Yesterday C and I hiked in the Lake Silverwood area, just off the 15 pass from Riverside up to Victorville, to several Hundred Peaks Section (HPS) Sierra Club Peaks (meaning that each summit must be above 5,000 feet). It’s a beautiful area, on the edge of the desert, but still with plenty of high forests, distinct peaks, and a fantastic series of forest road. With in-your-face views to the west of the Mt Baldy region, and a wide expanse of the peaks around Big Bear and the San Bernardino National Forest to the east, it was easy to forget that downtown LA was less than an hour away – meaning it was gorgeous. We had planned on this hike last October, but bad timing with the start of hunting season along with warnings from a group of hunters had us turning around after only 45 minutes and hoofing it (quickly!) back to the trail head. Damn hunting season. Anyway – with four, possibly five peaks for the bagging – we’ve kept this particular hike on our radar, and yesterday was the day.
With an ungodly early wake-up time of 3:15, and meeting at our usual Park ‘n Ride at 4:30 (okay, I’m always 3-5 minutes late), we made good time to our trail head near the intersection of the PCT and Cleghorn Road. We parked at the pavement’s end and were hiking by 6:12 am. Not to be too precise, but, you know.
According to the HPS Guide for these peaks – it is possible to drive nearly all the way to each summit. Cleghorn Road (2N49) is extremely well maintained, and although slightly steep at the beginning, one we got above 4500 – 5,000 feet, we pretty much cruised along a series of rollers and rolling terrain with GREAT vistas – I liked this more than hiking a constant up OR down. And besides, I get antsy in cars and driving to peaks just to “get” them, um, well, for me it cheapens the experience. Luckily I have a hiking partner who shares this belief, as well as a love for hiking long long distances at decent clips with minimal breaks.
Before hitting our first peak of Cajon, we tried briefly to navigate a steep slope/old firebreak up to Cleghorn. It would have added a mere 2 miles to our day – but unforgiving brush involving buckthorn (fuckthorn) and other scrub brush that simply destroys your pants and clothing, had us turning around after 5 or 10 minutes. It grosses me out to think of the ticks – ick. The terrain wasn’t bad, sandy and steep – we just didn’t want to spend an hour traveling less than a mile, bushwhacking through thorny and prickly brush for one peak. So we turned and resumed our hike on the brushless 2N49. Cleghorn will have to wait for another day – I’ll probably do the 17-mile approach instead.
5.5 miles into our hike, we hit the turn off for Cajon Peak (N49, I think), and made a quick assault for 1.5 miles or so up to the summit, retraced our route down, and continued on 2N49 to Sugarpine. A few miles later, we passed a wide saddle and the turnoff for our next peak. Sugarpine Peak was beautiful, and a quick 1/3 mile steep hike up off our road provided excellent vistas and a wide summit area. We took a quick, er, nature break, grabbed a bar or gel or two, and with 11.1 miles under our belt thus far, continued on our way through on our standard road through the lovely, shaded forest.
Bailey and Monument # 2 Peaks were within 3 or so miles of Sugarpine, but as we were traveling on rolling open roads, we made good use of our time. After bagging Bailey, we jumped back on our trusty road and at the saddle between the two peaks, met a few other HPS hikers. It’s always a little weird seeing other groups/people in the middle of nowhere. They asked where we had been, what time we started, and then gleefully exclaimed, “Oh – you’re peak baggers!”. Eventually they recognized C (she’s a pretty big deal in the HPS chapter… I’m just the crazy hiking buddy that goes along with her schemes and suggests a few wild ones of my own, which pretty much means that we’re perfect for each other…we make a great team! And yes, she would totally roll her eyes at that, but that’s just how it is). Anyway – with a quick chat and polite conversation, we took off to tag our final peak of the day, Monument # 2.
There was actually a very nice monument at the peak (hence the name), honoring Francisco Garces, who, among other things was a legendary explorer throughout the southwest, gave the Colorado River its name, and in 1774-76, explored much of the mountainous region of California on the Anza Expedition, eventually making his way up to San Francisco. He was the first white person to cross the San Bernardino mountains, and the present day Mojave road follows the overload route that he established. Even better than a cool monument? We found a most excellent survey marker – our first of the day! Hooray!
With 14.3 miles under our belt, we turned around and headed the 9 miles back to the car, tagging the Bailey benchmark (sadly, there was no marker) and bypassing the 3-mile out and back section to Cajon. The endless road provided lots of great vantage points for the surrounding area, and it was only in the final hour or so of our descent, where the pine trees thinned and transitioned into more desert scrub brush, that the day started to warm up into the 70s (sorry Polar Vortex Peeps).
8 or so hour after setting out, we were back at the car, chugging cold Diet Wild Cherry Pepsis and munching on PB cups. The cooler kept everything chilled and the wet wipe mini bath and clean shirt/socks/different shoes made me feel (almost) like a new person. 2 hours (and 9 DWCPs and 5 PB cups between the two of us) later we were back at the Park n Ride. I’m not ashamed to admit that the emergency bathroom break in the parking lot between the cars was slightly horrifying, but hey – we had just hiked 25 miles and consumed massive amounts of liquids. There’s only so much that a girl’s bladder can handle. Classy, I know.
Overall I felt pretty good for the day. Driving home I stopped at Sprouts and did the healthy thing and had sushi (and a Fin du Monde belgian tripel – delicious). And then I did the unhealthy thing and had a bag of PB cups – but they were there and I completely lost track. And I’m human. Oh well. Shit happens – and apparently so too does the consumption of an entire bag of PB cups. My legs seem to have recovered well after last weekend’s race and the zip zero zilch nadda running this past week was critical, as were the daily bike spins and obligatory foam rolling. This week I’ll probably ease my way into some easy jogs along the coast, but nothing super serious or intense.
And I’ll probably refrain from PB cups for a while after I OD’d last night.
Next weekend I’ve got a Lower Peak with C on tap, and I’m already getting excited! Combine that with a photo shoot on Sunday and then the Superbowl – it’s going to be a great weekend, I can already tell!
Have a great Sunday everyone! Thanks for reading!
Hike Stats – for those interested in such things….
Distance – 25.1 miles; Elevation Gain – 4,464 feet; Moving Time – 7:27:59; Avg Pace – 17:51/mile or approx 3.4 mph.