San Gorgonio, “Old Greyback”, the highest peak in Southern California at 11,503 feet. That was our goal for the day. Ted Markus and I reached the Vivian Creek trailhead at 4 am. Donning our headlamps, we set off along the service road next to Mill Creek. After about a half-mile, we crossed the dry creek and onto the trail. The next mile or so was a steep climb. Thankfully in the darkness, we could only see right in front of us. Later during our return, we realized the steepness of the section. I had read the trail guides, and they weren’t kidding.
The trail followed Vivian Creek for a spell. So far we were both feeling good. The sun began to finally rise over the mountains, revealing the beauty of the area. A warm glow shone on Mt. Baldy to the west. We encountered a few other hikers along the trail.
As we approached the switchbacks, the elevation was starting to get to me some, but we kept pushing upward. After about 7 miles and at 10,000 feet, I was really starting to question if I could summit. With Ted’s encouragement, I continued on.
Once we broke the tree line, I found my second wind. Also, the summit was also in view. The traverse went fairly smooth and soon we were atop San Gorgonio!!
Unlike San Jacinto, the summit sign was still there. Ted and I recreated “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure“ pose since we had just completed the A16 3 Peak Challenge!! I would say about 40 or so others were also there on the summit, include several other 3-Peakers. In fact, there was one hiker who was attempting the 1-day version of the challenge!
After a break and photos, we began our descent. A sense of accomplishment filled me as we began our 9.5 miles back to the car. I knew the summit took a bit longer than planned, but I did it! Now the question was, will Ted hurt himself on the descent? On Mt. Baldy he hurt his wrist. On San Jacinto, he twisted his ankle. Sure enough, he slightly twisted his ankle again. Not as bad as last time, but enough. That was ok, as my knee began to ache. We kept cruising carefully down the mountain. The day was warming up, but we had plenty of fluids. I did opt to filter some water at the first crossing of Vivian Creek, in part since it was nice and cool. It also served as a nice break to let my knee and feet have a rest.
A Search and Rescue helicopter flew overhead. We were unable to understand what they were broadcasting. It appears the heat did get to someone. We never found out what actually happened.
Soon, we were closing in on the end of the journey, and we slowly made our way down that steep section. Back at the car, we peeled off our boots and changed in something less disgusting. We swung by the University of Redlands to drop off a few things for my daughter. Then some food and nice flight from Hanger24 before the drive home. Now back to the 100 Peak Challenge!
I am an avid peak bagger, sometimes backpacker, and former sea-kayaker living in San Diego. In 2019, I became the third person to complete the San Diego 100 Peak Challenge. Not stopping with that accomplishment, I set my sights on the harder San Diego Sierra Club 100 Peak list, which I completed in 2021. In addition, I have conquered several Six-Pack of Peaks challenges (SoCal, San Diego, and Arizona-Winter). Beyond attempting the San Diego Sierra Club 100 Peak list a second time, I am looking forward to exploring new summits and new adventures across the southwest.