For a while my lab friend Byron had been planning an overnight backpack on San Gorgonio. After staying later in lab Friday than anticipated, I realized that the Sierras were out of reach for the weekend and I would need different plans to get me outside. With tentative peak bagging with John and Uwe on Monday, I decided to head into the mountains with Byron and two of his friends Saturday.
Friday night I packed my gear and really tried to shed some weight compared to my Shasta backpack. I decided on a 30L backpack and after looking at quite pleasant evening temperatures decided to skip the tent again. I pared down my clothes and only brought the bare minimum. After packing water, food, stove, gas, pot, sleeping bag, ten essentials, and extra clothes my pack weighed in at 16 pounds. Success! The 30L pack had a bunch of extra space too. I probably could have gone lighter, but I decided to bring some extra food.
Saturday morning Byron picked me up at 7am and we were off. After a brief stop at McDonalds to eat horrendous slop, and a stop to get more fuel we arrived at the trailhead. I quickly assembled my gear and was waiting on the others when Byron started to sound frantic. Apparently, in the hustle of the morning, he forgot to put his food in the car. We were now at the trailhead with 3/4 the food we were supposed to have. Unfortunately for Byron, forgetting his food meant he was going to subside on a diet of tuna fish, goldfish, and gummy bears.
We started up the South Fork Trail and I quickly realized I should not be in the lead. I would have pushed the pace and my pack was significantly smaller than the others. Byron had a 60L and Dan had an 85L pack. I dropped to the rear of the pack. We hiked at a leisurely pace to South Fork Stream and took a lunch break. I shared my fruit and was happy to ditch some heavy food stuffs. In another hour or so we arrived at Dry Lake which was very much not dry and teeming with life. We set down our gear and took another break. After establishing a tentative camping spot we went for the summit. On the way we met Ranger Dan who was quite pleasant but told us we were going to camp in an illegal spot. Alas, we would move camp in the evening. It took us three hours to reach the summit and the views did not disappoint. It was Bryon, Dan and Scott’s first time on the peak. It was my second time on the peak since June 🙂
Descending back to camp took another 2.5 hours but luckily for me I found a hiking pole ditched along the side of the trail. Initially I thought it was broken but realized it was in perfect working order! Boom. Now I have a set of (mismatched) hiking poles. At around 8:15pm we arrived back at Dry Lake. After moving our camp to a legal spot, we went hunting for water. Lodge Pole Spring was flowing nicely. We tried to find the source of the water but failed. As I was resigning myself to filtering water for the first time this year, Ranger Dan appeared out of nowhere and told us he drinks straight from the spring without filtering! Streak continued!
Camping Saturday night was uneventful. We were a tired crew and everyone went straight to bed. I brought a deck of cards and nobody wanted to play. I stayed up a bit and looked at the stars as the moon was at ~3% illumination. Sunday morning we woke up, ate breakfast and hiked out.