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A16 Outfitters 3-Peak Challenge 2017

The A 16 Outfitters created the 3 - Peak challenge of hiking the 3 highest peaks in Southern California in 1 day, 3 consecutive days, 3 weeks, or 3 months:

Mount San Antonio (Baldy)  10,064 ft.

Mount San Gorgonio 11,503 ft.

Mount San Jacinto 10,834 ft.

HIKE # 1:

On June 17 I hiked up Mt. Baldy, via Manker Flat.  The first 3 miles follows the dirt road for about 3 miles to the top of the Ski lift, where I took a short  break.  From there, the road became steeper to the top of the second ski lift, and I had to take a few breaks to catch my breath.  From here, the road turned into a trail which climbed steeply over the Devils Backbone, with beautiful views both to the south and north.  The trail then meanders first steeply, then more easily around the south side of Mt. Harwood, to the base of Mt. Baldy.  After taking a short break there,  I slowly climbed the final 800 feet to the summit.

I stayed on the summit for about 30 minutes, eating some snacks and taking a picture of me with the summit sign and the A16 2017 3-Peak Summit Flag.  I decided to take the Ski Hut trail going down, which was somewhat of a mistake due to the hundreds of people coming up this trail, causing me to have to wait for large groups passing me by.  When I finally reached the Ski hut, I took a short break there.  The last 2 miles were a lot easier, with a lot less people coming up.  On the down side, the  temperature in the canyon was going up quickly the more I went down the trail.  Back at the car, I was happy to have completed the hike, even though the feet were protesting!

Stats for this hike:

  - Date: 06/17/2017

  - Time at start of trailhead: 05:30AM

  - Time reached summit: 09:05AM

  - Time at end of trailhead: 12:00PM

HIKE # 2

When I found out that the A16 challenge included hiking the 3 peaks in 3 weekends,  I had to find a way to do it.  After discussing this with Jorge, he suggested to try and get a permit for Friday 6/23/17, since trying to secure a permit on the weekends is merely impossible, and get this one out of the way.

We met at the trailhead for the Vivian Creek Trail, the short/hardest trail to the summit. After getting our gear in order we hiked  up the road for about  1/2 a mile, to the actual start of the trail, across from the large wash.  The first mile of the trail to the wilderness sign is very steep, and I had to take several short breaks to catch my breath.  I had dreaded hiking up this part of the trail, but before I realized it I reached the sign feeling pretty good.  The 1.5 miles to Half Way Camp, is a lot easier, going through a lovely wooded area along the creek.  After we took a short break here, we tackled the next stretch to High Camp, slowly climbing to about 9,000 feet.  Here we took another break, before hiking up the switchbacks to the 10,000 foot ridge.  The first several "long" switchbacks you feel like you are not climbing at all, but then suddenly the switchbacks get shorter and a lot steeper, and with the high elevation I drastically had to slow down.  After catching our breath for a few minutes, we moved on via a relatively flat wooded area to another set of very steep switchbacks.  I really started to slow down here, stopping many times, while Jorge kept plowing ahead without any issues!  The sandy stretch above the tree line to the junction with the Peak Divide Trail at around 11,000 feet was hard to conquer, but with many short breaks I finally made it.  Jorge was feeling very strong and had no problems with the altitude.  From this point it is only .7 mile to the summit, first  to the junction with the Sky high Trail, and the last relatively flat .3 mile to the rocky summit.  At the summit we took a nice break, eating some snacks, and taking the A16 Challenge pictures. 

After about 20 minutes at the summit, we decided to head back down.  After about a mile we passed some young kids with their father climbing up to the summit.  Pretty impressive!! We took a short break at the 10,000 foot ridge, before hitting the switchbacks down to High Camp.  Further down we went for the next hour to Half way camp where we dipped our hats in the stream to cool of a bit. The mile and a half stretch to the wilderness sign was easy going, while passing lots of backpackers going uphill.  At the sign we took a short break, contemplating the final difficult downhill section of the trail  After a few minutes, we decided that there was no way around it and slowly descended the steep trail to the wash.  From there, it was an easy 1/2 mile  back to the trailhead.

After cleaning ourselves up a bit, we decided to drive back into Mentone, for some sandwiches and soda.  The drive back home was quick, since there was no traffic to speak of. 

2 Peaks done, 1 to go!  San Jacinto next Saturday.

Stats for this hike:

  - Date: 06/23/17

  - Time at start of trailhead: 06:55AM

  - Time reached summit: 13:10PM

  - Time at end of trailhead: 18:15PM   

San Gorgonio


The quickest way to hike to the summit San Jacinto, is by using the Palm Springs Tram, which takes you to an elevation of 8,516 feet, thus shortening the hike to about 10 miles round trip. However, I quickly found out that the hardest part is actually getting a ticket to ride the tram on 7/1/17.  Because this date is part of the July 4th Holiday, it is not possible to buy a ticket online in advance.  You must show up on the day you want to go, and stand in line.  Since 7/1/17 was the last day of the 3 week challenge, I had to make sure I got a Tram ticket.  So, I got up a little before 4:00AM and quickly gathered my gear before getting in the car to drive to Palm Springs.  I arrived at the tram station right at 06:00AM,, which is an hour and half before the ticket booth would open.  At least I knew I would be able to get on the first tram up!!

The tram left right at 08:00AMfully loaded with hikers and backpackers and 10 minutes later we were at the upper station.  I decided not to linger, but hoofed it to the Ranger Station in order to get my hiking permit.  After filling out the Form, I was on my way.  The trail gradually climbs through a nice forested area to Round Valley Meadow,  about 2 miles from the Ranger Station.  After initially passing a few hikers, I had the trail all to myself.  After the junction with the Tamarack Valley Trail, the section of the trail to Wellman Divide is a lot steeper, but fortunately only about a mile long.  I reached the Divide at 09:30AM and took a short break there, enjoying the views towards Marion Mountain and  Jean Peak. 

The next part towards the summit meanders north along the peak trail to west of Miller Peak, with great views of Cornell Peak and the Upper Tram Station, to where the trail makes a U turn to the junction with the summit trail.  From there it is only 0.3 miles to the top.  Right after this junction, two Rangers came down from the peak and asked me for my permit.  This was the first time I was ever asked to show a permit while hiking in this area.  A few minutes later, I arrived at the Emergency Shelter built by the Civilian Conservation Corps.  Inside are a few cots for people to stay if needed.  Shortly after the Shelter, the trail ends and you have to climb over large boulders to reach the summit of San Jacinto.  There were about a dozen people at the top, and I had no problem getting a nice young lady to take my picture with the A16 Challenge Flag as proof of reaching the summit. 

I relaxed at the summit for a little while, enjoying the spectacular views and watching a guy cutting down some branches from a pine tree.  This started an argument with someone else, who mentioned that he should not mess with the trees.  Shortly after, I scrambled down the boulders, and returned via the same trails back down to Wellman Divide.  While hiking down, I had to make numerous stops to allow large groups of hikers coming up the mountain to pass me by.  So much for a wilderness experience!  There were also a large number of hikers at Wellman Divide, so instead of taking a short break there, I moved on following the trails all the way down to the Ranger Station.  At the Station, one of the Rangers asked for my copy of the permit, but when I told him that I needed it as proof of my hike, he offered to make a copy of it.  Inside, the Rangers asked me about the incident with the guy cutting down branches a the summit.  I gave them a short description of the guy, and they told me that they would find him and have a talk with him.

Back outside, I climbed the short but steep section of walking path to the Tram Station, where I arrived just before 13:30PM.  I only had to wait about 10 minutes for the next Tram down, and a little while later I was back at my car noting that the temperature was 101 degrees!  I quickly drove down the tram road and Hwy 111 to Interstate 10 and stopped in Beaumont for a cheese burger and pineapple smoothie.  The drive back home was quick, and I was home by 16:30PM, feeling good about have finished the A16 Challenge successfully.

Stats for this hike:

 - Date: 07/01/2017

 - Time at start of trailhead: 08:20 (Ranger Station)

 - Time reached Summit: 10:50AM

 - Time at end of trailhead: 01:30PM

San Jacinto