Josh and I planned to hike the Vivian Creek Trail in preparation for Cactus To Clouds but the government had other plans.
We arrived at the Vivian parking area in Forest Falls and were greeted by these signs. Even tough we knew in advance it was going to be closed, it was still a bummer to see them.
We headed down two miles to the Momyer Trail parking area which is not gated and squeezed into a parking space. It was clear by the crowded lot that the Momyer Trail was everyone's back up plan for the Vivian closure.
Since our trail of choice was labeled closed, we decided to hike up Mill Creek toward the Jump Off. It was warm and super clear with the Santa Ana Winds prevailing.
Hiking up the creek bed was interesting. The geology is amazing there with granite boulders in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes. I also learned there is an island with houses on it in the middle of the creek!
All around the signs of fall were present with the Black Oaks starting to turn and the Pines dropping their cones.
While picking up trash in the creek, Josh happened upon a new pair of shades. I think they suit him, absolutely.
Winding in and out of fern grottos we made our way toward Big Falls viewing area.
The sign on the gate at Vivian said Big Falls Trail was closed in addition to Vivian. When we arrived at the trail head, there was no signage confirming that closure. We risked it and took the short hike up to the base of the falls.
It is so cool to know where this water comes from higher up in the mountain. I feel at home here.
Back in the creek we head toward Vivian. Once at the parking area we rose out of the creek and followed the paralleling dirt road for a while to let our calves recover. Hiking in the soft sand is a challenge!
At the end of the road we dropped back in to the creek. The terrain became sharp and foreboding and there was a definite vibe in the air. This area seemed untouched and more wild than further down.
The headwall started to come into view after several twists and turns. It was impressive to see such a large natural feature. I tried to imagine the size and scale of the glacier that formed it, millions of years ago. On top of this wall is a meadow that is about 2 miles wide, as the crow flies. On the other side is the Middle Fork Jump Off of the Whitewater River. That headwall is twice the size of this one.
The sides of the hills had fresh wounds from the recent flash floods and were a mass of scree and tangled tree roots. At canyon junctions near the base of Galena Mountain and the Yucaipa ridge, large flood channels looked like they were recently flushed. The water must have been extraordinarily fast and high through these canyon drainages.
It seemed, the closer we got to the headwall, the further away it would go. The soft sand gave way to solid granite boulders creating a series of waterfalls.
Still far from the end and the trail became non-existent. We took to scaling boulders which was a challenge due to their slick surfaces.
After climbing for a while we reached a cliff. We found a use trial that I presume takes you up Galena Peak, and followed it over the waterfall. As we climbed higher we saw another large falls on the side of the mountain. This is the outlet for High Creek on the Vivian Trail! Now when I'm up there, I will have a better understanding of the topography of this particular area.
We didn't make it all the way to the end as it was getting dark. We decided that this high up the creek, we had the possibility of encountering large wildlife that we were unprepared for. We decided to save the actual wall for another day.
Heading down, the light played tricks on the water and I could feel animals watching us from the thick forest on either side.
Walking back to the Momyer parking area we opted to take the street. Forest Falls has some creative holiday decorations. This is adorable!
It was a very interesting hike and left me with the itch to climb the headwall and Galena, very soon! After the hike we headed down to Redlands for a well deserved hamburger dinner.
We spent the night in the truck and woke up around 7 the next morning. We were slow to rise and drank coffee while chatting with a fellow hiker who was inconvenienced by the Government Closure. He decided to hike Vivian anyway as he was prepping for Whitney. I sure hope they get it together soon, so he can still do his Whitney hike!
Finally up and at 'em, we decide to hike up Momyer to the Wilderness boundary. Well really, a little passed it, but don't tell. Our tentative plan is to hang out at Alger Creek for a while and maybe attempt some of the unmaintained trail to San Bernardino Peak.
It was hot hot hot and so dry I could feel my face cracking. The Santa Ana conditions played havoc on our allergies as well but made the views amazingly clear.
Along the trail we encountered many signs of bear activity. There was scat and tufts of fur that were very fresh.
As the trail turned away from the creek we remembered how steep it is! I think Momyer is much more difficult than Vivian in its gain.
After some slow going and a lot of breaks, we arrived at Alger Creek. We chatted with a fellow hiker for a while and exchanged trail info for other SoCal hikes.
We decided to call it a day after a big lunch and packed up the hill. Josh and I were both feeling tired this weekend but were still pleased we pushed it and got in some good trail miles anyway, even if they weren't the epic totals we planned.
Fall is beautiful in San Gorgonio. The black Oaks were stunning. We plan to hike to Aspen Grove next weekend and hope the leaves will hang on until then.
Back at the lower elevations, the desert creatures were out in force on such a hot day.
The obligatory feet picture. :-)
It was a relaxing and interesting hiking weekend.
We were able to change our hiking plans to accommodate the government, now we hope the government will return to accommodating us, the tax payers, very soon.