South Fork Loop — Page 5

Trevor Benedict at Dry Lake

Dry Lake Trail

Soon past our watering hole, the Dry Lake trail begins climbing a steep hill east of South Fork Meadows, and our rapidly rising elevation begins to assert itself.

We've been running a quick pace thus far, motivated by the thought of so many miles ahead and so few daylight hours in which to complete them. Now, lungs and legs protest, and my mind begins to wander. I've been feeling old this year! A dry winter certainly didn't help, but good skiing or not, there's no escaping the relentless race of time.

Creek Crossing Gaining Elevation

When we stop at Dry Lake to take a snack break, I pull out my topo map to read our elevation—and find myself squinting helplessly at those tiny little numbers. Is that a zero or an eight?

I swallow my pride and hand the map over to Trevor, who confirms our present elevation as 9070'.

Guess I need to start carrying reading glasses in my pack.

Dry Lake, as you might expect, is indeed dry. I find a shady spot beneath a pine tree, where I plop down on a boulder to rest. I drink some water and pull out a box of raisins.

This refreshes my mood a bit. With so much hiking still to go, we don't have time for long breaks, so soon enough we say goodbye to Dry Lake and continue up the trail, which soon begins another strenuous climb. Ahead, we see occasional flashes of chalky-gray granite poking out above the treetops—the great north cirque of San Gorgonio.

If there is a criticism to be made of our journey thus far, it's that the trail has offered fairly closed views. I like trees just as well as the next guy, but mostly we've just been plunging through endless stretches of forest, with nary an expansive vista to be had. That's about to change, and dramatically so, and I'm looking forward to it.

next: Trail Flat

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.