San Bernardino peak, oh man, you taught me a lesson!
Weather! You can’t ignore it! This peak taught me to always keep an eye on the weather forecasts even when you’re hiking the trail already. It also taught me again to hike peaks earlier in the morning!
Our first try to this peak was on Thursday Aug 31st. I checked the NWS site the night prior and there was only a 20% chance of thunderstorms after 11 am. I did not check the forecast when we woke up that morning or when we got to the trailhead. We arrived at the trailhead parking at around 9:30 AM and we were the only one’s there. The trailhead parking is on a rocky dirt road and luckily our truck is high enough to avoid hitting the under side of the truck. We noticed another couple coming up to the trailhead right before we started. We started up the trail from Angelus Oaks at around 9:45 AM and it must have been around 85 degrees. This trail is definitely awesome from beginning with trees and views of the west side of the San Gorgonio wilderness. About half way up, the weather went from patchy clouds to clouds beginning to gather around the peaks as we kept an eye on the peaks. As soon as we passed the campgrounds by Manzanita Flats we noticed the clouds were getting darker. About one hour after it started to rain. At the time we didn’t know we were about one hour away from Limber Pine, and we were caught in the middle of a thunderstorm with lightning hitting everywhere, loud thunder, hail and heavy rain. I was wearing light clothing (shorts and shirt) and no second layer with me and it was getting colder by the minute. We huddled and waited for the rainfall to get lighter to head back instead as it was only getting worse and we were both losing body heat! As soon as the rainfall got lighter we hiked it back fast down the trail. We bumped into the couple we had seen at the parking lot at Manzanita Flats. They proceeded to trek up and were much more prepared for the weather plus they were backpacking it to possibly Limber Pine campgrounds. It took us about 3.5 hours to get back down to the parking lot and it was still raining and thundering. Lesson learned! Bring second layer of clothing, check the weather forecast even while on the trail when weather changes, start early to avoid the monsoon weather that usually forms after 11 AM!
We decided to arm ourselves learning from what we experienced and gear up with what we needed and went back to the trail two days later on Saturday. We got up early and started up the trailhead at 5:45 AM with headlights and wearing a second layer as it was around 65 degrees in the morning. Doing the trek two days before prepped us up to really know the trail much better. We were passed the area where we had huddled during the thunderstorm in 3 hours. This time the weather was much better. Patchy clouds and sunny. It was much more beautiful as well. The views get better the higher you go. We passed Limber Pine and almost went off trail. Phone GPS and a downloaded map got me back on track on the trail leading up to Limber Pine springs. We got up to Washington’s Monument about an hour after passing Limber Pine and finally got to the peak about 30 minutes after passing the monument. It was definitely an accomplishment after what we had gone thru two days before! We took about an hour eating our lunch at the peak and taking pictures and headed back down.
Note for anyone checking this post, check out the sandstone bench a couple minutes after passing or before passing Washington’s Monument. The overlook from this point are a view you shouldn’t miss!
It took us about 4 hours to get back to the parking lot and 9 hours total from trailhead to peak and back down.
San Bernardino Peak, definitely not going to ever forget you!