This was the second backpacking trip of the year and by far the most memorable.
Distance: ~18 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: ~5,400 feet
Parking: Parking Spaces– display an Adventure Pass or Annual Pass on your dash. There is also a gravel parking area with no permits necessary.
Permit: Required for a day hike and for an overnight.
Trailhead: 41900 Falls Rd Forest Falls, CA 92339
Type: Out and back
Restrooms: Yes- At the parking lot area there are vault toilets.
Considering Humber Park to Round Valley was only my second backpacking trip ever in life, backpacking the tallest mountain in SoCal was fairly ambitious and a little crazy. My guy and I snagged an overnight permit to camp at the summit of San Gorgonio and even more nuts is the fact that I had never previously done this hike. It was a lot of firsts.
Since we were spending the night, we didn’t get started on the hike itself until maybe 10am and by then it was fairly warm. The start of the hike is a bit confusing. You hike through Mill Creek which looks like a park. You follow a rocky river bed up until you see an Information board and numerous signs marking the trail. You cross the actual river bed which is pretty rocky until you get to a shadier dirt trail that just goes up and up.
Full disclosure, I did not take many photos during this hike. It was incredibly challenging for me for a variety of reasons, but mainly because it was long and composed of a type of trail that I really don’t enjoy– rocky and steep. The first part of the hike is the toughest in terms of pure elevation gain. It’s a relentless uphill, but luckily it is mostly shaded. There are a number of water sources along the trail, the first at Vivian Creek about a mile into the hike and the other at High Creek Camp about 5 miles in. We took brief breaks at both locations to refuel and refill our water bottles. From High Creek Camp there is still about 5 miles of trail left to go with the last mile being fairly steep and barren.
Real talk, this trip kicked my butt. I cried at some point– I think it was 2 miles shy of the summit. I was very close to calling it a day right then, but for some reason, the physical and emotional exhaustion was replaced with a kind of steely determination. I asked myself if looking back on that trip, would I feel okay with having stopped shy of the summit and I knew that I would have regretted not moving forward. So I kept moving.
We made it to the top as the sun went down. I’d never felt more accomplished in a hike and I enjoyed the moment only briefly as it was cold and very windy and we still had to pitch our tent. We managed get our tent up and actually sleep a little before we started back down at sunrise.
I’m so glad that I didn’t stop. I’m so glad that I was challenged enough to have to push through something like I did. I think about how easy it is in day to day life to avoid difficult situations. To side step things that will discomfort, and agitate, and push you. When you are more than halfway up the side of the tallest mountain in SoCal, there are few options, keep going or don’t. I chose to keep going.