San Gorgonio Mountain, Bighorn Mountain, Dragons Head

21 August 1988

By: Joe Young


Leaders: Joe Young, Stag Brown

Nine hikers met at 6:15AM at the Pomona carpool point and sorted themselves into three cars for the ride to the Vivian Creek roadhead. At 8:15AM, the group began its steep hike up the Vivian Creek trail, stopping every hour. Clouds and the occasional dense forest kept the temperature down to pleasant levels. We arrived on the summit of San Gorgonio at about 1:15PM, and enjoyed a lengthy lunch break there. Despite threatening skies we enjoyed a warm and generally sunny stay on the summit.

After lunch six of us began the trip along the Sky High trail around the south side of San Gorgonio, then headed south, cross-country, down about 1000 feet to the eerie, flat oval known as Tosh's Tarn on the Defenders of the San Gorgonio Wilderness map and simply as the Tarn on the USGS topographical map. We crossed the lifeless tarn and began the 500 feet ascent of Bighorn. Boy Scouts have left an ammo box containing the registers, both of which go back to 1975, the year of the official HPS exploratory led by Jim Cervenka and Walter Rossington.

Returning to the Tarn we proceeded westerly to the saddle just north of Dragon's Head and ascended to its summit. From the saddle the elevation gain is about 200 feet. A secure ammo box contains registers similar to that on Bighorn. The ridge from the saddle as well as the west slopes of the peak are comprised of talus and scree, but the east face is sheer. The coloring on this peak is spectacular, a fact that is not apparent when viewed from the Vivian Creek trail.

After we returned to the saddle north of Dragon's Head, we contoured northwesterly, side-hilling and gradually gaining perhaps 200 feet until we met the Vivian Creek trail. This took about 45 minutes. By this time it was after 5:00PM, and we began our descent. We did not return to the cars until after 8:00PM, having spent a full twelve hours on the hike.

The HPS erred thirteen years ago when it voted against the addition of Bighorn and Dragon's Head to the HPS List. These are worthy peaks and climbing them takes one into areas not seen or traversed when bagging San Gorgonio or other San Bernardino area peaks. Tosh's Tarn is a fascinating place. We observed what we believed were Big Horn Sheep tracks on the Tarn, perhaps used as rutting grounds by the sheep. Yet the Tarn cannot be seen from San Gorgonio. While the final summit climbs of Bighorn and Dragon's Head do not involve significant gain, nevertheless a day's climb of them involves 4000 to 6000 feet of gain depending upon the road head.

Our totals of this day: 17-18 miles and approximately 6500 feet gain.


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