San Gorgonio
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The Net

San Gorgonio

On Wednesday I made an attempt at San Gorgonio via the Vivian Creek Trail. I mentioned to my wife about 9 the night before that something didn't feel right. On arriving at the trailhead at 7 am - with several inches of snow on the ground - I noticed a large number of San Bernardino sheriff and San Gorgonio SAR vehicles. A short distance up the trail I met one group of SARs who told me they had a sick hiker at High Camp who they had been trying to get to since 9 at night. Supposedly he had altitude sickness - I thought it strange that altitude sickness at 9200' warranted a full-blown evacuation, but did consider it had snowed that night. The first several miles through the snow were well packed with the boots and snowshoes of a great many rescuers. I wore Sorel boots and instep crampons, the latter more for security than need. During this time I saw a small helicopter go into High Creek, returning a short time later, apparently with the victim. Beyond Halfway Camp the tracks became fewer and the snow deeper and lighter. Here I switched to my homemade PVC & vinyl snowshoes. In some places the tracks went straight up hills with several feet of powder. In others the tracks veered from what I considered the proper route and I had to make my own tracks. On the ridge between Halfway and High Camps, I heard another chopper coming in. It circled me several times, deafening. Apparently he was there to pick up a SAR crew and its equipment down the hill from where I was. I continued on, making High Camp around 12:30. Here I stopped for lunch. As I had set my turnaround time at 2pm because of snow conditions, I realized I would not make the peak until near 3:30, which would give me no cushion in case of trouble, AND I would have to make my own route the rest of the way up. I therefore turned around, but first calling on the PARC repeater for a phone call to my wife to assure her I was ok and was NOT the guy airlifted out in case she heard about it on the news. Paul WN6K was kind enough to make the call. Although I didn't make the peak, the walk was delightful. Fresh snow covered almost everything, and the creeks flowed gently at each of the trail camps. The return trip went much easier, and the snow was melting fast. Several miles were through Sierra Cement (think of a Slurpee). Below Vivian Camp the snow was mostly melted off the trail, unfortunate as that stretch is very steep and rocky. For those interested in conditions on the mountain, the San Gorgonio Volunteer Association has an excellent web page at For trail conditions check 3 areas: Message Board, Trail Conditions, and Wilderness Journal. Watch for changing conditions, and be prepared. Your mileage may vary.

Bill AA6J


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This page was last updated on July 06, 2003.