|Trailhead||South Fork Trail|
Wow. Wow wow wow what a hike.
Liz and I started nice and early from Jenks Lake Rd up the South Fork Trail toward Dry Lake, which is, of the three main routes, the longest. The first few miles are meandering through a burned out forest covering rolling hills where in turns oak, fern and grasses are starting to take back over – I can only imagine how beautiful it is in the spring. Eventually we arrived at a trail junction where the creek was rushing across several parts of the trail, really a lot of water here and beautiful greenery to go with it. A ranger was posted up at the junction checking permits so after he looked ours over we headed on our way.
After the creek the trail starts to climb a bit more and our pace began to slow. Fortunately it’s not much further to Dry Lake where we stopped and set up camp. We had lunch and I wanted to take a little longer break but Liz was eager to push on to the summit – I’m glad she was because we nearly didn’t make it back to camp before dark!
Heading up it was a little difficult to find the trail out of the Dry Lake area but eventually we were making our way up toward the massive peaks looming over the hillside. The climb up is pretty relentless until you get to the trail that winds around the south side of the peak (I forget the name – top of the world trail?) and you fight your way through the rubble to the summit with a final push to the top.
The summit of San Gorgonio is a little odd because there are other hills and rises around and it’s hard to tell that you are actually at the highest point, in fact, looking across the valley San Jacinto looks higher than where you are! We met a really cool couple on top who were planning to backpack, hike out the next day and then hike San Jacinto the next day!
The hike back down to camp was pretty rough. We were both tired and I was getting worried that we didn’t have enough water since I wasn’t able to find the spring near camp and there was no water above it on the trail but we did make it back down to camp just at dusk (and ended up having water to spare). It got pretty dark and pretty cold pretty quick but we cooked up some grub (and ate with makeshift spoons I whittled out of bark since we forgot cutlery) and had a bit of box wine to unwind.
Overnight it got pretty darn cold, cold enough that the condensation on the inside of our tent froze… so when I got up in the morning to make coffee and breakfast I was trying to hover over the boiling water to stay warm despite my several layers of shirts and beanie! After a relaxing morning breaking down camp we made the quick hike out pausing for a mini-picnic at the old equestrian camp a mile or so from the trailhead. Once we completed our mission we made it out to Big Bear this time (my first visit) and had lunch and beers at Fire Rock Burgers, a cool little spot with good beers and burgers but apparently a pretty terrible salad and made the long, winding drive back down to Hawthorne.