South Fork Loop — Page 4

Avalanche on Alto-Diablo Peak

Alto-Diablo Chutes

Are there avalanches in Southern California? You bet. Just past Poop-Out Hill, we get a good look at the remains of a large and destructive slide off Alto-Diablo Peak.

To the best of my knowledge, the avalanche happened in the winter of 2009-2010, possibly during the big January snow event. The South Fork trail passes right through the middle of the run out zone, making this portion of the trail an obviously unsuitable choice for safe Winter travel—so be advised.

Avalanche Debris Junction of Dollar and Dry Lake Trails

The slide was a sobering sight when I first saw it en route to skiing San Gorgonio Mountain later that same Spring. It's still a sobering sight today.

Trevor and I pass the main slide path and continue along the trail. We cross two more lesser avalanche zones, then plunge back into the forest, working our way up to South Fork Meadows and the junction of the Dollar and Dry lake trails.

South Fork Meadows is itself an avalanche run out zone. The main path goes off the northeast chute of nearby Charlton Peak—and it's a big one.

As for the meadow, it's a popular place to camp, as well as a staging area for backcountry ski tours in Spring. We stop at the creek crossing to refill our water bottles and fight off bugs. From here, we get to pick which half of our loop to ascend. Heading left, the trail goes past Dry Lake, wrapping around the east side of San Gorgonio.

To the right, the trail goes past Dollar Lake to Dollar Saddle, wrapping around the west side of San Gorgonio Mountain. Both trails are similar in length: long. The Dollar option is perhaps a bit steeper, or perhaps not. Today, we're choosing the Dry Lake option for ascent. If all goes well, we'll return via the Dollar Lake side, following the sun all the way around the mountain.

next: Dry Lake Trail

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.

Pray for snow.