Fish Creek Headwaters

July 26-27, 2011
I wanted to do a short overnighter, nothing too strenuous since I am expecting, so my friend Sonya and I decided on hiking from the Aspen Grove Trailhead up to the Fish Creek headwaters in the San Gorgonio Wilderness.   I'd hiked from the Fish Creek Trailhead to Fish Creek Camp before (my last trip, with my parents) but I wasn't thrilled with the location of the camp.  It was okay, but there was no running water there and no views or anything - it was just kind of a blah place to camp.  So this time I pulled an "Explorer Permit" allowing us to camp off trail, and off we went. 

I wasn't sure how far we'd make it, I haven't hiked much in the last two months and have been exhausted most of the time.  But the good thing about an explorer permit is it allows you to camp anywhere in the wilderness, with a few exceptions, but you must be at least 1/2 mile from any trail or any other camp.  We made it about 3.5 miles up the trail, then 1/2 mile cross-country, and then we found a pleasant campsite near the headwaters of Fish Creek. 

The wildflowers along the way were incredible - I've never seen so many lemon lilies!  They are so very fragrant, you can smell them from 30 feet away!  They grow abundantly along the stream this time of year along with rein orchids, Richardson geraniums, Indian paintbrush, bigelow sneezeweed, columbine, yellow and scarlet monkeyflowers, cow parsnip, and ranger's buttons.  In the drier areas we saw blue and scarlet penstemon, lupine, yarrow, phlox, wild rose, pine drops, snowplant, western wallflower, and buckwheat.  We also saw birds galore and the usual mix of squirrels and chipmunks.  No big fauna came our way, and we saw just a few people on the trail the first day, nobody on the second.  That's the huge benefit of having days off during the week - all of the San G trails have been full to quota capacity on the weekends.  Weekdays you can pretty much have it to yourself, and that to me is a truer and more worthwhile wilderness experience...

Sonya is a great backpacking partner, she didn't complain when I wanted to rest more than usual, and she insisted on carrying the majority of the food, bringing some great fresh fruits and vegetables and even a slice of cake to celebrate baby's first trip.  Well, this was most likely baby's "first backpack"...  Baby may have existed during the last one, but this is the first one confirmed :)
More photos here!

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