Ride from LA to hike San Gorgonio

After two months of having a real job and working regular hours I was itching to get away. I finally was able to do the 120-mile, 11,500ft bike to hike trip I been sleepin on for about 2 years.

After the usual pack till 3am the night before routine, I left Los Angeles at about 1130am, heading east. I had put on a front rack with panniers and I strapped my hiking pack to my rear rack. Unfortunately the 70 miles from LA to Loma Linda are not very interesting. Basically flat and easy and not much to look at. When people say LA is ugly with strip malls and industry they are really talking about the suburbs east of the city that span the whole 70 miles I rode. My neighborhood in downtown is much greener and nicer! I ended up in Loma Linda at my friend Jen Heine’s house in about 6.5 hours (5 hours pedaling).

When bike touring a 3-day trip requires almost the same amount of stuff as a 30 day trip! All of the bike and camp basics plus I needed my hiking pack and boots. At night we sessioned the Redlands market which was a regular event for me when I lived out there before I crashed out on her floor.

Friday I woke up early, got some coffee and started on my 20 mile, 5200 foot climb to the mountain town of Forest Falls. If you live in the so cal area please go visit the San Bernardino Mountains. Fantastic scenery! This unrelenting climb is one of the hardest I have ever done. It parallels the hardest climbs we did in Mexico two years ago. At the edge of town is the trailhead for the Vivian Creek trail to the summit of San Gorgonio mountain. A 7.2 mile hike that gains 5300 feet (up to 11,500 ft).

Why this hike? Two years ago my friends, Jen Heine (same one) and Tim Radak, and I decided to climb this in one day. I was set on riding to it then, despite my ill preparation. I read that to summit you need to leave the trailhead by 7am to make it back before dark. Realizing I would have to leave at 330am to ride there in time I decided against it. That trip was a nightmare anyway! We ended up not leaving the parking lot till 10am or so and racing up to the summit. Jen and I soon started falling behind Tim. Then we both began showing symptoms of altitude sickness: dizziness, nausea, vomiting, disorientation, suppressed analytical skills, and blurred vision. We were in bad shape! I had thrown up everything I had eaten and Jen’s vision was blurry. Then she hurt her knee!

This story is so ridiculous it is almost embarrassing. It was starting to get dark, Tim was no where to be found and then I lost the map. The batteries in Jen’s flashlight dies. We lose the trail. I go and look for help and cannot find the people I swore I just saw. Jen is mumbling about setting a fire so the helicopters can see us. My head is pounding from the elevation. Eventually we find the trail and I help her walk on her hurt knee. After hours of stumbling in near darkness (I had a headlamp) we make our way back to the trailhead. Where is Tim? There is a note from him that he left to go let his dog out (1 hour away) and that he would be back at midnight to see if we were still there. What time was it? 1230am. We could not believe it. By this time it is freezing out and we were not prepared for the night. We ended up making a bed of leaves in the women’s bathroom and spooning all night to stay warm. Got a ride back in the morning to end our disastrous trip. So I wanted to do this climb right.

Chillin in the parking lot I unpack my panniers and load EVERYTHING into my hiking pack. I reluctantly lock up my bike to a gate and start hiking. The first mile of the trail is out of a valley and is STEEP. I am stumbling with my heavy ass pack. When was the last time I hiked with so much stuff? I could not remember. It took me 3 hours to go the 2. 5 miles to halfway camp. I set-up camp and was hanging out with a couple of guys from OC who hike often. They volunteered to hang my food with theirs, giving me the opportunity to go to sleep around 930pm. Exhausted!

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