6/23/16 19 miles, 5,400' gain Most all the San Gorgonio trails were closed due to a fire last summer, so I took the only viable route. It was my first time doing Vivian Creek in non-snowy conditions.
1 On the Vivian Creek trail at 9:39am for Day 2 of the Challenge. My right Achilles had really been bothering me at the end of Day 1, so I was hoping it would hold-up for today. Particularly since today was likely to be the hardest of the three.
2 I wish "high water" was still a risk.
3 The firt time I've seen the Mill Creek bed totally dry. Definitely a dissapointing sight.
4 The trail starts climbing fast, but it's nice singletrack.
5 Reaching Vivian Creek at the top of the switchbacks always feels great. It's probably my second favorite spot in SoCal behind Wellman's Cienga.
6 I've taken this same picture a couple of times in the snow.
7 Leaving the creek bed. This area is hard to navigate in the snow. Much easier today!
8 Climbing again now, and the singletrack is top notch.
9 A sea of chaparral.
10 A look down the valley with Mt. Baldy in the distance.
11 A small cascade below High Creek Camp. It's great to see some flowing water.
12 High Creek. The last backpacking camp before the summit.
13 First view of the summit. It's still a long way away!
14 A great view of San Jacinto across the Coachella Valley.
15 Almost above the treeline. You can see the trail ahead traversing below the ridgline.
16 Now making the traverse with the summit up ahead.
17 Looking downhill from the trail. This was definitely one of the scariest traverses I've done in the snow. It's steeper than it looks, and it's probably about 1,000' to the bottom of the slope. And when everything is covered in snow, it really increases the sense of vertigo.
18 A little false summit with the real summit actually behind it.
19 Made it! Two summits down, one to go. 2:52pm and feeling pretty good.
20 The last little patch of snow on the mountain.
21 San Jacinto from the San Gorgonio summit.
22 View of the valley below.
23 360 summit video.
24 There are some pretty ornate tent shelters on the summit. Some of them are perched right on the edge of steep dropoffs. Must be an amazing place to camp in good weather, particularly if you have the summit to yourself.
25 You can just barely see the North edge of Big Bear Lake from the summit.
26 I hung out on the summit for about 40 minutes without seeing anyone, so I had to take a selfie for my official summit photo. I'm pretty sure I was the last the person to summit for the day. It's pretty rare to have solitude on any of the Big 3 summits during the summer, but it's an amazing experience. Particularly on San Gorgonio, which definitely feels the most remote of the three.
27 Heading back down with great afternoon views.
28 Past Vivian Creek and heading back down the switchbacks in the hazy late afternoon light.
29 Made it back to the Mill Creek bed and then to the trailhead at 6:46pm for a successful end to Day 2.
30 Before leaving, I took a quick sidetrip out to Big Falls, the tallest waterfall in SoCal. There are multiple sections to it, but you can only really see one at a time. Here's the top section, probably 100' or so. The total vertical drop for the entire sequence of falls is supposed to be around 500'.
31 There are also some great cascades below the falls. Now it's time to head home and prepare for Day 3.