The Other 6 Peaks of San Gorgonio Wilderness
A bit harder than the 11 peak SGW hike.
26 miles, 8500 ft
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Ok a lazy trip report. Last year we did 11 “peaks” of the San Gorgonio Wilderness in a very nice, hard hike out of Forest Falls. There were still 6 peaks left that would have added significant work and made a very long day ala Rick Kent. So the plan was to do another hike for those peaks, and that day was yesterday.
My initial plan was to start out of South Fork, but I thought that would just be way too many miles. Then I thought about Vivian Creek, but realized that would be probably 10,000 of gain. Finally I thought I could get away with a direct assault on Grinnell via it’s north ridge. This would keep the total elevation gain “low” (7500) and keep the miles ~ 20.
We got a permit for the Lost Creek trailhead although I wasn’t planning on really being on it. However, looking at the lower terrain (no pic), I didn’t think it would be fun or fast to go cross country at this altitude. Not that there was heavy brush, but there was enough to slow us down. So we opted to start on the Lost Creek trail, and then diverge onto Grinnell’s NW ridge instead of N. This worked out pretty well as we gained enough elevation on the trail to allow the vegetation to clear up before getting on the ridge.
And eventually it turns into a really nice forested area for about 2,000 ft till the top of Grinnell.
The problem is that the the ridge has some flat sections, and it curves around to Grinnell, and combined with some additional miles on the Lost Creek trail, we probably lost time compared to what I thought we could do on the north ridge (in theory).
From Grinnell, we dropped down to Fish Creek saddle, and then headed toward Mineshaft saddle and along the Sky High trail. It was nice being on trail for a bit following the x-country up Grinnell. We dropped down to the Tarn and headed up the steep face of Bighorn Mtn.
Bighorn was a tough climb with scree, but Dragons Head was a bit easier but definitely a cooler and more imposing peak. There is a use trail up the NE side looking down all the steep, crumbly rock to the SE.
At this point, we were probably about halfway but had already been out about 6 hours. I thought we could get it done in 10 hours – I don’t know what I was thinking! We headed back up to the Sky High trail and back to Mineshaft saddle. We did a quick jaunt up Zahniser, then back down and over to Lake Peak.
Lake has a nice little summit with good views to the W and NW.
We headed off east to Ten Thousand Foot ridge. 2 guys took a break from the peakbagging and we would meet up with them back on our descent. It seemed I wasn’t picking a great route as we were continuously climbing over fallen trees and scrambling over rocks. It took longer than expected to reach the 10 K ridge high point, but were rewarded with great views.
We headed back to Fish Creek saddle x-country, yet more slow going. Finally we made it but had yet another 500 ft climb up to Grinnell, but at least there was a use trail.
The way back down seemed never ending; even though it was a ridge it seemed we weren’t losing elevation that quickly. Finally, around 7:30 (we started at 6:30), we hit the Lost Creek trail and took that back as it got dark out.
We finished with a whopping 26 miles, and 8500 ft gain, and a lot of cross-country. It was one of my worst underestimations, partly because of the changed route. Everyone talks about the “9-peak challenge”, but I think this hike was even more of a challenge.
I’m still not sure on what the optimal route on bagging these peaks would be. Perhaps using the south fork trail, or Grinnell’s north ridge. Well actually Fish Creek trailhead could be the best, but with the long drive and dirt road I wasn’t considering that.
It is cool that all these peaks really were different, even being in the same area. Different terrains, different trees, different views. A great time overall.
This entry was posted on Sunday, August 22nd, 2010 at 10:14 am and is filed under Trip Report, Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.