Mt. San Gorgonio
August 19, 2005

I grew up in southern California and most of my backpacking has taken place there, but I never climbed San Gorgonio before. It is the highest peak in southern California. The views are spectacular.

I hiked the Vivian Creek trail. This is a very difficult day hike: eight miles of uphill, followed by eight miles of downhill. Elevation at the trailhead is 6,080 feet. Elevation at the summit is 11,499 feet. That's an elevation gain (and subsequent loss) of 5,419 feet, or over one vertical mile.

I left my sister's home in Garden Grove at 3:40am. My first stop was the all night Del Taco to pick up some bean and cheese burritos to get me through the day (left in the top of my pack, I find they make a decent snack or lunch!) My next stop was the Mill Creek Ranger Station. This hike takes place in a designated wilderness area so permits are required, even for day hikes. I was surprised when I arrived at about 5:00am to find two other hikers there for the same purpose! (At this hour the office is closed but they leave a limited number of permits outside the office so you can register at any long as there are permits remaining!) I turned off Hwy 38 at Forest Falls and continued to the trailhead at road's end. The hike begins...

For more information see the San Gorgonio Wilderness Association website.

The trail goes up canyon a short distance, crosses Mill Creek, then begins a nasty one mile climb to the wilderness area.
Vivian Creek Falls is visible from the trail.
That steep first mile is sooo worth it! This is Vivian Creek. It was still quite early, with little light in the canyon. I figured I would take pictures of this area on the way down.
Columbine, a personal favorite.
The Vivian Creek area abounds in tall pine and cedar. My mood here was not of anticipation, but rather of reverence. I knew I was blessed to have the opportunity to be here, and for that I was grateful.
I got messed up here! Don't go right! I had downloaded a map off the internet and it showed the route as going through Halfway Camp. Not so! Stay to the left! And don't get too excited: you aren't even close to halfway to the top! (By the way, I would hardly call Halfway Camp a camp at all -- basically, it's an area located off the trail with a few flat spots large enough for a tent. No improvements at all. This is, afterall, a wilderness area. I wouldn't recommend Halfway Camp in the rainy season: it looked to me as though it was subject to flash floods.)
Husband and wife hikers (left center).
Making some serious elevation gains. But still so very far to go!
Mt. Baldy in the distance.
Don't get too excited yet: that's not it.
Another hiker. Permits are limited: I only saw eight other people today.
I think I can!
I know I can!
Obligatory "on top" photo.
As seen from the top: Dry Lake (clearly not dry) in the foreground and Big Bear Lake in the background.
Mt. San Jacinto / Palm Springs area as seen from Mt. San Gorgonio.
Heading home.
On the way down, a spectacular view of the Yucaipa and Redlands area.
So what about those pictures I was going to take of the Vivian Creek area on the way back? Well by the time I got there, the feeling of "reverence" had worn off: I just wanted to get back to my car! Eight miles of downhill can be quite mind numbing!

I always appreciate the emails I receive. This one was a little more "out there" than usual: a rather unusual tribute, but I'll take what I can get. ~bq

September 28, 2006


I saw your online blog from your trip up Mt. San Gorgonio a few years back. My brother and I just did it recently and had a great time. 10.5 hours up and back and it was quite a ball buster to say the least. Long, long and seemed like it never ended once up on the ridge (last 2 miles). That first mile was very nasty and worse coming down because we were pretty sore by then. Not nearly as tough as Mt. Whitney, which took 16 hours roundtrip and a lot higher elevation to deal with, but nonetheless this was a good one and pretty comparable distance and elevation gain wise.

We were both inspired by your trip log and how you made it to the top on bean & cheese burritos from Del Taco. Quite an interesting combination and hiking diet, but I guess whatever works for you. Denny's certainly made my stomach feel a little icky at times, but I made it through without the use of the wag bag. No doubt though those bean & cheese burritos turned into some instant wag bag action later on huh? HAHA! LOL.

We called this "Operation Del Taco" as we were really intrigued by your trip log and especially those bean & cheese burritos and putting them in your pack for a late day snack. In honor of Mt. San Gorgonio, Del Taco and the one and only Bill Qualls I present you with this photo of the Operation Del Taco staff with none other than Mr. Qualls chief of the operation in the middle. Nice work! Now get Whitney too, you have my blessing!


(name and photo withheld by request)

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