San Gorgonio in the Snow
4 days... 3 days... 2 days... 1 day away! The weekend was drawing nearer as we prepared ourselves for hiking San Gorgonio, the tallest peak in Southern California. For our experience level, it wasn't going to be anything new or crazy, but things were different this time: the weather. One of the largest weather systems of the past few years was coming in and was going to hit us broadside while we were up on the peak.
I kept a very close eye on the mountain's forecast with each approaching day and the storm just seemed to be getting worse. Eventually, Tyler and I just accepted the fact that we would not summit on this trip due to the unsafe conditions, but we planned to still make basecamp for the night at about 9,800 feet. About 2' of snow was supposed to fall Friday and we were heading up Saturday, spending the night, then coming down Sunday. However, the snow wasn't our main concern; it was the wind. At basecamp alone, the winds were going to be between 40-45mph. I have the Sierra Design Convert 2 which is a 4-season tent and I know Sierra Design wind tests all their gear for 4-season work. So although the weather made me nervous, I still had some confidence we'd be alive the next morning. The wind speed at the peak on Sunday morning however (the morning we had planned on summiting) was going to be 75mph and increasing throughout the day. For reference, 74mph is considered a hurricane status. Thus, we did not plan on summiting.
Saturday morning came and we set out from LA nice and early and got to the park entrance at a decent time. The weather was on and off sunny which made for a beautiful initial hike. The freshly fallen snow on the other hand was extremely powdery; the type that doesn't compact at all. We discovered very quickly that this type of snow makes snowshoeing difficult. I can't recount the number of times we (mostly Tyler. lol) fell just while trying to hike. Granted, we had heavy packs and the snow was deep, but it was borderline ridiculous. The only thing making it reasonably possible was the fact that we were following in the steps of a few day-hikers that had gone ahead of us. We eventually passed them as they were coming back down and after about 2 miles, we very abruptly found were they had turned around.
With their trail ending, it was only fresh, unadulterated snow lying before us. After about 20 steps in this fresh and unturned snow, we realized we'd never make it to basecamp that night. It was far too deep and difficult with heavy packs on and in such deep snow. Thus, with heads held high, we cheerfully agreed that we'd have just as much fun camping right where we were at for the night. We got set up with my Sierra Designs Convert 2 tent and took a nice little nap before waking up to go explore one more time before dusk. We were able to catch the sunset over the mountains as dusk fell upon us.
Returning to our tent, we made some delicious pasta and sausage before retiring to our warm sleeping bags. The night was uneventful will minor wind and only a few inches of snow by morning. No bear attacks, no hypothermia, just the sound of Tyler snoring and me talking in my sleep.
Waking up afresh, we made breakfast, packed up, and headed on down the mountain, determined to return for it's conquest on a later date.
As part of this blog and the story, I've included below the video for this particular weekend. I consider these videos my "Adventure VLOG" and also post them on my Youtube Channel where you can subscribe to all my videos.