Possible Lake Fire PCT Bypass

Southern California and far-away places. Hiking, wildlife, cycling etc.

Possible Lake Fire PCT Bypass

Postby Hikin_Jim » Thu Jan 07, 2016 11:23 pm

The PCT through hiking season starts in a few months. Planning ahead, I've been trying to come up with a bypass for the Lake Fire Closure. There aren't a lot of great options out there, but I have a couple of ideas, ideas I'd love to get your input on. Access issues could render one or both of my ideas dead in the water. :)

Here's a map of what I've come up with so far. This has not been checked in any way. This is very preliminary stuff for discussion purposes only.

The map:
Possible Lake Fire PCT Bypass

For reference, a map of the Lake Fire Closure area:
Lake Fire Closure area map

Input appreciated,

HJ
Backpacking stove reviews and information:  Adventures In Stoving
Personal hiking blog: Hikin' Jim's Blog
User avatar
Hikin_Jim
 
Posts: 4869
Joined: Mon Oct 30, 2006 9:12 pm
Location: Orange County, CA

Re: Possible Lake Fire PCT Bypass

Postby Hikin_Jim » Tue Jan 12, 2016 6:31 pm

It seems like the trick for a Lake Fire bypass to the east is to get from the Coachella Valley to Morongo Valley.

There are "obvious" routes possible:
1. Dry Morongo Canyon
2. Big Morongo Canyon
3. Little Morongo Canyon

Highway 62 goes up Dry Morongo, so that's out.
Big Morongo looks reasonably good although there's possibly some private property on the north end.
Little Morongo might also work, but it's definitely got private property issues on the south end.

I've added one more route option to get from the Coachella Valley to Morongo Valley: Hopping over the ridge from Mission Creek (the PCT ascends Mission Creek) to Morongo Valley.

I'm hopeful that either one or the other of the two canyon routes or the one ridge route will work. Time and weather permitting, I'll try walking some of these before April.

HJ
Backpacking stove reviews and information:  Adventures In Stoving
Personal hiking blog: Hikin' Jim's Blog
User avatar
Hikin_Jim
 
Posts: 4869
Joined: Mon Oct 30, 2006 9:12 pm
Location: Orange County, CA

Re: Possible Lake Fire PCT Bypass

Postby norcalhiker » Thu Feb 18, 2016 9:13 pm

Hikin' Jim,

Are you hiking the PCT or just helping out the hikers for 2016? Hopefully they'll have it open by mid-summer, but that still leaves the early hikers (like me leaving April 1) missing a section of trail.

Here's the best alternate I came up with:
http://caltopo.com/m/H1KT

It requires some serious bushwhacking for about 6 miles to get out of Whitewater Canyon up onto Middle Fork Jumpoff and then up onto Bighorn Mtn and then the real trails on San Gorgonio. That or permission to go up the Forest Road road from Banning, and only 4 miles of bushwhack up Bighorn Mtn.

I really like this alternate because it offers great vistas and follows the high crest of these mountains, maintaining the spirit of the PCT. And it keeps the continuity of walking north to Big Bear.
norcalhiker
 
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Feb 18, 2016 9:00 pm

Re: Possible Lake Fire PCT Bypass

Postby Hikin_Jim » Fri Feb 19, 2016 10:12 pm

I'm just trying to help out. And, yes, I absolutely agree that reopening the normal route of the PCT is the absolute best option. The San Bernardino National Forest is one of the better run National Forests in the area (relatively speaking) for whatever reason, so let's hope they get it together in time for the PCT Class of 2016 to pass through.

A few problems with your bypass:
1. You're still cutting through the Lake Fire Closure Area. Township 1 South, Range 2 East, Sections 17 and 18 are part of the fire closure. If you're going to blow of the fire closure, that's your business, but you may as well take the regular route of the PCT in that case.
2. Many of the trails shown in and around Township 1 South, Range 2 East, Section 20 no longer exist. Indeed the trail shown going from Middle Fork Jump Off to Bighorn Mountain and from there crossing the tarn to join the Vivian Creek Trail has never existed in the history of the world. I don't know what that particular cartographer was thinking; perhaps he was smoking crack? I've been hiking up there since the 1960's and my dad since the 1940's and my grandfather since the 1920's. There is not now nor has there ever been a trail there.
3. That area is far more rugged than you may fully realize. As for going from the Middle Fork of the Whitewater River to the Vivian Creek Trail, it can be done; indeed I know people who have done it -- about 3 parties in the history of the Wilderness. Maybe a couple of others I don't know about, but making passage through that rugged, brushy area is no trivial feat. Unless you're really an exceptional athlete, you might want to think twice. Up to you of course. If you can do it, it would be an AWESOME accomplishment, and I will be the first to congratulate you. Indeed, if you hike all the way from Mexico and succeed in getting from Whitewater to Vivian Creek by a route through the wilderness, I'm good for a steak dinner and a beer at any restaurant in the vicinity of the PCT in the San Bernardino Mountains (probably Big Bear or Angelus Oaks). I don't mean to discourage you, but it is really something that you'd want to think through.

Good luck on the trail,

HJ
Backpacking stove reviews and information:  Adventures In Stoving
Personal hiking blog: Hikin' Jim's Blog
User avatar
Hikin_Jim
 
Posts: 4869
Joined: Mon Oct 30, 2006 9:12 pm
Location: Orange County, CA

Re: Possible Lake Fire PCT Bypass

Postby norcalhiker » Sat Feb 20, 2016 10:17 am

Thanks Hikin' Jim, for this valuable feedback.

I have looked at several photos of the area and I do recognize that cross country treks like this are very difficult and slow going. I didn't fully expect that the trails were still in good condition but to be completely non-existent is surprising. Another option that might be legal but more difficult could be to go from Middle Fork Jumpoff, past Silverwood Falls to Mill Creek Jumpoff, and then try to scramble over/up to the Vivian Creek trail. I saw one account that it's possible, but it looks even steeper and thicker over there so not ideal.

I saw the original closure map, but then on their official alerts page they don't have anything but a list of trails that are closed. So it's hard to know what's what - it seems to me they should post the latest order on their page where they list the official closures.http://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/sbnf/alerts-notices When I emailed the San Jacinto district they gave me an "updated" Mountain Fire closure map that no longer includes 4F17, which means I can hike down to Palm Springs. Seems updated closure maps should show up on their page, but I guess you have to ask. So that's why I was paying more attention to the actual fire boundary rather than the PLSS Sections they closed. Maybe I would need a special permit.

Thanks again for the help.
norcalhiker
 
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Feb 18, 2016 9:00 pm

Re: Possible Lake Fire PCT Bypass

Postby Magoo » Sat Feb 20, 2016 2:33 pm

HIker Jim--I was looking at the west side via Banning Canyon, Glen Camp, Wilshire Peak, Forest Falls, San Berdoo Peak Divide Trail. But someone said the roads going up Banning Canyon are private property posted No Trespassing. Thoughts?
Magoo
 
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Feb 20, 2016 2:25 pm

Re: Possible Lake Fire PCT Bypass

Postby Hikin_Jim » Sat Feb 20, 2016 5:21 pm

norcalhiker wrote: Another option that might be legal but more difficult could be to go from Middle Fork Jumpoff, past Silverwood Falls to Mill Creek Jumpoff, and then try to scramble over/up to the Vivian Creek trail. I saw one account that it's possible, but it looks even steeper and thicker over there so not ideal.
I know of several people who have done it. The most recent person posted this photo thereafter. He was wearing long pants. Ouch. But it can be done though -- and it's legal. You'd just better be one tough mother. Would I do it after walking all the way from Mexico? No, but that's me.
Legs_Scratches_Silverwood_Falls-Mill_Creek.jpg


norcalhiker wrote:on their official alerts page they don't have anything but a list of trails that are closed. So it's hard to know what's what - it seems to me they should post the latest order on their page where they list the official closures.

I agree. It actually is there, but it's darned hard to find. Maybe though if you had a friend whose initials were HJ, he could help you out. ;) Oh, why look, here is the updated official closure map for the current closure order:
http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprd3845904.pdf

Here is my version of the closure map, sketched onto a topo map. I think mine is the more detailed to plan by, but take your pick.
http://caltopo.com/m/0C0P

HJ
Backpacking stove reviews and information:  Adventures In Stoving
Personal hiking blog: Hikin' Jim's Blog
User avatar
Hikin_Jim
 
Posts: 4869
Joined: Mon Oct 30, 2006 9:12 pm
Location: Orange County, CA

Re: Possible Lake Fire PCT Bypass

Postby Hikin_Jim » Sat Feb 20, 2016 5:27 pm

Magoo wrote:someone said the roads going up Banning Canyon are private property posted No Trespassing. Thoughts?
Yeah, it's posted No Trespassing. I know guys who have done it, but it caused a flap when it got found out. Up to you there. :)

HJ
Backpacking stove reviews and information:  Adventures In Stoving
Personal hiking blog: Hikin' Jim's Blog
User avatar
Hikin_Jim
 
Posts: 4869
Joined: Mon Oct 30, 2006 9:12 pm
Location: Orange County, CA


Return to Outdoors-Related Topics

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest