Leaders: Martin Feather, Alan Coles
Maybe it was the attractiveness of the other HPS trips the same weekend that drew the hoards away from our trip, or maybe it was the thought of the first day's 3500 feet of gain with backpacks. Either way, only 6 of us assembled at 7:30 am at the South Fork Trail trailhead: Alan & I, Cristy Bird who felt free from all pressure to have to do peaks having finished the list earlier this summer, Jim Martinez who later in the trip came to the conclusion that he had a low conditioning-to-backpack-weight-ratio, and Bob & Anne Wright who were recently married to each other in Yosemite!
After shuttling vehicles to the Angeles Oaks trailhead, end point of the hike, we began our ascent up the South Fork trail, quickly warming up in the morning sun. There is no longer vehicular access to the old Poopout Hill trailhead, the new trailhead being located along Jenks Road itself. This means a little extra distance and elevation gain, but it is quite scenic along that way. On the ascent to Dollar Lake saddle, Jim decided to take it easy for a while, and dropped back, armed with maps, and knowledgeable about the area. Cristy remained at the saddle, drinking tea and reading, while the rest of us scurried up to Charlton Peak. Once back at the saddle, Jim still hadn't made it there, so we continued on to camp at High Meadow Spring. No one else was there, and we had our choice of the many existing campsites scooped out of the hillside. Water was available at the spring, the sun continued to warm us for a while longer, and we began dinner preparations with the traditional community salad. Just in time, Jim arrived!
As the sun set, temperatures dropped, spurring dire predictions of freezing overnight. To our pleasant surprise, however, it never got all that cold, even though we were camped at over 10,000 feet.
Sunday morning, we were off before 8:30, hiking up to follow the trail and pick up the peaks - Shields, Anderson, San Bernardino E., and finally San Bernardino Pk, our lunch spot - along the way. We were careful to climb Alto Diablo and the Washington Monument too, just in case these ever get added to The List in a moment of inflationary frenzy. The long but surprisingly varied (scenery-vegetation) descent to Angeles Oaks followed, and all participants made it out by late afternoon.
Overall, this proved to be an excellent time of year to visit the area: patches of fall color, few other people, and ideal weather. My thanks to Alan for assisting, and to the participants for participating!