24 Hours on Mt. San Gorgonio ~ 06/17 - 06/18

I recently joined Jerry from BPL for a 19 mile out and back hike up Mt. San Gorgonio. At 11,500 feet San Gorgonio is the tallest mountain in Southern California. The elevation gain on our route was about 5,800 feet. We started in the afternoon on the Vivian Creek trail and after a 5 mile hike and about 3,000 feet we stayed at the High Creek Camp. 

The next morning we got an early start and headed up the gracefully carved switchbacks above High Creek camp. We met a girl the day before who hiked the entire trail in sandals so we figured the snowfields wouldn't be a problem. The thin air at about 10,500 feet made for some slow going, but we made it to the top by about 10:00 am.

The hike down was a welcome break from the switchbacks on the way up. Many thanks to Jerry for sharing some knee saving techniques. By the end of the day we had hiked 14 miles with a gain of 2,800 feet and loss of about 5,800 feet. I've been training for the JMT this summer and I was feeling great, . . until the end of the day. Some serious pain from an old I.T. band injury toward the bottom made me wonder if I'm crazy to try the JMT. Fortunately it turns out I just need to do a lot more stretching and rolling along with my usual routine.

A few photos from the trail:

San Gorgonio Mountain ~ At 11,500 feet it is the tallest peak in Southern California.  

The first climb is 1,000 feet of elevation gain along steep switchbacks.

The trail follows a lush valley along Vivian Creek before more swithbacks.

Vivian Creek still had lots of water (click for full size).

The first night we camped at High Creek Camp. This is Jerry's Zpacks Hexamid Twin tent. 10 ozs of cuben luxury. Nice. I kept it simple with a Zpacks 6 x 9 cuben tarp.

Early morning switchbacks on day 2.

Gnarled old tree still hanging on. . .

Snowfields at about 10,000 feet.

Hiking the northern slope.

The trail winds along a ridge at about 11,000 feet approaching the top.

The final approach to the peak.

The view from the top. Palm Springs and Mt. San Jacinto in the distance (click for full size)

One of the stone wind shelters on the peak.

The San Gorgonio mascot. He was chilling at 11,500 feet.

This is the register at the top. There are a few other empty boxes laying around. This has several notebooks full of signatures.

The way home.

Spring in Sespe Wilderness ~ Los Padres National Forest

I was excited to get back out into the wilderness for the first time since a freezing winter trip in Pescott National Forest. This was my first journey with some of the crew from BPL (Backpackinglight.com) and although I initially went solo I shared the trail with a lot of really cool ultralight hikers. We started at the Piedra Blanca trailhead in Sespe Wilderness just north of Ojai. The winding mountain roads inspired me to do an oil change and dust off the sports car that had been in the garage all winter.  It was a fun drive up PCH past Malibu and east into the wilderness. 

Entering the Piedra Blanca trailhead

The trail starts out dry and dusty.

Soon the Sespe River comes into view.

Baddass rock dude.

There are a few river crossing right away.

 This swimming hold is about 3 1/2 miles from the trailhead. Nice sandy camping spots.

Spring flowers blooming on the trail into camp.

Zpacks Hexamid Solo Tent is made from 0.51 oz/sqyd cuben fiber and weighs just under 8 ozs.

Camping on the Sespe River.
Check out the links below for two short videos of the area ~

Half Ounce Headlamp

I found a simple lightweight solution to replace my heavyweight Petzel Tikka XP 2 headlamp. It's a MYOG Half Ounce Headlamp. The headlamp is actually two lights with each one mounted at eye level on either side of the head. By mounting two Photon Freedom Micro flashlights to a lightweight elastic headband at eye level on either side I have been able to cut my headlamp weight by 83%. Since I already carry two Photon Freedom Micro flashlights anyway the additional weight for the elastic headband is only 1/10th of an ounce (4 grams). Now that's what I'm talkin'bout.

Half Ounce Headlamp

The height and direction of the lights can be easily adjusted on the go. Each light can also be detached for use as an individual flashlight.

Velcro is used to attach the lights to the headband. The hook & loop is sewn to the lightweight elastic headband and attached with adhesive to the Photon Freedom Micro.

I used to think the little Photon Freedom Micro lights weren't bright enough. It was an easy way to lower base weight on a spread sheet but it really didn't seem to have any true functionality. To put it simply, a little LED is just not bright enough AND I have to actually hold it. Come on. That's not a solution, it's just another problem. My Petzl Tikka XP 2 only weighs 3 ounces and it puts out 60 lumens. . .

Then I went camping in the Prescott National Forest last winter to do some cold weather camping and I brought both. A Petzel Tikka XP 2 and two Photon Freedom Micro LED lights. To my surprise the two LED lights seemed just as bright as my headlamp. I had just purchased the new version of the Photon Freedom Micro lights that were supposed to be 30% brighter than the previous version, and it seemed like the two of them put out plenty of light. They stayed bright much longer than the Petzel Tikka XP 2, which has considerable loss of brightness after about half an hour.

But were they bright enough to actually hike safely at night? My next test was during a 14 mile training hike in the coastal canyons of Laguna Beach. I got a late start and I was still two hours from home when it started to get dark. By 10:00 pm it was really dark and I had to hike out of Woods Canyon up a winding single track trail with over 800 feet of elevation gain in less than one mile. I was able to hike out safely using the Half Ounce Headlamp with no problem and it was completely dark with no moonlight.

So there it is, the MYOG Half Ounce Headlamp. See you on the trail, even if it's at night!