Well no one was more surprised to see me on yet another trek than me, but there I was none-the-less. After the difficulty with the Baldy hike, I truly did believe that my mountain climbing days were over. Somehow I must have forgotten the torture that I was putting myself through. It was helpful that my friend and running mate, John was willing to tackle the beast with me. Together we could do this!
The trailhead began in Forest Falls, which is home to Forest Home Christian Camps. I have spent many a week at Forest Home as a camper, counselor and youth pastor. I had no idea I would return as a mountain climber.
We set out on the trail only to find that the first two miles would be some of the steepest and most difficult of the entire climb. We realized right away that this was no easy climb.
The trail to the summit of San Gorgonio is 17.3 miles and the elevation gain is more than 5,800 vertical feet. San Gorgonio is the highest peak in Southern California at a whopping 11,503′ above sea level. That’s a monster by any definition. But we were determined and the weather was perfect. So off we went up into the great unknown.
I had learned a few things from Baldy that played into my routine this time around. First I made sure I was eating and drinking regularly. I wasn’t waiting to summit in order to start eating. My body needed fuel throughout the ascent and I obliged. I didn’t ever experience the sickness that I had on Baldy and I’m sure that was due to the fact that I was feeding my body along the way. This can be difficult too, because you don’t always feel hungry on the trail. But giving yourself enough food and water is essential to not dropping from exhaustion.
Another helpful aspect of this climb was having a buddy along. While I enjoyed the company of my other companions on Baldy, John and I are good friends. His partnership in this was a big factor in me being able to complete the climb. In fact, about 2/3 of the way up I was struggling. I was tired. I wasn’t giving up but I was falling further and further behind. John waited for me when he could have been up with the others. Once I reached him, we ate lunch and then got back on the trail. That was exactly what I needed to make the summit.
About an hour later, we reached the top and were able to celebrate with our friends. A funny thing we witnessed at the top was these three women who were up celebrating as well. They had climbed the summit with a bottle of wine and wine glasses. So they were enjoying the fruit of their labor.
Heading down was long but mostly easy. It always seems longer than you think it should be. We all made it down safely and though it was tougher for some than others, it was a milestone for each of us. We were that much closer to being ready to climb Whitney, which of course was our ultimate goal!
John and I ravenously devoured an In & Out burger on our way home to cap off this amazing adventure. We sat there in the restaurant looking up and saying: Did we really just climb to the top of that mountain? Yeah, it’s a little surreal.
Next stop: Whitney!