Experienced a boot malfunction last Sat (8/21) on the way up to Baldy using the village/bear canyon trail. Purchased a new pair of boots on Sun (8/22). Managed to get in 3 mini-training hikes during the week after work for a total of 12 miles. Along with wearing the boots around home whenever possible.
Early July, planned training hikes for the local So Cal mountains, focusing on building up the elevation gain on each hike. Submitted permit requests in July for August hikes as a few of the trails had quotas.
This was the weekend for San Gorgonio, elev 11,499. Had a permit for the Vivian Creek trail, one of the steepest routes up to the summit. Had to decide to stay with the planned hike or alter based on the new boots. I went for the planned hike with the attitude of this was a boot break-in hike and not a summit hike. If I made the summit, great, but that was not the goal.
Got to the TH parking lot at 5:50am, heading towards finding the trail at 6:10am. A little chilly, a good practice on the layers, as I had on the fleece vest over a short sleeve shirt and long sleeve trail shirt to start.
For anyone that hasn't been to this TH, the first part of the trail, from the parking lot to the creek crossing is under renovation. Follow the path to the dried wash/river bed and from there walk 'upstream' so to speak, following one yellow ribbon to the next, tied to trees, downed logs, brown forest service poles, etc to find the crossing. Quite the scavenger hunt first thing in the morning for someone who has never been to this trailhead. I usualy try to start around 5:30am, but the 6am start made it a little easier to find the yellow ribbon trail since the night sky was getting lighter. Would have been very difficult in the dark with a headlamp.
Once I started up the trail, it didn't take long for the layers to start comming off. Made my first 'foot' rest stop at Vivian Creek camp. Very nice area with plenty of water flowing in the creek. Great trail between Vivian Creek camp and Halfway camp. Gentle incline, plenty of shade, wildflowers and creek crossings. Somehow I missed the sign on the trail for High Creek, and went down towards Halfway camp. Realized something was wrong when the very well desginated trail ended at some obvouis camp sites, but no trail past the camp sites. Turned around and found where I made my mistake and got back on the trail and headed up. About a .75 mile and 20 minute side trip. Just more milage for the boots.
My first hot spot occurred just in time for a stop at High Creek campground. About 5 miles up the trail. Took some time with both boots off and feet up on a log. Nice break, but noticed the wind was starting to pick up. Had the trail to myself and really enjoying the solitude when the first of many faster hikers went by. They did stop to ask if I was ok, I assured them all was good and thanks for asking.
(High Creek camp is the last chance for water on the trail.)
Put the boots back on and headed up the trail to switchbacks and closer to the summit. High Creek is 9230' and I was really feeling good and recalled my first attempt in June at Cucamonga Peak, which is 8859' and I struggled with the altitude. I made it up to 9230' with no struggles, other than a hot spot. The switchbacks topped off at a ridge that has a great view of San Jancito. (....DUG did you see me wave to you and your group
) The wind grew cold and the higher in elevation, the colder and stronger the wind. Another good prep for Whitney. The sky was a beautiful blue and cloud free.
I was over 10k and closing in on 11k and starting to feel it a little, my slow pace was slowing and my feet were finally starting to say 'Hey, you got new boots here, what in the world are you doing?' I kept trudging up and I could see people walking towards the summit, I was about a mile or less away and noticed it was noon, my usual turnaround time. I sat for 5mins or so and finally decided that I was starting to succumb to summit fever. And turned around.
I had more boot/foot stops on the way down than I had on the way up. It was a nice day once I got below a ridgeline and meet a lot of very nice folks on the way up, some training for Whitney, a few were participating in the 7 summits of Big Bear and this was the last summit, a few Sierra Club hikers, and 4 very nice dogs (all had packs to carry their food and water).
Overall, it was a long (11 hrs car-to-car) good day. I'll put this trail along with the Baldy Village trail in the 'need to complete' bucket. Baldy should be complete in Oct. This trail may have to wait until next summer.