Bear Canyon Trail to summit, Devil's Backbone Trail to Baldy Bowl, Gold Ridge, Three T's Trail, to Icehouse Saddle, Icehouse Canyon Trail, Mt. Baldy Road to village
5,700 feet of elevation gain
At a little after seven, I left my car next to the Mount Baldy Village Church and walked up Bear Canyon Drive to the Bear Canyon trailhead. It was cold in the canyon. Not far along the trail, I came upon a backpacker coming down in the opposite direction. He asked me if this was the only way to the summit. Thinking he had stayed overnight on the summit and begun his descent at dawn, I was confused. I told him there are several routes to the summit but that this is the only path in Bear Canyon. "Did you pass a few guys along your way?" I'd seen some people on the path following the creek down below a ways back, and their voices rose up to us on the trail, just then. They had taken a path that leads to a cabin on the creek rather than the summit trail. I learned that they were all training for a walk up Mount Whitney in a couple of weeks, and we joked that it might not bode well that they were getting lost only a mile into their last training hike.
San Gorgonio Mountain
Vivian Creek Trail, out and back
Made camp at High Creek and continued to summit Saturday afternoon; walked to summit again Sunday morning before breaking camp and returning to Forest Falls
5,600 feet of elevation gain from Forest Falls to summit
Not even a hundred yards out of the paved picnic grounds at Vivian Falls, and I was lost. I heard footfalls behind me. "Looking for Vivian Creek Trail? I'm headed there, too." As we crossed the rubble in the dry wash, we got acquainted. Mike was a podiatrist in Redlands whose church is San Gorgonio Mountain.
The Vivian Creek Trail is the shortest way to the mountain's summit. The first mile is a homely stretch of desert landscape covered by steep switchbacks made even worse by scree and rocks. At the San Gorgonio Wilderness sign, we found Rob. Without a wilderness permit authorizing him to walk any further, he was resigned to making this his turn-around spot. Mike suggested that Rob continue along with us since both he and I had permits. A retiree and veteran Boy Scout, Rob holds a distance record for peak to peak mirror signaling. Mike stopped to rest at Vivian Creek Camp, and Rob and I continued on, talking over gear selection and the best backpacking spots in southern California.