San Gorgonio Ridge
Leader: Bob Van Allen
Asst.: Jim Van Allen
Rain produces pretty flowers. Rain puts a refreshing smell in the wind. Rain makes leaves glisten like polished jewels. Rain also makes wood hard to burn and makes people wet and miserable. Or in other words - Happiness is rain in mid-week, not on weekends.
As you might gather, rain was the keynote of this 8-peaked weekend. While it was not continuous, each afternoon produced enough to make its impact.
The trip was not conducted as was originally indicated in the schedule. Changes were made to eliminate a car shuttle and to take advantage of available water, thereby eliminating the back packing of any water for Saturday.
Thirty people gathered at Poopout Hill bright and early for a trip into one of our most beautiful hiking areas. Our first move was to High Meadow Springs where we had lunch and set up camp. To those of you who have never been to that camp, it pays to be near the head of the column so that you can get one of the flat campsites. Otherwise it may be necessary to tie yourself to a tree to keep from sliding downhill during the night!
After lunch, with full canteens, full stomachs and with the non-believers carrying ponchos, we started out to do the peaks on the west end of the ridge. Not wanting to miss anything, the group surmounted the impressive summit of "Alto Diablo" (a non-qualifier) on our way to Shields. Shortly after leaving Shields, the relative humidity rose to a point where severe dampness set in. (Believers in good weather refused to don ponchos.)
On Anderson variety was added in the form of thunder, and clouds so thick it was difficult to see 3 or 4 people in front of you. Upon reaching San Bernardino East the sky was fairly liquid. Undaunted, the group (including "The Dragon") continued to San Bernardino Peak where there was a break in the weather so that there was actual sunshine.
The evening was pleasantly warm. After some effort, a campfire was produced though the still wet wood produced considerable smoke. Through the generosity (and ingenuity - he forgot the lid) of Lew Hill, popcorn was enjoyed by those who had not retired yet from a rather tiring day.
Bright and early Sunday, after a star-filled night, all arose refreshed and eager to resume the challenge. After breakfast we backpacked to Dollar Lake saddle where we left our backpacks and quickly assembled summit packs for the east part of the ridge. The first peak for the morning was Charlton and was number 100 for Lew Hill. The group waited just below the summit and in true style, Lew ran up the last 50 feet.
Jepson was next and most of the group did both summits "to be sure." From there we moved on to the highest peak on our list, San Gorgonio, where we welcomed two more emblem holders, Anne Marie Murray and Joyce Van Allen. Several minutes of "after you", "no, after you" resulted in their stepping up together. A luncheon celebration was had for our 3 new emblem holders of the morning. Other groups on the summit (obviously enjoying their peanut butter and jam sandwiches) looked with awe upon the shrimp, oysters, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, crackers, cheese, olives, pickles etc, etc, etc.
Views from the summit were poor and everything was beginning to close in again. Leaving San Gorgonio we headed for Dobbs. A slight rain was noticed before we left the trail to drop to Dobbs. Some doubted we were headed for Dobbs as visibility was limited to approximately 20 feet. While signing the register on Dobbs the rains came and lasted for a few minutes - just long enough. We then returned to pick up our packs (some of them quite wet!) and return to Poopout Hill. The last of the group was out by 5:30.
With 25-30 miles and approximately 8000 feet of gain for the two days this was not necessarily a good trip for beginners. Of the 30 starters, 15 made all 8 peaks, others left early to get home, or had done some of them before.
All agreed that this is an area they would like to visit again and it is worth the effort to keep it in its present wilderness condition.