South Fork Loop — Page 3

Poop-Out Hill

Poop-Out Hill

Past the picnic area at Horse Meadows to Poop-Out Hill we go. Poop-Out marks the boundary of the San Gorgonio Wilderness, and in times long passed, it was possible to drive here.

Some two and a half miles up from the trailhead, this happens to be the point where you get your first good look at San Gorgonio Mountain's broad north face. Perhaps by coincidence, it is also where many hikers apparently decide to turn around and head back, having walked and seen enough (hence the nickname).

Horse Meadows Andy Lewicky on the Trail

Trevor and I veer off the main trail to the Poop-Out lookout to take a photo of San Gorgonio and read the markers, which offer an interesting background on the history of the mountain, and the creation of the San Gorgonio Wilderness.

The first ascent is credited to a California State Geological Survey worker and friend in 1872. Soon after, the Vivian Creek Trail was built.

This launched a spirited conflict between preservation-oriented groups and various development-oriented forces who quite naturally saw huge potential (and profit) in the area.

In 1937, a formal application was made to build a ski area in the San Gorgonio high country. Four years later, the Forest Service proposed a "compromise" plan in which a corridor would be reserved for ski area development, with the rest of the Gorgonio area reserved as wilderness. Any such development would have likely grown into a formidable modern ski resort.

As we shall soon see, the Gorgonio Wilderness offers a massive expanse of prime skiable terrain, at high altitude. Given close proximity to the population centers of Southern California, it is easy to imagine an alternate future in which Mammoth Mountain was built here instead of in the Sierra. But that was not to be. Ultimately, ski area plans were defeated, and utterly so—even existing roads were pushed back, leaving the wilderness essentially pristine.

next: Alto-Diablo Chutes

About SierraDescents

When there is snow, SierraDescents is Andy Lewicky's California backcountry skiing and mountaineering website. Without snow, sierradescents becomes an ill-tempered hiking and climbing blog.

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