Dry Lake Backpack
My 50th Backpacking Trip!
July 6-7, 2010
My friend Sonya and I did an overnighter up to Dry Lake in the San Gorgonio
Wilderness Tues/Wed - after the crowds were back at work. We only saw a few
other people on the trail, and were the only ones camped at the lake, which is one of
the most popular spots to camp in the San G Wilderness. This wilderness area
cradles the highest peaks in Southern California and is a beautiful spot to spend a
few days, or a week.
We set off from the South Fork Trailhead about 9:00 am on Tuesday. We made
very good time up to South Fork Meadows where we ate lunch. We'd been here
before, last August as a dayhike, but being a month earlier we saw flowers that had
already faded on our last trip - most notably, Hartweg's Iris. We also saw tons of
Blue Penstemon, Bridge's Penstemon, Lupine, Wild Rose, Mariposa Lily, Indian
Paintbrush, White Phlox, Western Wallflower, Yarrow, Snowplants, Monkeyflower,
and two species of Orchids - Rein and Corral Spotted Root. It was too early for the
Lemon Lilies - glad I saw them last August.
After eating lunch at the meadows (highlighted by Sonya's home-grown cucumbers
and cantaloupe) we started up the last switchbacks up to the lake. I was hoping to
see water in the lake and we were not disappointed. I renamed "Dry Lake" to
"Quarter-full Lake" for this trip. It will be dry in another month or two, though, only
to refill after next winter's snow.
Speaking of snow, there was still some on the north face of Mt. San Gorgonio, which
is the highest peak in Southern California at 11,499'. We also found one lone snow
bank at 9,070' near the lake where we camped. It's nice to see in Southern
California in July ;)
We camped near the backside of the lake near Lodgepole Spring. This delightful
spring creates a short lived bubbly creek before the water disappears under ground
again. We found a great campsite underneath the huge Lodgepole Pines there. We
were entertained by hundreds of birds and the cutest little chipmunks - they were
tinier than any I had seen before, maybe new babies out running around. We also had
a golden-mantled ground squirrel run around our camp - the first one of these I've
seen in Southern California I believe.
Since we got up to the campsite fairly early we had plenty of time to lounge around.
We filtered water in the creek, ate dinner, Sonya had coffee, and we just relaxed
until bedtime. The night was not too cold, still, and very quiet.
photo taken by Sonya
photo taken by Sonya
In the morning it was a bit chilly and so I made some hot cocoa. Then we made
Backpacker Pantry's "Huevos Rancheros" which, unlike some other hiker egg dishes,
actually had to be cooked instead of just reconstituted with hot water. So thank
goodness I had brought some olive oil along, so the concoction didn't stick too bad in
my Titanium pot. It made for a very yummy breakfast wrapped in Trader Joe's
Middle Eastern Flatbread
After breakfast we packed up and headed back down to the Quarter-full Lake. Then
on down the switchbacks to the meadows where we ate a snack and filtered a little
water. We then made good time back down to the trailhead.
It was a nice overnighter and a great 50th backpacking trip! Challenging but didn't
kill us (7 miles up to the campsite and 2,200' elevation gain), good company, lots of
wildflowers and wildlife, fabulous weather, and gorgeous scenery.
|Mariposa Lily and an unidentified sunflower
|White Phlox & Indian Paintbrush
|Pretty green section of trail
|I have a dry sense of humor
|Results of a recent avalanche
|Lodgepole Spring-fed Creek
|This lodgepole stump looked like a cougar to me