After my two prior attempts at summitting San G were unsuccessful, finally this weekend the husband and i made it to the top.
Last Thursday we got a late start and were on the trail after 2 pm. about 6 miles and 2200 feet of gain later (about 6800 at the trailhead and about 9k at our camp), we camped near Dry lake, which hasn't gone dry yet but is shallow and small. This was the inaugural trip for quite a few pieces of gear - my homemade 2-person down quilt, our POE Max-Thermo sleeping pads, and the little dual-chambered air pillows sold here on BPL. Dinner was fresh guacamole with corn chips (awesome first night dinner). We used a TarpTent Squall 2.
The night got cold fast and I'm not sure we like the POE max-thermo pads. It seems that if we weren't on the pads completely the uncovered parts got cold quickly and the cold transferred through the tubes of the pads. Hard to be on two pads completely when we were sharing a quilt, and we slept poorly. The quilt itself performed nicely and I look forward to seeing if it's even better with a different pad combination. we may end up re-selling or returning the POE pads. I can't say how cold the night got because my Silva Outdoor Computer went on the fritz that evening and i couldn't get any readings out of it at all for the remainder of the trip. Howver, the condensation on the tent walls froze during the night.
We took our sweet time getting ready in the morning and made a short detour to get water from Lodgepole spring (Dry Lake wasn't appetizing). We started up the trail to the 11,490 foot summit of San G, another ~2500 feet of gain and roughly six miles away. When we reached Trail Flats we heard voices above us on the mountain side and saw a group of four people and a dog who had obviously decided to forge up to the peak off-trail. We opted to stay on trail and slowly made our way up along the 4.5 mile Sky High Trail. Along the way, the trail passes through the wreckage of a 1977 plane crash in which frank sinatra's mother died. strange. On all north-facing stretches of trail there were still snowbanks, some of which were easy to get around and some of which we plunged into up to our hips. I have very, very little experience with snow and this was the most of it I had ever encountered on a trip. I usually deliberately avoid it, as my inexperience has bred fear.
We finally made it to the peak, where the wind was biting and cold. I layered on almost every top that I had, plus a balaclava and my rain shell. The cross-country group was already there, and from them we found out it was after 3:00 already. argh, we'd made terrible time!
the plan was to drop down to Dollar Lake, camp there, hike out the next morning and then spend the night in Big Bear (Sunday was our anniversary). The descent to Dollar lake proved to be much more difficult than we had anticipated, due to much of it being along north-facing slopes. On the final approach to the Dry Lake View saddle, we lost the trail entirely under deep snow and so we picked our way across to the saddle and then searched for where the trail appeared on teh south-facing side.
We ran into the sme problem at the trail junction to drop down to Dollar lake. The north side of the bowl (not sure that's the most precise term) was covered in solid snow. rather than try to plunge through it, we opted to drop down the southern side and pick through rocks until we reached the trail where it crossed over. This wasn't very far and wasn't very challenging, but again it's really the first time I've had to do this sort of thing.
When we reached the turnoff to the Dollar lake campground, i was a little discouraged. there was still a LOT of snow on the ground, and Dollar Lake appeared to still be covered in snow as well. I could also tell that we would get no morning sun until later in the morning. We had been cold at Dry Lake the night before, and Dollar lake was already in the shade and felt cold. I argued in favor of pressing on and just hiking out that night. It was only 6 more miles and all downhill, and I guestimated that the time was between 5:00 and 6:00 pm. the husband agreed and we headed down teh trail as fast as my blisters would let me (i still can't find shoes that don't give me blisters).
We hit the wilderness boundary just as the blazing orange sun was melting out of sight, but we still had 2.5 miles to go. On the way down we passed at least 9 people coming up. Everybody we asked said they were going to Dry lake, so there must have been quite a scene there that night!
We ened up not needing the headlamps until the final curve of teh trail, when it dips back into a wooded creek crossing. We got to the trailhead at right about 8:00 pm. We ziped down the highway to the closest town, Anelus Oaks, but the only retsaurant in town was already closed so we ended up eating the food we had packed for the trip.
ahhh, adults-only backpacking is great, but it'll probably be another six months before we can even think about another trip without the kids. now i need to start planning the next family trip (maximum of 10 miles round-trip, at least one water source, and not too much elevation gain or loss).