Thursday, February 27, 2014

South Fork to Dollar Lake Saddle

South Fork to Dollar Lake Saddle
Mileage: 15
Mandie's blog entry for this hike

Mandie and I decided to return to San Gorgonio wilderness and attempt the hike that we bailed on when it was to cold and snowy, up South Fork trail. You can read about that trip here, A Bitter Cold Decision. The trip started out as most of our trips do, leaving Friday after work and stopping in Temecula for something to eat and to let the traffic subside. We arrived at the trailhead parking lot around 8:00p, set up the back of my truck for the night and crawled in.

We awoke to another cold morning but nothing like it was the last time we were here. We guzzled a couple of Starbucks coffee drinks, had a bite to eat, and packed up our gear

As we headed out, Mandie wasn't feeling well and struggled a bit in the beginning. She is a tough girl and pushed through the stomach pain with only a few rest stops. While she rested, I took the opportunity to take a couple of pictures of the morning sun waking up the mountain.

After hiking for maybe a mile, we arrived at Horse Meadow. A beautiful area home to a couple of cabins. I did see a hose bit but no handle to turn it on with.

Hiking on a little further we reached Poop-Out Hill, a place to get cameras, and the San G. Wilderness boundary. (If anybody knows the history of how Poop-Out hill got its name, please let me know.) We meandered on over to Poop-Out hill for a second breakfast and to check out the views. It was a beautiful day.

After Poop-Out hill, we came across this amazing Flume just meandering around the hillside. According to Hikin' Jim, "This is the flume that diverts water from the S Fork of the Santa Ana River to Jenks Lake."

A picture of an avalanche chute which, from what I can gather, last avalanched in April 2010.

We finally reached the Dry Lake and Dollar Lake split. Both trails would take us to our destination as it is a loop. We decided to take the Dollar lake trail as Mandie had never done that trail before. I hadn't done either of them.

Right out of the gate the Dollar lake trail was steep and pretty much continued that way for the rest of the trail. Mandie and I hike a lot and usually a steep trail doesn't give us much issue, but this one did. This section of the trail starts at 8200' and goes to 10,000' where it tops off at Dollar Lake Saddle.

We were both moving slowly, but me especially. I do not usually suffer from elevation sickness all that much, maybe some dizziness once in a while, but on this day it was kicking my ass. It took every ounce of my energy to cover the 2.9 miles it takes to get to the Dollar Lake CG split. We took some time at the split to have something to eat and to reassess the situation. We still had about 10 miles to go until we would reach our camp site at Dry Lake. To get there we would have to go around San Gorgonio mountain. Since it was already getting late and neither of us were moving very fast we decided to hike up to Dollar Lake Saddle and then call it a day. Making this a out-and-back trip instead of a loop.

Once we were back on our feet, we had a little less than a mile to go until we reached Dollar Lake Saddle. As we moved along we encountered several patches of snow and ice that were a little treacherous to navigate in our trail runners.

We stopped at the saddle to have a bite to eat and enjoy the day.

After about 30-45 we headed back down the mountain. My legs felt like jello and the trail is very rocky which does not make for a good combination. It was tough going and being as tired as I was it was a bit frustrating not to be able to get a good walking rhythm going. Mandie was also having some knee pain which didn't make things any easier. It really sucks having bad pain in a joint, like the knee, that you must use. I really felt bad for her.

We took a break at a near by creek to rest and have a little snack.

We finally made it back to the truck and even though we did not do our intended hike it was still a success.
We hiked 15 miles, at elevation, with full packs on. A great PCT preparation hike.