Socal Six Pack of Peaks 2018

 

Hola IEers

Are you ready to CHANGE YOUR LIFE?!?

::runs off of stage, high-fives audience members::

Recently I was anointed (that’s right, anointed… there was a ceremony and everything!*) as an ambassador for the Six Pack of Peaks Challenge which means it’s my job to get you all signed up for this awesomeness.

If you’re looking to challenge yourself and take your hiking to the next level, the Socal Six Pack of Peaks is the way to do it. Through the challenge you will climb progressively higher peaks, starting with the one everyone loves to hate (despite what Jeff says), Mt. Wilson, and ending with the highest peak in So Cal, San Gorgonio. Here are the peaks in order:

Mt. Wilson 5710 ft. (15 miles; 4200 elevation gain)
Cucamonga Peak 8859 ft. (12 miles; 4300 elevation gain)
Mt. Baldy 10064 f t. (11.3 miles; 3900 elevation gain)
San Bernardino Peak 10649 ft. (17 miles; 4700 elevation gain)
San Jacinto 10834 ft. (11.5 miles 2500 elevation if you take the tram)
San Gorgonio 11, 503 (17.3 miles 5840 elevation gain)

All together a total of 87 miles and over 27,000 feet of elevation gain.

As you can see, I have only written up the cheater’s way for San J. (and yes, I’ve done it via Marion AND Cactus to Clouds, thankyouverymuch) because I’m very busy with my job that pays the bills, but I hope to have the Marion guide written soon. Probably not the Cactus to Clouds route, though, because I was so delusional by the end of it I have no idea how I got there.

Anyway, the Six Pack is a great challenge, and a pretty awesome training plan if you’re wanting to do something like Mt. Whitney or anything in the Sierras. Plus, if you participate in the actual challenge, you get a bunch of cool stuff, are invited to the finisher’s party, and help to raise money for Big City Mountaineers, an organization that takes city kids to the mountains.

If you’re interested in participating, go ahead and use this link to sign up today.

 

*there 100% was not a ceremony of any sort

 

 

 

San Bernardino Peak

TrailheadSan Bernardino Peak Divide Trail, Angelus Oaks, CA 92305
Length: 17 miles RT
Elevation Gain: 4700 ft.
Difficulty: Advanced
Total time: 9 hrs
Dogs: Yes
Parking: Dirt lot at the trailhead that fills up quickly on weekends. I was able to navigate it in my Hyundai Elantra but I also scraped up the side of my car trying to avoid a large hole which is definitely going to help the resale value.

NOTE: Effective 9/1/17 permits are no longer subjected to a quota. You don’t need to acquire a permit in advance; however, they do ask you to fill out a self permit from the Mill Creek Ranger Station in Mentone. Be sure to bring a pen with you or you have to use your snake bite sharpie like I did which doesn’t work well on carbon copy paper. You can also fill out the permit via PDF, email it in, and print a copy for yourself.

 

San B is probably my favorite trail of the Socal Six Pack for no other reason than the elevation gain is pretty gentle. The bummer part is that it’s 17 miles.

This was the last of the Six Pack that I needed to do this year for my three-peat and I decided to summit solo. Even though I’ve done gazillions of solo summits, this one gave me a bit of the heebies to do alone due to the length of the trek and the fact that I was beginning in the early morning which, as we all know, is prime time for murderin’.

The first mile of the hike are arguably the hardest. You gain a lot of elevation quickly as you climb switchback after switchback. These are the switchbacks you’ll hate on your way back because they seem never ending.

IMG_20171013_075401

After the switchbacks, you’ll curve around the west side of the mountain and then begin heading east again. Soon you will come to one of my favorite parts of the trail, the manzanita forest:

IMG_20171013_080510

This part of the trail is relatively flat and enjoyable. Keep heading along the trail and you’ll end up at a three way fork in the road with a sign and a random rusty wheelbarrow. Follow the middle trail towards Limber Pine:

IMG_20171013_081718

After this sign, you’re going to hike and hike and hike through a little valley area and then up switchbacks to Limber Pine Campground which is apparently one of the best places to camp and see a sunset IN THE WORLD. Or at least in the San Bernardino Mountains. You do still need a permit for overnight stays.

You’ll then get to the next benchmark, which is, haha, a bench. Get it? I’m very clever.

IMG_20171013_105403

Limber Pine Bench offers the best view on the hike, and is where I would stop and eat lunch if I’d bothered to eat lunch on my hike.

After the bench you’ll encounter a few more switchbacks until you get to a fairly flat area where you’ll come to the Washington Monument.

It took the third time on this trail for me to actually see the Washington Monument. I always thought it was the pile of rocks with a plaque on the trail. Not so! It’s actually a bigger pile of rocks that used to be a cabin about 300 feet off the trail! I didn’t get a picture of it, but I did get a picture of this view, so there’s that:

IMG_20171013_095930

After the Washington Monument you’re on the last leg of the trip. The trail once again begins to climb and the very last .1 miles is very steep because apparently you haven’t done enough already.

IMG_20171013_101535

 

The peak itself is much less impressive than you’ll see at Limber Pine bench, but it’s got an ammo box, so you know, cool. And there’s a sign which was donated by @sdhiker which, if you’re solo hiking like I was, makes it super fun to try to take a picture with.

 

After you’ve rested, go ahead and head back from whence you came.

I’m going to be honest with you in saying that this is a long trek back. Like, WAY long. The last mile especially. It’s switchback after switchback. And if you hike it solo, you’ll be looking for ways to entertain yourself. Like I did when I composed this little ditty:

This is the trail that doesn’t end
Yes it goes on and on my friend
Some people started hiking it not knowing what it was
And they’ll continue hiking it forever just because
This is the trail that doesn’t end…

I ended up getting back to my car at about 1:30, p.m., making my summit just over 7 hours. However when I hike solo I take breaks for no more than 30 seconds and spent just over 10 minutes at the peak trying to take a selfie with the sign.  I’m not joking. It took me 10 minutes to take a selfie with the sign. So if you do plan to hike this one, I suggest you plan for 9 hours or more.

Additionally, with the end of the permit quota, this trail is going to be very busy on weekends. When I spoke with the ranger, he said that both San B and San G parking lots are full by 7:00 a.m., so either get there early, or even better, go on a weekday. I only saw three people on the trail the entire time I was there.

‘Cause when you’re hiking, the last thing you want is to see people, amiright? How dare others be out there hiking in nature? That’s MY thing!

 

San Bernardino Peak

 

Photo credit @michaelpowellphotography and @broloelcordero

Trailhead: 5766 Frontage Rd, Angelus Oaks, CA, 92305 
Length: 
17 (ish) miles
Elevation Gain: 4650 ft.
Total Elevation: 10649
Difficulty: Strenuous
Total time: 9-10 hours
Dogs: Yes
Parking: There is parking in a dirt lot after a long, bumpy ride down a dirt road. You can definitely make it in a regular car, but it’s not a great idea. Also, I’ve heard conflicting reports on needing an adventure pass, so just put one up. Hiking Guy has excellent instructions on how to get there.

HIKING PERMIT REQUIRED.
You can request it online to be mailed to you, stop in and get it on your way there, or, if  you’re stuck in 1996, fax your request to the station and they’ll fax a permit back. Here’s the link to the Mill Creek Ranger Station.

San Bernardino is probably my favorite of the #SocalSixPack. The trail is the most gentle of all the peaks with a very steady incline throughout and with a rather flat part in the middle when you go through the forest of Manzanita trees. The only part that was particularly steep was the very last .2 miles to the peak which is super of you, San Bernardino Peak. Go ahead and put the hardest part at the very end when I’m tired. ‘Preciate it, sir.

Some other things of note:

Ho Hum Peak
The peak’s view is rather lackluster. You’ll find the best view is on the way up at Limber Pine Bench which gives one of the most spectacular views of the Inland Empire you’ll ever see. I’ve also heard that camping at Limber Pine is an amazing experience. Many call it the best campsite in Southern California. I don’t call it that, though, because I hate camping.

Covered in Bees!
When we went in August there were a lot of bees. I mean A LOT OF BEES. Everywhere. All buzzing around, like they own the place. I hate bees. I mean, I get we need them and all but they FREAK ME OUT.

Washington Monument
Less than a mile from the peak you’ll see Washington Monument. Or, if you’re smarter than me, you’ll see it. I’ve gone twice and just passed the plaque, not realizing that there’s an actual structure off the main trail. I am not observant.

The Descent
The last two miles of the trail is a soul sucking, switch back after switch back journey with zero scenery change. I felt like I was in the movie Groundhog Day except without Bill Murray to make me laugh.

Seasons
Best time to go is June – October. Otherwise you’re going to hit snow. And not like “Hey, look at that pretty snow over there” kind of snow, but “I’m so cold that I can’t feel my feelings any more” kind of snow.