Pizza Time in Gorgonio

Onyx Summit (mile 252.1) to PCT mile 228.0
(24.1 miles, +2,000/-6,500 feet).

Time for another adventure on the PCT!  My buddy BarnFinder and I were originally going to do a section near Mount Baden-Powell, but part of Highway 2 was still closed this week due to snow (what a crazy wet winter we’ve had in SoCal!).

So instead we decided to head to the San Gorgonio Wilderness, where we were both missing pieces from Section C.  BarnFinder dropped me off at Onyx Summit where I would head south and he then drove around to the Whitewater Preserve and headed north.

At 6:45am it was a brisk 40 degrees for me at the trailhead, where I was greeted by a friendly trail angel sign.

80s icon

It is definitely thru-hiker season.  By the end of the day I counted nearly 100 hikers heading north to Canada!

The trail made a short climb from Onyx Summit and then quickly gave me views of the still-snow-covered San Gorgonio Mountain.

Early morning trail
San Gorgonio Mountain
Not lost yet!

After a couple of miles I passed the infamous animal enclosures that sit right along trail.  The animals seemed extremely sad, locked up behind extremely aggressive signs that said “No Trespassing!” and “Armed Response!”

Poor bear

Another short climb took me up above 8500 feet where snow patches still remained near the trail on north-facing slopes.

Lingering snow
Another Gorgonio shot

By 9am I dropped down to Coon Creek Cabin, a group campsite that very conveniently had a nice pit toilet (thank you National Forest Service!).

Pit stop
View of Coachella Valley from Coon Creek Cabin

My next short climb would take me back up to 8500 where I started to see signs of the humongous Lake Fire that burned over 30,000 acres of the San Gorgonio Wilderness back in 2015.

Pretty uphill
Entering the burn zone
Mount San Jacinto from the burn zone

Once again I encountered snow, but there was only one tiny section where I had to walk on it.

Last bit of trail snow

Just before I headed south and started my big descent for the day I stopped for some brunch.  My choices were scant, since for this trip I decided to bring a whole pizza (and nothing else!) that was leftover from my son’s birthday party.

Hmmm….  Pizza, pizza, or pizza?

After my break, the descent was really beautiful, passing through pine forests and then eventually heading down to Mission Creek.

Beautiful trail
Beautiful sign
Beautiful blooms

Even the burn zone had its own stark beauty.

Fallen giant
Golden stream

One lovely aspect of today’s hike was the omnipresence of water.  I never needed to carry more than a liter and a half with me the whole day, and most of the time I carried none at all.  Whenever I was thirsty I just grabbed some water from Mission Creek.

The main burn zone lasted for about four miles but there were signs everywhere of renewal (especially the wildflowers!).

A traverse through char and bones
Ubiquitous lupines
View across Mission Creek Valley
Trail companion
Spectacular yellow

By 1:30pm I made it to the San Gorgonio Wilderness boundary where it became drier and more desert-like.

Hello, Gorgonio!
Blooming yucca
Flowers and cacti
Trailside massive yucca bloom
Yucca bloom closeup

At one point a horned toad darted out onto the trail in front of me.  I just barely got a shot of him as he scurried into the brush.

Run away!!!

Soon the trail took me back down to Mission Creek where there would be several verdant stream crossings for the rest of the day.

Green crossing
Blue dragonfly

Finally, around 3pm I crossed paths with BarnFinder.  He was very glad to see me after his very long and very hot uphill climb from the desert floor.

Sight for sore eyes

We took a short break at the next stream crossing and then decided to press on south for a couple more hours before calling it a day.

Cactus blooms
Not cactus blooms

We found a really nice site to camp that was not too far from the creek.  It was filled with orange flowers and sheltered from the south by several large trees, which would be useful for breaking a fairly intense wind that picked up for a few hours before dark.

Flower and tent matching set
Wonderful wind block

We ate dinner, and I was very glad to give my seventh(!) piece of pizza to BarnFinder in exchange for one of his cookies.  It was fine to bring just pizza for this trip (hiking makes me hungry for just about everything), but I don’t think I would do it again…

On the drive up this morning BarnFinder and I were discussing our pack weights and we were both puzzled by a missing pound from mine (I’m usually 8ish but I weighed in at 7ish).  As it turns out, I forgot my sleeping pad!  But not to worry–our campsite is pretty sandy and it is pretty warm this evening so I should be fine.

Although it does not get dark until 8, it is 6 now and we are already in our tents.  Nighty night!

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