2013 San Gorgonio Trip Report
July 13/14, 2013
The adventure began early………
We met at 6:30am on Saturday morning in the Carl’s Junior parking, and after gear checks and some last minute preparations; we were on the road heading up to the San Gorgonio Wilderness – destination Fish Creek Trail head!
San Gorgonio Wilderness is home to the highest peak in Southern California (San Gorgonio Peak, aka “Old Greyback” – 11,500ft) and is off Highway 38 close to Big Bear. For the most part, the car ride was uneventful; most of the scouts had to be rousted from a deep slumber when we stopped at the Ranger Station in Mill Creek for last minute updates on water, weather, etc.
However, the drive became “interesting” once we turned onto the dirt forest road, about seven miles from the trail head. In our rented 4-wheel drive SUV, we counted off each of the seven miles, as we slowly climbed from 6,900 ft. to 8,000 ft. on a rough, narrow, and twisting road up the mountain side with beautiful panoramic views of the forest below (well below in some spots!).
At the trail head after a final gear check, a reminder to hydrate, and “buddying-up”, we started west down Fish Creek Trail headed for Fish Creek Camp (8,400 feet) about three miles into the forest. Initially the trail is slightly downhill, and passes by Fish Creek Meadow on the right side of the trail. The trail is an enjoyable hike and shaded by Jeffry pine and White fir trees most of the way.
Once we reached the intersection of the Fish Creek and Aspen Grove trails (a little less than halfway), the trail starts going uphill and the group set a more deliberate pace. During this part of the trip, we passed two very low-water creeks, but decided not to refill our water (we’d heard the better water source was above our camp).
At midday, we arrived at Fish Creek camp; set-up camp and ate a cold lunch of sandwiches, fruit, and trail snacks. While our initial plan called for some Wilderness First Aid and other outdoor training, this was quickly abandoned in favor of throwing the football, making new friends (there were a number of other campers at the Fish Creek camp ground) playing cards and/or just relaxing for the rest of the afternoon.
Later a group went to the get more water for dinner from the creek about a half mile further up the trail. It was the first time for several scouts to filter and/or purify water from an out-door water source. For most, dinner consisted of a smorgasbord of freeze -dried foods: chicken and rice, mac and cheese, spaghetti and meatballs and/or beef stroganoff. Who knew you could eat so well on freeze-dried food!
Fires are not allowed in the San Gorgonio Wilderness so after some quite conversation and a quick check to make sure there was no food in the tents, everyone turned in for the night. It had been a long, eventful day.
The next morning, after a slow start and a late breakfast, some of the group began a Father’s Day hike up to Fish Creek Saddle. It was turning out to be a terrific day - sunny and warm. Since the trail is not as shaded past Fish Creek Camp, we took a number of water/rest breaks on our way to the top, a 3.3 mile trek with some relatively steep but not daunting switchbacks.
Once on top (9,900ft – no water), the view was not as spectacular as expected - too many trees to see the view. However, we did make new friends; Troop 50 from West Los Angeles had camped the night before at Fish Creek Saddle and many of their Scouts and Scouters had summited San Gorgonio that morning. San Gorgonio Summit (11,499') is 5.5 miles further up ….sounds like a great future trip!
The return trip to camp was easy walk down and we were quickly back at the water source above camp. We refilled our water, returned to camp and began to pack-up for the trip back to the trail head. Once everyone was ready, we set a brisk pace and were quickly back at the trail head and heading for home!
Everyone reported to have enjoyed the trip and was looking forward to the next one.
Scouts – Timothy, Andy, Davey, Will, Anthony Scouters – Mr. Luoma, Mr. and Mrs. Lu, Mr. Serio