Mt. San Gorgonio, 11,503 feet, is considered one of the ‘Big Three’ peaks in Southern California (the others being Mt. Baldy and Mt. San Jacinto) and was training hike #9 of 10 for us. We decided to do it as a 2 day backpack, following Modern Hiker‘s route via the South Fork Trail.
Since we did this trip back in July, the details are a little vague for us now. It was a pretty tough hike up to our campsite at Dry Lake (5.6 miles, 1800’ gain), but the trail was well made and there was some nice shade and streams to enjoy along the way.
The camping area near Dry Lake was reasonably crowded, but the view of the meadow beneath the mountain was worth it. We had some fun taking pictures in the evening light before dinner.
We made an early start the next morning because we had a tough climb to the summit (5.7 miles, 2000′ of gain) and then a long hike back to the car, bringing the total miles for the day to over 17 miles.
Nathan checking out the small wet section of Dry Lake in the morning
The hike to the summit involved a lot of switchbacks but a small memorial for the wreckage of a plane crash made for an interesting break spot.
Once we met up with the Sky High trail and got a glimpse of the Tarn (a bizarre looking valley) we knew we were getting close.
Soon we found ourselves above tree line and headed up the last 0.4 miles to the summit through the rocky terrain. Finally we reached the summit and took a much needed rest, taking in the amazing views.
After we were at the top for a little while, a large group of hikers started trickling in, apparently also training for Mt. Whitney, but as a day hike. The very crowded feel at the peak helped motivate us to head back down to camp to pack up. We got back down a little earlier than expected, leaving time for a short nap and much needed rest for our tired feet before hiking the last 5.7 miles out to the car. Overall it was a great training hike and definitely confirmed to us that doing Mt. Whitney as a 3 day backpacking trip would make it much more fun – hiking over 17 miles in a day was pretty tough and didn’t leave much time for taking photos!