Last year I had to turn back at Anderson Flat long before reaching my goal of summiting Mt. San Gorgonio due to my inability to find water. Disappointed as I was, it was clearly the right choice not to summit. I photographed my last look at the peak from that trip while thinking about returning someday to reach the summit.
I returned on Monday. When I started up the Vivian Creek Trail I had no intention of spending the night on the summit. My plan was to spend the night at Dry Lake View Camp after summiting. However, my progress up the mountain was slower than anticipated in part due to weighing down my pack with lots of extra water from High Creek Camp (I didn’t want a repeat of last year). By the time I had a clear view of the peak and a sense of how much further I needed to go, I knew I would be chasing light to both summit and make it to my planned destination.
My prior experience in the San Gorgonio Wilderness had me concerned that I might pass the campground without noticing it as the campgrounds aren’t always clearly delineated and campground signage (that I’ve seen so far) is subtle if it even exists. I started thinking about last year’s experience and whether or not I should risk trying to locate Dry Lake View if I couldn’t reach it before dark. It was at this point that I starting considering spending the night on the summit.
I reached the junction where I needed to decide whether or not to summit early enough that is was still possible that I could both summit and make it down to the campground. The weather conditions were excellent. I was still warm enough to be in short sleeves, the sky was mostly clear, and there was very little wind. Being so close to the summit, I didn’t want to miss it a second year in a row, so I headed up. On my way I started seeing numerous clearly defined and level campsites with wind breaks made of rock.
While I was exploring the summit and seeing so many great campsites, the thought of rushing down to try and make it to another campground before dark was unappealing. So, I decided to set up camp.
No longer in a rush, I savored the rest of the night on the summit walking around and watching the changing light as the sun went down. I found several vantage points to watch it disappear from view.
I found a spot with a great view of the sunset where I ate my dinner and enjoyed watching the lights come on in the city below.
The rest of the night I enjoyed looking up at the stars and down at the city lights from a variety of spots.
The following day I continued my traverse of Mt. San Gorgonio by heading down the Sky High Trail where the views were breathtaking.
I met my friend Scott at Dry Lake.We hiked down the Dry Lake Trail and then the South Fork Trail and Scott drove me back to my car at the Vivian Creek Trailhead on the other side of the mountain.