South Fork Trail in Pearblossom, almost 12 miles on the side of a mountain, elevation gain 2,200. And in some places I do mean the side of a mountain. If you read the write up from another perspective you might think this is a relatively easy hike for someone who is a pretty seasoned hiker. What the article doesn’t say is that if you are nervous about heights and do not enjoy hiking on the side of a mountain for 7 hours this hike is not for you.
We had the best of the best hikers yesterday. It was a small group of 6. We met in the Cajon Pass to carpool to the trailhead. The group came from the Inland Empire, the San Bernardino Mtns. and the High Desert. We set out at 9 am and reached Islip Saddle, another point where the PCT intersects Highway 2 near Wrightwood.
The trail starts in a wash for about 1/2 a mile and then crosses a nice creek with a good amount of water and then heads up the side of a hill with a just a few switch backs and then begins the long climb along the west side of the mountain. We pretty much walked on a ledge most of the way up. The first mile was the most treacherous for me. There were plenty of places where the mountain is mostly made of rock with lots of Slickensides and scree. Ok, maybe not plenty but the first trail mile was mostly covered with it. Focus was imperative to keep me from freaking out.
Once past the first mile the terrain changed from rock to forest and trees and some rock faces and became somewhat more enjoyable. The additional four miles on the ledge seemed like it took forever. We reached the top in about 3 1/2 hours. We took a nice lunch break and we headed back down the hill which I thought would be more difficult and I was dreading it as I knew I had to travel the same path and over those scary and what I felt were dangerous spots.
I had realized I had gained some confidence on the way up and the first 4 miles down the hill went by quickly and I was able to relax somewhat and enjoy the hike. Of course, the last mile was once again a challenge but we all made it down safely and I was so grateful for that. I followed Mark up and down the hill as he had a calming stride and gave me confidence as we crossed the difficult places on the trail. He really helped me with this hike.
I have gained so many friends over the years while out on the trail. Many I believe have been brought into my life for a reason and I have been truly blessed.
On a side note, Thursday night I watched Grey’s Anatomy, coincidentally the episode was about a women hiker who had fallen off a mountain and ended up in the hospital and died. This is what was going through my mind for the first part of the hike. Not a nice way to start a hike like this one. It is amazing how the mind works and can take over if you let it. Don’t let it.
Of course, my strength and courage to complete this hike came from God.