Companion blog: Adventures In Stoving

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

San Gorgonio Wilderness - Vivian Creek Trail - Trip Report for 5/28 - 5/30/2016

I was out on the Vivian Creek Trail this past weekend (5/28 - 5/30/2016).  Here is a brief report of the conditions I encountered.  The position of each item that I reference is plotted via GPS waypoints on this topographic map:  Mileages between points is noted.  I will list my observations below using the waypoints on the map.

Of course there's lots of fun stuff that I didn't way point.  Like these snow plants, a personal favorite of mine and evidently of my daughter as well.
Snow Plants near the Vivian Creek Trailhead
141 - Mill Creek Crossing.  Mill Creek is flowing with a small stream along the south bank at the point of crossing.
Mill Creek.
Don't cross if it's flooded.  A young man died here last year.  Be patient.  The water will recede.
And of course there are lots of really fun rocks to climb in and around Mill Creek.
Bouldering on the margins of Mill Creek.
165 - Both signs on the north side of Mill Creek got graffitied over the weekend.
On the way in:
Sign on N side of Mill Creek on Saturday on the way in.
On the way out:
On Monday on the way out.  
Both signs got graffitied over the weekend.
161 - 164 - Four rocks got graffitied.
Graffiti on rocks.  Why?  Why destroy nature?  What did nature ever do to you?
As we ascend, we get great views of rugged Yucaipa Ridge.  Not much snow compared to a month ago.
Yucaipa Ridge
Climbing higher, we come to the wilderness boundary sign, and the trail (finally!) starts to level off.  For some reason I didn't way point this spot, but given that there's a big sign there, you're unlikely to need a GPS waypoint to find this spot.
Wilderness boundary sign on the Vivian Creek Trail.
142 - Vivian Falls Overlook.  Just past the boundary sign, look for a faint trail leading down and to the left.  This leads to a little overlook from which you can see Vivian Falls.
Vivian Falls are flowing nicely, and the canyoneers are out in force.
143 - Vivian Creek Camp.  After passing the overlook, one enters the lovely forested area that hosts Vivian Creek Camp, one of the nicest trail camps in the San Gorgonio Wilderness.  Oddly, I saw no tents here even though it was Memorial Day Weekend.
Sign pointing to Vivian Creek Camp
In terms of greenery and scenery, Vivian Creek is definitely the most beautiful of the three camps along the Vivian Creek Trail.
Meadow and spring near Vivian Creek Trail Camp
Near Vivian Creek Trail Camp.
144 - Vivian Crossing.  After passing Vivian Creek Camp, one crosses to the west bank of Vivian Creek.  The point that the trail crosses is known as Vivian Crossing.  Water was flowing reasonably well here but by no means high volume.
Vivian Crossing
145 and 146.  Three downed trees fairly close together.
First downed tree.  Approx 30" diameter.

First Downed Tree from the other side.  You can squeeze through.
Second Downed tree.  24" diameter.  Bypass on downhill side.
Bypass is destroying trail tread and causing erosion.
Third Down Tree.  Lying directly on trail.  Bypass on downhill side.
Bypass is causing some erosion.  ~24" diameter.
While fallen logs on the trail aren't much fun, fallen logs across the creek are another matter.
Crossing Vivian Creek on a large fallen log.
148.  Another downed tree.  A small one.
Downed Tree.  8" diameter.  Easy step over for most people.  No erosion problems.  Low priority.
149 - Yet another downed tree.  I forgot to take a photo of this one.  No further info.  Sorry.  But it couldn't be too bad or I'd remember it.

150 - A massive downed tree.
Massive downed tree.  40+ inch diameter.  Bypass around left.  No erosion caused.
160 - Halfway Spring.  Vivian Creek where the trail crosses the creek right before Halfway Camp is dry, but if you go 500 feet up the creek bed, you will encounter Halfway Spring.  The flow is fairly low, but it is flowing.
Halfway Spring
151 - Halfway Junction.  Note that Halfway Junction is approximately halfway between Vivian Creek Camp and High Creek Camp.  It is NOT halfway to the summit of San Gorgonio Mountain.  It's roughly 10 miles each way to San Gorgonio Mountain.  Halfway Camp is at mile 4.  Yes, some out of date sources list the mileage as 8 miles each way to San Gorgonio Mountain.  Um, no.  It's a lot further than that.  Maybe it's 9.5 miles instead of 10, but it certainly isn't 8 miles.  You've still got about 6 miles to go when you reach this junction.
Halfway Junction.  Joycie points the way:
Right to Halfway Camp; Left to High Creek Camp and San Gorgonio Mountain.
152 - Halfway Camp.  A nice place, but unfortunately there are those who have no self respect and don't give a darn about nature or anyone else.  Why they go out into the beauty of nature only to despoil it, I will never understand.  I broke up three fire circles, and dug up three others that were just on open ground.
Halfway is actually a pretty nice (and spacious) place to camp.  Unfortunately, some people are scum bags.
On the other hand, there are some really nice people in this world.  My neighbors at camp packed this junk out.
Illegal fire circle at Halfway Camp.
We lost half the wilderness last  year when a fire got out of control.  What are these people thinking!?
Unfortunately I couldn't break this one up; the rocks were too big and too embedded in the ground.
153 - Another downed tree.  This one is a serious impediment to travel.  Two logs are stacked one atop another.  You can bypass on the high side.  The bypass is causing erosion.
Top log about 30" diameter.
Bottom log about 20" diameter.
Of course if you're small of stature, you can just go under it.
When you're small, you just go under.
"Why can't you go under, daddy?"
154 - Another downed tree.  Directly across the trail.  Not much option but to climb it.  A bit of a challenge for those with a heavy overnight backpack.
About 36" diameter.
Note Joycie bypassing the downed tree with her usual aplomb.  Not recommended for adults.
155 - Illegal campsite and fire circle.  I removed the fire circle.

156 - a small washout, but it's going to get worse.  The tread is narrow here if you look closely.  Just trimming back the manzanita would help.
Small washout leaving the tread fairly narrow. 

157 - Junction with use trail to High Creek Falls.
The junction with the use trail to High Creek Falls is just past this dead snag.
Plenty of water going over High Creek Falls
High Creek Falls.
It's a bit of a trick to get a good shot of High Creek Falls, but despite the poor quality of my photos, I assure you that it's worth the short trip down the side trail to visit.  And there's a something of a nice view from the top of the falls.
Taking in the the view from the top of High Creek Falls
If ever you have trouble finding water at High Creek Camp, just go into the stream bed immediately above the falls.  Water is forced up by the bedrock.  There's nearly always water here.
High Creek, just above High Creek Falls.  Plenty of water.
158 - E. Fork High Creek.  Oddly, it is the E Fork of High Creek that typically has water even though the W Fork drains a larger area.  It was flowing very nicely indeed on Memorial Day weekend.  If the first drainage that you come to is dry, the one where the tent sites are, panic not.  The next drainage to the east is where the water typically is.  Even if the E Fork were dry, there should be water just above High Creek Falls.
E. Fork High Creek, 5/29/2016.

159 - High Creek Camp.  The camp area at High Creek is most known as a jumping off spot for assaults on San Gorgonio Mountain and for its good water supply.  It's not nearly as nice as Vivian Creek Camp or Halfway Camp.  It's a bit exposed, and it's quite rocky.
Tent site at High Creek Camp
To only make matters worse, there are people who don't know how to use the bathroom in the woods.  You need to bring a potty trowel or the equivalent and dig a hole 6 to 8 inches deep and bury all human solid waste in the hole.  Pack out or bury your toilet paper.  Putting a rock over your toilet paper is NOT burying it.
Improper disposal of toilet tissue.  Toilet tissue should be buried 6 to 8" deep or packed out.  Do NOT burn!
You need to be at least 100 feet and preferably 200 feet away from creek beds -- even if they're dry at the time.  Creek beds should not be used as a latrine!  The next rain will flush all the human waste into the water supply.  Wildlife can be decimated by human disease introduced through poor hygiene.
W Fork High Creek.  Note toilet paper.  People are using the creek bed as a latrine.
Feminine products should be placed in a zip lock bag and packed out.  They will not bio-degrade.  Come back 50 or 100 years later, and they'll still be there.
Uh, just put it in a ziplock and pack it out, OK?  I mean, how hard is it?  If it's really gross, just double bag it.
And here's our "loser of the week" entry:  An illegal fire pit and trash in an illegal camp site.  And why, if you can pack in a water bottle that weighs 2 lbs when full, can't you pack out a bottle that weighs 1 oz now that it's empty?  I just don't get it.
Illegal fire pit at an illegal camp site with trash dumped.  You just won "loser of the week."
I hate to be so negative, but really, why come to the wilderness just to trash it?  What?
Trash collected and bagged.  This is just what I carried out.  Thank you to the other two groups that also packed out trash.
I looked like a junk peddler with so much trash lashed to the back of my pack, lol.
And lots more fire circles.  All fires are illegal in the San Gorgonio Wilderness all the time, in all four seasons, all year round.
Before.  The fire circle is over Joycie's left shoulder and is filled in with rocks (as if that would hide it).  
Clean up.  Fortunately I have an assistant to help me dig up fire circles.
There was a bit of snow across the switchbacks above High Creek.  Nothing serious but some people were using that as an excuse to cut the trail.  I had a small shovel along, so I cut some trail through the snow.
I cut some trail over a snow bank.  Hopefully that makes travel a little easier.
I also piled up a bunch of wood at the place where people were cutting the trail.
I suspect that people who cut the trail probably have never done trail work. Trails are HARD WORK and cutting the trail can wipe out a trail.  People who have done trail work know just how much effort is involved and I don't think they'll do destructive things.

But let's not focus on the negative.  This is a great area, and there's fun things to do,
Bouldering near Halfway Camp
 and great scenery to view.
Yucaipa Ridge seen from hear High Creek Camp.
There's my trip report for the Vivian Creek Trail.  Hope it's instructive, and I hope I'm not too much of a downer harping on trash and stuff.  Most people love the wilderness and work to preserve it.  I'm sure the people who read a blog like this aren't the ones who try to trash the wilderness and light fires.  Please, enjoy and care for the wilderness – and stay safe out there.

Thanks for joining me,


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The MSR Dragonfly -- A Brief Overview

It's been a while since I've posted anything.

Here's a quick video on a stove that's stood the test of time, the MSR Dragonfly.  Notice that during the priming of the stove, there is no "fireball".  It takes some practice, but it is possible to prime a white gas stove without a fireball, particularly on a nice stove like the Dragon fly with it's really fine valve control.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Updated Lake Fire Closure Map

I haven't posted an update on the Lake Fire lately.  The fire has been quietly smoldering, within it's borders, and there hasn't been much in the way of specific news.

However, the Forest Service issued some good news:  They've lifted the blanket closure and opened up many parts of the San Gorgonio Wilderness that were heretofore closed.
High Creek Falls, just off the Vivian Creek Trail in the San Gorgonio Wilderness.
This area is now OPEN to hiking as of 7/16/2015
The Forest Service has issued a map, showing the closure area (see below) and what "recreational opportunities" are currently open (open trails are shown with red dashed lines).  The map is a little hard to read, and it's a little hard to tell what's in and what's out of the closure area.
Official USFS Lake Fire Closure Area map as of 16 July 2015.  The red dashed lines are trails that are open.
Because the above map from the USFS is a little hard to read, I've gone ahead and drawn out the boundaries of the updated Lake Fire closure area on a topo map (immediately below), or you can open the updated Lake Fire closure area map in a separate window.  Hopefully, with my map, you can tell which of your favorite peaks and places are in vs. out of the fire closure.
Note that the boundaries I have drawn are approximate.  I say approximate because I've drawn the boundaries free hand just based on the USFS map  I haven't followed any detailed written legal descriptions of the closure.  That said, I think the boundaries I've drawn convey the sense of the closure.  If you're on a trail I've shown outside the closure, I don't think you have to worry about getting hassled by the authorities.  I have however placed the text of the closure order in Appendix II, below, if there is any question as to what is or is not within the closure area.

While I wish that the Lake Fire had never occurred, I hail this good news from the Forest Service and salute this common sense approach.  There simply was no valid reason to keep the southern portions of the San Gorgonio Wilderness closed; the fire never touched them.

I also greatly appreciate that the Forest Service has made a special "carve out" inside the closure boundaries such that San Gorgonio Mountain, one of the most popular peaks in Southern California, is now open to hikers.

Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) hikers take note:  The PCT is closed throughout the entire closure area except maybe a very short section around Coon Creek Cabin.  The closure extends from one mile west of the San Gorgonio Wilderness boundary, roughly mile 237, to Onyx Summit, roughly mile 252.  See map in Appendix I, below.

Errata:  Be aware that the lower section of the Falls Creek Trail, 1E04, is shown as open on the official USFS map, shown above.  This is an error.  The trail was closed about 50 years ago during the 1960's because of private property issues.  The lower part of the trail was destroyed and no longer exists when a series of houses were built.  If you go to the Momyer Creek Trailhead looking for the lower Falls Creek Trail, you simply won't find it.  The USFS map is correct in that the trail is outside the closure area but incorrect inasmuch as it implies that the lower Falls Creek Trail exists in the position shown as an open, official trail.


Appendix I - A Second Lake Fire Closure Order Map - What is Closed.
This USFS map is the opposite of the first map.  This map shows trails and roads that are closed.

Appendix II - Text of the Revised Lake Fire Closure Order

Forest Order No.  05-12-51-15-04
Lake Fire Closure

Pursuant to 16 USC 551 and 36 CFR 261.50(a) and (b), to provide for public safety and protect natural resources, the following acts are prohibited within the Mountaintop and Front Country Ranger Districts of the San Bernardino National Forest.  This Order is effective from July 16, 2015 through July 15, 2016.
1.  Going into or being upon National Forest System lands within the Lake Fire Closure Area.  The Lake Fire Closure Area boundary begins at the intersection of the Santa Ana River Trail (Forest Trail No. 2E03) and State Highway (SH) 38, then continues east along SH 38 to its intersection with Jenks Lake Road, then continues west along the south side of Jenks Lake Road to its intersection with the east fork of Barton’s Creek, then continues south by southeast along the south and east side of Forest Trail Nos. 1E16 and 1E06 to its intersection with Forest Trail No. 1E04, then continues northeast to east along the north side of Forest Trail No. 1E04 to its intersection with Forest Trail No 1W07, then continues east along the north side of Forest Trail No 1W07 to its intersection with San Gogornio Mountain, then continues southeast west of  Forest Trail No 1W07 around     San Gogornio Peak, then continues south along the section line between Sections 12 and 13, Township 1 South, Range 1 East, San Bernardino Base and Meridian (SBB&M), and Sections 7 and 18, Township 1 South, Range 2 East, SBB&M, then continues east along the southern section line of Sections 18, 17, 16, 15, 14, 13; in Township 1 South, Range 2 East, MDB&M, to its intersection with the Forest boundary, then continues north and east along the Forest Boundary to its intersection with the southern section line of Section 34, Township 2 North, Range 3 East, SBB&M, then continues northwest along Heartbreak Ridge to its intersection with the western section line of Section 32, Township 2 North, Range 3 East, SBB&M, then continues south along the western section line of Section 32, Township 2 North, Range 3 East, and Section 5, Township 1 North, Range 3 East, SBB&M, to its intersection with Onyx Peak, then continues west along the northern section line of Section 7, Township 1 North, Range 3 East, SBB&M, to its intersection with the west side of the Pacific Crest Trail, then continues in a southerly and southwestern direction along the west side of the Pacific Crest Trail to its intersection with Forest Road No. 1N37, then continues northwesterly on the north side of Forest Road No. 1N37 to the intersection with the Santa Ana River Trail, then continues westerly along the north side of the Santa Ana River Trail back to the starting point, as shown on the attached map.  36 CFR 261.53(e).
2.  Being on any National Forest System trail within the Lake Fire Closure Area, as shown on the attached map.  36 CFR 261.55(a).
3.  Being on any National Forest System road within the Lake Fire Closure Area, as shown on the attached map.  36 CFR 261.54(e).
Pursuant to 36 CFR 261.50(e), the following persons are exempt from this Order:
1.   Any Federal, State or local officer, or member of an organized rescue or fire fighting force in the performance of an official duty.
2.   Persons with a permit from the Forest Service specifically authorizing the otherwise prohibited act or omission.
3.      Owners or lessees of private land within the Lake Fire Closure Area, to the extent necessary to gain access to their land.
These prohibitions are in addition to the general prohibitions in 36 CFR Part 261, Subpart A.
A violation of these prohibitions is punishable by a fine of not more than $5000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization or imprisonment for not more than six months, or both 16 USC 551 and 18 USC 3559, 3571, and 3581.
Executed in San Bernardino, California, this 16th day of July, 2015
Forest Supervisor
San Bernardino National Forest