South Fork Loop — Page 10

Dollar Lake Trail and Jepson Peak

X. The Dollar Lake Trail

Well, it's time to head back down. The feet have been given a rest, the body is refueled, spirits refreshed. Time to hit the Dollar Lake Trail and begin the western half of today's loop.

I suspect the Dollar trail is a little bit shorter than our ascent route up the Dry Lake trail, but since I've refused to face the numbers on the map, I'm not really sure. I do know it's still going to be a long, long way down—and down is inevitably the more painful direction.

Dollar Lake/Vivian Creek Trail Junction
Jepson Peak and the Big Draw

The Dollar Lake Trail begins atop San Gorgonio's summit ridge, heading due west. This affords good views both north and south. To our left is San Gorgonio's broad south face, and the vast Vivian Creek drainage.

To our right is the precipitous overlook atop San Gorgonio's north cirque, and the Big Draw—one of the area's popular winter ascent and descent routes for backcountry skiers.

And just ahead is the modest-looking bump along the ridge called Jepson Peak, which turns out to be the trick-question answer to what is Southern California's second highest peak?

We will pass just below Jepson Peak's summit, then wrap all the way back around to the east for a quarter mile or so, then repeat the whole dang process this time around Charlton Peak. The whole way, the trail descends at an alarmingly-gentle angle along what might fairly be called an infinite traverse—or so it seems, at least.

Gentle grades plus endless traverses conspire with thoughts of dancing cheeseburgers in my head, encouraging me to pick up the pace. Both Trevor and I put a good kick in our steps, hoping not just to make it out by sundown, but thinking now of making it home in time for dinner. But progress is slow here: there are miles and miles to go.

next: Westside Views



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