5/12/16 A trip with Dad to San Bernadino Peak near San Gorgonio. 16 miles and 5,000' of gain on nice singletrack, together with some unexpected snow trekking, while seeing only a few other humans, always makes for a great day!
1 We hit the trail right around 9:00am. The climb starts quick, but the trail is beautiful, soft singletrack with lots of tree cover.
2 Our first view of San Bernadino Peak (on the right) and East San Bernadino Peak (on the left).
3 Our first snow sighting. I had grown so used to drought conditions that it really hadn't occurred to me that snow might be an issue here in mid-May.
4 The peaks getting closer slowly but surely.
5 Gee, that looks like quite a bit of snow up there...
6 The trail winding through dense meadows of Manzanita chapparal.
7 Great views of the valley below and the San Gabriels in the distance.
8 Dad making his way through the Manzanita.
9 The summit looks so close...
10 Dad powering along. At well over 8,000' now, you can definitely start to feel the effects of the altitude.
11 Stopping for a late lunch.
12 The rising moon alongside a prominent rock formation.
13 Starting to get into some bigger patches of snow now.
14 The pace starts to slow a bit as the snow patches get bigger. Once we pass Limber Pine Camp, Dad decides to call it a day. He graciously agrees to wait and let me try to summit. There's still over 1,200' of climb to the summit, and given the increasing snow, I'm not sure if I'll make it. But I defintiely want to give it a try...
15 Dad's picture of me heading out. I ended-up losing the trail in the snow just a couple hundred yards further. I had to resort to pulling out the topo map and picking a route towards the summit. It looked like a shorter but steeper route than the actual trail. As it turns out, it was also probably through the deepest snow area on the North face of the peak. Not great route planning by me for sure.
16 My hopes of sumitting are going downhill fast. I'm breaking trail now through snow drifts 2-3 feet deep. Here I'm post-holed almost up to my crotch with my trekking pole buried down to the handle. I almost lost my shoe at the bottom of a post-hole like this multiple times.
17 The conditions quickly alternate from post-holing, to slush, to ice depending on tree cover etc. Here I was attempting a traverse across an exposed, icy hillside and ate it. I ended-up in an out-of-control slide and actually had to self arrest with my trekking poles! Here's looking back up at my skid marks maybe 20' up the hill. Fortunately, the hill bottomed out not too far below, so the chance of anything going seriously wrong was low, but it definitely got my adrenaline going!
18 I had long ago given-up on following the route of the real trail. I had climbed-up a creek ravine that, according to the topo map, pointed towards the summit. Here's a look down the slope that I'm climbing. As usual, the photo doesn't convey just how steep it is.
19 At some point, I'm pretty sure I can see the summit. I'm not sure if it's actually San Bernadino Peak, but it will be my summit for the day no matter what it is. The day had turned into a full-on snow trek at this point. 100% breaking trail, post-holing, slipping and sliding, almost breaking my poles, almost losing my shoes, freezing my hands, bloody knuckles and elbows from wipeouts. What fun!
20 Almost to the top and the views are starting to make it worthwhile. There's Big Bear Lake in the distance. There are no other tracks anywhere, so it looks like I'm the only human that's been up here in a while.
21 Made it!! And it actually is San Bernadino Peak at 10,649'. There's hardly any snow here on the exposed summit.
22 San Gorgonio. It looks like there's a lot less snow around the summit there.
23 San Jacinto.
24 A rare chance to get both San Gorgonio and San Jacinto in the same picture. Probably not too many places where you can do that.
25 The customary 360 summit video.
26 Heading back down now. As usual, the photo doesn't convey how steep this is. I'm hauling full speed to get back in time, heel stomping in the steep soft sections, while practically skiing down the icier sections. But fortunately I was able to follow my tracks almost the entire way back, only losing them briefly a few times.
27 Made it back to Dad right on time! Evidently he was almost eaten while he was sleeping by a hawk that thought he was a carcass. Here he poses with a cairn he created while I was away.
28 The sun is starting to get low across the chapparal as we head back down.
29 I always love the colors of the early evening sun filtering through the forest.
30 Another beautiful SoCal mountain sunset.
31 We made good time coming down and are back to the car by 7:30pm where Dad had a cold one waiting. Another great day on the trail!