January 28, 2018 at 5:31 pm #401699
The road on forest service grounds leading to parking was “unmaintained” as far as snow/ice removal. Patches of snow and ice. I just let car cruise very slowly and was fine over it.
You need to park in first lower lot as upper one closed for winter season.
The “road” to the creek looks like it was flooded by the creek itself. Very rocky with creek bigger rocks and uneven.
The trail up to High Creek appeared heavily traveled and was clear to see. It had patches of snow and ice. Used just hike boots going up; micro spikes down as temps were dropping.
After High Creek, it appeared very few people had hiked. The first long switchback trail was completely snowed over; there were only “use trail” few footprints going straight up to the ridge. We did this route and just took it slow. Started with micro spikes but they clogged with snow, so switched to crampons, which worked great.
Once on the ridge, and the trail turned towards San G and the sunnier side of the mountain, there were some more scattered dirt patches but mostly packed snow and the trail along the ridgeline was clearly marked and accessible. For longer dirt stretches took off crampons but mostly left them on rest of the way.
I was glad I brought my snow gaiters, as going up and down that ridge “off trail” there were spots where we sank almost to our knees in the snow. I even slid a tiny bit in crampons on the steeper sections but never where I even needed to self-arrest with my poles, which I was glad I brought for stability and to check snow depth.
Winter hiking took WAY longer and was much more difficult and burned up a lot more energy than when I did San G in September. It may have been the Santa Anas setting in, but I burned through a lot more water too and was glad I filled up at High Creek my 3L both on ascent and descent. We shaved 4 mi off using shortcuts up but it still took a couple hours longer than when I did it in September, and we stopped a mile from the summit cause of time and the fact winds were starting to crank at 40+, so for safety I wanted to be in lower reaches at sunset. As it was, we had to hike from a bit past the lower water crossing though the switchbacks with headlamps on this shorter winter day.
A beautiful hike, my first real winter hike, first time ever using crampons (my Petzel 12 pt strap-on Vasek ones ROCKED BIG TIME).
I was VERY happy I brought these on this hike:
– waterproof, windproof Gore-Tex jacket/shell
– fleece with baclava type hood
– my neck polar fleece cozy from my ski stuff
– my toasty ski mittens
– my trusty poles
– ice axe tho I only used it to secure pack on hillside when I was refilling water at High Creek
– my speedy water filter – water was cold and goooood btw!
– my awesome aforementioned crampons
– lots of food and electrolytes – I was such a hungry hippo cause of the high energy spend!
Gorgeous, gorgeous hike and so peaceful; just saw a few other people. One group had snow shoes and said those worked well above High Creek.January 28, 2018 at 5:36 pm #401701January 29, 2018 at 3:27 am #401704
Great post. Looking forward to getting up there, this coming weekend.January 31, 2018 at 7:39 pm #401709
I am going back Friday 2/2 – hoping to be able to do full trail and summit based on better winds forecast, earlier start, and familiarity with winter conditions rather than spending time searching for best routes as we did before in often virgin snow upper reaches so empty.
I will post if conditions have changed significantly.
Also, in the winter with shorter days, sunset before 6 pm, if you don’t reach the summit by noon or 1 if you are very fast in snow, you likely will not get back to your vehicle by sunset. We had some extremely fast/adept hikers who barreled down the shortcut slopes and were at the summit around same time I turned around a mile from it, 2 pm (they said good call with wind btw to turn back then). They got back to cars 15-20 min before me, and I did the full trail/switchback route back – we all had to hike in darkness over an hour as the melt-freeze cycle was starting. When I drove out of the parking lot, air temp was 37 and I could tell road was going to ice up likely within the next hour.
Also, it is a longer walk to the cars now as you have to park in the farther lot. You need to use the farther bathrooms too, so plan accordingly.
Have a good, safe, fun hike, and bundle up – the snow makes the air chilly and friends were all shivering and warming up in one person’s car when I got back to lot. I had on some of my ski stuff and was just fine :).