|Alto Vista - The One|
Being bitch slapped by the mountains is kind of a
double-edged sword. On one hand, you have a plan – meticulously crafted by the
ego – that choreographs your grand summit. Here simple alpine fundamentals take
a backseat to visions of self, standing high upon a pinnacle overlooking
mankind. Then there’s reality. Or all the little details that spring-up while
you dwell in fantasy during your trek. Wait,
Oh, I didn’t think of that.
For us Southern California flatlanders, San Gorgonio is kind
of a Grand Teton. Even though we can’t see it from Orange County (unless
standing on Santiago Peak), it’s always beckoning. So when I signed the day
hike permit, the vision was simple. Get to the top. The pinnacle. What else is
I began to look a little more into the details. My route
from South Fork to the summit and back was 21 miles with around 5,000
feet of ascent. No big deal. Hell, I’m an ultra runner, I thought. I’m
|San G - The Elusive One |
The first couple of miles were amazing. Meandering single
track with some great glimpses of San G. I was so sure to bring my Olympus Pen
camera that I hung it around my neck so I could get the best shots without
having to dig into my pack. The pictures I was getting were amazing! I’m not
sure if was the 10th
shot when I noticed
something blinking in the view finder. “NO CARD.” “NO CARD.”
|Santiago Peak - The Flatlander's Vantage Point|
Whatever. Since I didn’t have my GPS, I was calculating my
distance by landmarks along the way. Two miles, four miles. What I didn’t
calculate were the snow drifts. A step here. A slip there. A contorted epileptic
move here and there. Finally I reached Dollar Lake Saddle at 10,000 feet, 7.4 miles in. It was
covered in snow. Hell, I thought, this is where the real climbing will begin!
After taking a few shots with my phone, I moved further up the snow to get to
the trail. Wait, what?
|From Alto Vista Peak|
No trail? I looked around feverously. For footprints,
snowshoe tracks, coyote droppings, anything. But there was nothing. Then it hit me.
The two and a half mile trail to San G summit was completely buried under several
feet of snow. Details.
|Wait. What? |
At this point my vision of pinnacle grandeur was fading into
just bagging any old summit I could find. So off I marched, heading due west,
the opposite direction of San G, but toward the many peaks along the 10,000
foot ridge. I finally found one. Alto Vista Peak. I stood on the “pinnacle” for
a few minutes, soaking in everything I could.
Thanks Alto Vista Peak. You'll do just fine.
Nice pics! That's a lot of snow. We don't have any at the moment.
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