiting via Vivian Creek. This ended up being a 22.95 mile hike with a total elevation gain 6389 feet. I showed up at the Trailhead about 0445. There were two others that were going to hike with me, but they never showed. So, I decided to step off at 0520 on my own.
The hike starts off by crossing the creek which is flowing pretty well. Follow the worn path down through the rocks and there is an obvious place to cross without getting your feet wet. Poles help for balance. The first part of the trail, from the trailhead to the Momyer Creek Trace Trail, is 2.9 miles and has an elevation gain of 1840’. Miles two and three are the steepest. When I arrived I took a planned break. While I was refueling and resting, I saw two hikers coming down the trace trail. They had started off from the Momyer Creek Trailhead at 1230 in the morning. They were now heading back to their car to drive over to the Skyline trail (C2C) to check it out.
There is a sign posted that has an arrow pointing up the trace trail that says, “San Bernardino Peak”. I did that trail a few weeks ago. Great challenge! Continuing northeast the trail becomes the Momyer-Alger Creek Trail. Alger Creek Camp is at the 3.9 mile mark. Great quick stroll where you end up giving back 320’ in elevation. I didn’t go down to Alger Creek , but you can hear the water following pretty well.
From Alger Creek Camp it is 1.6 miles to the Falls Creek Trail. The elevation gain here was only about 500’. This is the 5.5 mile mark. At this point, you can head down a half mile to Dobbs Camp. A friend and I hiked to Dobb’s Camp in mid-June. We had lunch and waded around in the water for a little while before heading back. That was about a 12 mile round trip. Fun hike if you just want to get out and hike without peaking!
Heading north and then northeast on the Falls Creek Trail it is about 1.9 miles to Saxton Camp with an elevation gain of 1000’. Saxton Camp at the 7.4 mile mark. About ten minutes before Saxton Camp is a pretty good creek to refill you water supply. I decided to go ahead and top off, although I really didn’t need too. I met two campers who had just refilled their water supply and were heading down. I also met another hiker and his dog. They had spent the previous night at San Gorgonio Peak. He said that aside from some rain and thunder, the weather was excellent. Light wind, no lighting and temps in the 50’s.
From Saxton Camp it is 2.3 miles to Dollar Lake Saddle at almost 10,000’. These 2.3 miles have an elevation gain of just over 1500’. There is another excellent water source at Plumme Meadow about a mile in from Saxton Camp. I struggled on this leg. Especially on the last two long switchbacks. They seemed to never end and were relentless on my legs. It was at this point where the weather, which had been perfect up to this point, began to change. As I began the final switchback, looking northeast toward Dollar Lake Saddle, I could see the clouds coming in and it began to thunder.
At the saddle, I took a much needed break. Refueled and rested for about 15 minutes. There were two tents set up at the saddle, but I couldn’t tell if anyone was there. While I was eating and reviewing my map, it began sprinkle (heavy drops) and the thunder became more frequent and a bit louder. I toyed with the idea of heading back, but the rain drops were minimal and I reasoned that it was only 3.2 miles to the Summit/Vivian Creek sign and if I had to I could head down then without summiting. So, I donned my poncho and stepped off for the next leg.
Dry Lake View Camp is 1.2 miles from the Saddle and has an elevation gain of 570’. My legs were still tired and about half way to the camp the rain, hail, and thunder came in full force. It was coming down hard and the hail was stringing any parts of me that were exposed. I hiked straight through Dry Lake View Camp and on to the next 2 mile leg and 700’ in elevation gain. I saw one hiker coming down. We said hello and continued on our way. I’m assuming that the tents at the saddle were hers, since she was carrying a very light day pack and had no rain gear on. I had made up my mind at this point that once I reached the Summit/Vivian Creek sign that I was not going to summit. Three tenths of a mile short of the summit, but it was coming down pretty hard. The thunder was loud and frequent, and despite my poncho, I was completely soaked and cold. I remember thinking, as I pushed to get out of there, that my legs weren’t tired anymore (adrenaline). Amazing how that works
As luck would have it, about a half mile from the sign, the rain, hail and thunder stopped. The Clouds opened up and by the time I reached the sign, although still wet, I had warmed up quite a bit. I hiked to the Mineshaft Trail Sign about two tenths from the peak. Dropped my pack and continued on to the summit.
I spent about 15 minutes there and headed down. Coming down I made a planned stopped at High Creek. Three point three miles down from the summit. As I stopped to check my water supply and eat, there was a young lady (camping at High Creek with her friend) who also happened to be getting water. She invited me to join them while I ate. The two of them were doing the exact same route I just did except in reverse and they were camping at High Creek Camp. Then after summiting the next day hiking to Saxton Camp for the night and then out the Momyer Creek trailhead. They were out getting ready for their trip on the JMT. I told them I had a friend I met and hiked with in June that was doing the JMT with her roommate at the same time. Long story short, these two ladies were hiking with her. Small world!
I probably spent more time there talking then I should have, so I didn’t take many breaks after that and descended quite rapidly. Only stopping to say hello to other hikes and ask if they were okay. I past several groups going down. Some had camped and then summited. Several were turned back due to the weather and very few others had actually summited. There were a couple groups heading up to camp. One at High Creek and one at the summit.
It took me 12 hours and 27 minutes to complete this 23 mile hike. There were a dozen or so cars in the parking lot but no one was leaving. So I began the 1.5 mile walk back to my car at the Momyer Creek Trailhead. About 8 or 9 cars passed my on the way, but no one stopped. I was pretty much done (physically) when I reached my car, but I was excited about the hike and grateful that I had completed it.November 28, 2017 at 9:51 pm #399733Natalie CParticipant
I’d love to try your route in reverse, same as the ladies you ran into at High Creek!
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