Across time and cultures, spiritual practitioners have withdrawn for periods of time into the Wilderness to deepen their connection with the Divine. This weekend I spent three full days in the depth of the San Gorgonio Wilderness during which time I briefly encountered only 3 other hikers and 1 park ranger. There was a total absence of human generated light and sounds. Pure silence and only the music of the forest, pure sunlight and moonlight and starlight. It was a perfect opportunity to deepen my Hiking Yoga practice and my connection with Divine Source.
DAY ONE started with me arriving later than I had wanted at the Ranger Station to pick up my permit. After consulting with the knowledgeable and helpful staff, I decided to alter my itinerary and summit Gorgonio immediately and make camp on the summit overnight.
The trail was beautiful and challenging, with the most continuously vertical elevation gain of any of the trails I have hiked. The weather was warm but got progressively cooler as I climbed. I already knew that I would be summiting in the light of the Full Moon, but did not want o arrive so late that the cold made setting up camp difficult. I pushed hard to High Camp, where a Ranger told me that my time of 5.5 hours to that point was quite good. I filled up on water from the last creek before the summit and pushed on. As I climbed I did start to get some symptoms of Altitude Sickness...nausea, sluggishness and loss of appetite. The sun went down and the moon quickly emerged to take his place. By that time I was above the tree line so visibility in the moonlight was quite good, though I also had a headlamp. Still, my pace slowed considerably due to the low light conditions and the altitude sickness. I summited in exactly 9 hours (the average time for this hike) and just as I did my phone started to emit a series of notification sounds! Apparently I had walked into a time-space wormhole anomaly in which somehow cell signal got through. I managed to get off a few texts to friends before the wormhole closed. I set up my Bivy in the rapidly dropping coldness and climbed into my cocoon. Fortunately there was no wind, only a light breeze. Eventually the temperature dropped below freezing. I meditated in my bivy on the full moon and subtle sounds of the mountain.
VIVIAN CREEK TRAIL TO SUMMIT: 9 MILES, 9 HOURS
DAY TWO I woke up to catch the spectacular sunrise and was treated to a simultaneous sunrise and moonset! I explored the summit and eventually located the official marker, taking the obligatory photos. Around 9 am I started my descent having spent the last 12 hours as the only human being on the highest point in southern California for a radius of at least 5 miles in all directions. The trail down was one of the most BEAUTIFUL stretches I have seen and the trail itself was quite amiable and gradual, making for a smooth and quick descent to lower elevations where my altitude sickness gradually dissipated.
Although the Vivian Creek trail ascent had been tough and demanding, my body felt fluid and easeful and my sometimes cranky right knee was feeling amazingly good. You may doubt this but I know that because I practice these hikes as devotional and meditation practice dedicated to Divine Mother (and Shiva too) that I receive energetic healing blessings as a result. I experience this directly and clearly. I ate very little on this trip yet I always had the energy I needed. If we practice correctly, we can activate the Spiritual Energy Body and gradually replace food energy with Divine Power (Shakti).
My destination on Saturday was Dobbs Camp where I would overnight. I did not have time to research this camp and was surprised to find that it was located way down at the bottom of a river canyon. This made for a perfect contrast with the naked, expansive summit. At Dobbs I was enclosed in a deep canyon with rushing waters and enormous Sequoias and Redwoods everywhere. Again, not another human soul to be found. I set up camp and meditated and eventually the sun set and the full moon came out. In the pure darkness of the canyon the full moon light illuminated the forest with a magical silvery glow. Really a spectacular sight!
GORGONIO SUMMIT TO DOBBS CAMP 9 MILES, 6 HOURS.
DAY THREE I woke up to catch the sunrise peeking over the eastern ridge crest, the early morning light enriching the reddish coloration of the trees. I explored the camp and the river, finding numerous beautiful riverbank spots to meditate and contemplate. I found a pleasant pool with a smooth bottom and stripped down and did some skinny dipping! Bathing in the mountain stream was energizing and enlivening! Nobody but chipmunks for miles around, so why not? Returned to camp and finding the environment and the weather most conducive I did my first extended sit of the trip. The energy of the place was quite available. Around 3 pm I decamped and hit the trail to complete the final 7 miles back to the Vivian Creek trailhead. This portion of the trail involved quite a few steep climbs and steep descents as well as winding switchbacks, and may have been the most physically demanding section of the entire trail. But I found myself taking the hills with great verve and even began to trail run the downside portions! Logically I should have felt worn and beat up by this point of the trip, but rather I felt most energetic and strong. Divine Mother's blessings once again! Om Jaya Shakti Ma! I finished the hike with great enthusiasm and energy.
DOBBS CAMP TO VIVIAN CREEK TRAILHEAD, 7 MILES, 4.5 HOURS.
Total Trail Time: 19.5 hours
Total Distance: 25 Miles
Total Experience: PRICELESS!
I will definitely be planning another immersion into this pristine Wilderness that is just 1.5 hours from L.A. for next year!
This was a preparation for Mt. Whitney this coming weekend (22 miles, 14,500 feet, 6000 feet of elevation gain). My pack amounted to somewhere between 20-25 lbs. and I handled it quite well, learning to work with my pack to make it more comfortable along the way. I got experience with my water filtration strategy and with preparation for cold conditions and learned about my nutritional requirements for a long distance hike. Yup, I'm ready for Mt. Whitney!