San Gorgonio Mountain
By: George Schroedter
Leaders: George Schroedter, Richard Schamberg
For years the standard route to Old Greyback was from Poopout Hill - a hike of 16 miles with a gain of 3700'. About 3 years ago the Forest Service decided that too many hikers were going up into this area, so they closed the road to Poopout Hill and moved the trailhead down to Jenks Lake Rd. This made the hike 21.4 miles with a 4600' gain. A much more difficult hike!
Since then, the trail to Mt. San Gorgonio from Fish Creek to the east has become the primary route (even though it is not mentioned in the HPS peak guide.) While this route is 19 miles rt, it is on a smooth and gently graded trail with only a 3400' gain.
At 7 AM Sept. 7, 13 hikers assembled just outside Heart Bar Campground. Just like my San Jacinto hike, there had been thunderstorms in the area just two days before, and there was a definite threat of more. The rain, however, had made the 25 minute drive up to the trailhead almost dust free. A welcome relief since dust on this road at times is horrid.
At 8: 10 we started out on the first leg down into Fish Creek Meadow. I set an easy pace so everyone would be able to enjoy the hike. We had lots of daylight to work with. We passed through Fish Creek Saddle (the turn-off for Grinell and Lake peaks) about 10:30, and took a rest at Mineshaft Saddle just before 11:00. From Mineshaft, which is NE of the San Gorgonio, the Sky High Trail curls around the south slope of the peak and joins the South Fork Trail NW of our goal.
As we headed SE on the final segment, the sky was definitely threatening. Diane Dunbar was particularly concerned, as she was one of the 3 hikers that had been struck by lightning on Castle Rocks in August. Then we heard what sounded like thunder, but it turned out to just be a jet passing high overhead. Phew!
At 12:25 we were all on top. Since it looked pretty dark in the direction of our cars, we took just 35 minutes for lunch.
Rather than make the loop around the peak again, we took the easy shortcut down the east ridge. In just 15 minutes we were back on the trail a short distance from the first switchback. This had shortened our return by about a mile.
Fortunately, we encountered no rain. The temperatures were cool but comfortable, so our needs for water were minimal. At 5:40 we were back at our vehicles. No one had experienced any problems, and the group had stayed together quite well for such a long hike. It was very gratifying to me to see how much everyone had enjoyed this hike.
The other hikers were: Elaine Gbur, Beverly Rawles, Janet & Erv Bartel, Diane Dunbar, Jim Peterson, Larry Sidor, Katherine Hashmall, Kathy McCuskey, Theresa Ebeling, and Dan Rollins.
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