San Bernardino Mountains
Written by leader Ted Kalil
Photos by Allan Wicker
When I arrived at the Greenspot Equestrian Group Campground Friday afternoon, the Nevada pilgrims, Mignon Slentz with her brand new Toyota FourRunner, and Glenn Shaw, were already there and set up, along with Jim Proffitt. Later we were joined by Marian and Neal Johns. Saturday morning Terry Ogden arrived, having come to the campground Friday evening but left after not seeing our campfire. We traveled up to Onyx Summit on SH 38, then on to Thurman Flats picnic area, where we met up with Allan Wicker and Mal Roode. From there, we went a short distance to the start of trail 1S12 where, after first making a side trip, Jim Proffitt again joined us. Then we headed towards the Morton Peak Lookout. When we got to a locked gate, though, I found that my Forest Service key was of no use because there was only a combination lock installed. So, we weren’t able to look in on the lookout.
We then proceeded down 1S13, Warm Springs Road, towards the bottom rear of Seven Oaks Dam, a very large flood control reservoir that had hardly any water in it. Another locked gate was encountered but this time the key worked; we got to the bottom and then traveled up the Santa Ana River bed heading for the Edison Mill Creek Hydroelectric Plant #2 built in the late 1800s. On the way we saw remains of an old aqueduct system. However, we were again blocked by a gate which had four locks, none of them the right one, and had to turn around there. For a damsite more info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Oaks_Dam
Back up the hill onto 1N12, and after traveling along that for a while we found a wide spot for lunch in anticipation of rain, as clouds were forming. Afterwards, it did rain some and continued as we went past the Thomas Hunting Grounds (who was Thomas and why was he hunted?) and on to Angelus Oaks where the trail ended. From there we went back up SH 38, turning off onto 2N93, the Wildhorse Road going past Wildhorse Meadows. Great views as we climbed the mountain, and even better ones as we descended on the other side. The trail ultimately took us right back to our campground, from which Terry later departed for home. Allan stayed to participate in the terrific potluck dinner followed by two delicious Slentz Surprises (aka Mignon’s Miracles) for dessert. We again had a nice campfire that evening - maybe some of the shared stories were at least partially true.
Next morning we got an earlier start, but Jim Proffitt had to leave for home leaving six of us. It was good to see Jim out and about after his life changing surgery. And here I’d thought he was using a lame excuse accompanied by a photoshopped pic not to attend my January trip! While still in the campground, there was an incident involving a fire ring that I can’t talk about - I tried to get all sworn to secrecy in the name of the Patriot Act and National Security, but the only swear words I heard can’t be printed here. Next we went to Moonridge in Big Bear and on up 2N10, Skyline Drive, which offered us great alternating views of the Big Bear Valley and beyond on one side and Mt. San Gorgonio - Old Greyback - on the other. As we were traveling, some noticed a smoke plume. When we stopped to further observe, we tried to call the Forest Service but were unsuccessful; no telephone signal, no clear satellite signal, and I wasn’t able to get radio contact. However, a little further on we got phone service, called it in, and found that fire crews were already on site. Continuing on to 2N11, we came to the Champion Lodgepole Pine, the largest in the country. Back up and out to the top of 1N54, Clark’s Grade, the old original trail to Big Bear built as a toll road. Through lack of use and maintenance, this historic and scenic road was unusable until the San Bernardino National Forest OHV Volunteers restored it perhaps a dozen years ago. When we arrived at the bottom near the Seven Oaks Resort, Marian and Neal left for Lytle Creek while the rest of us went back over Onyx Peak, down to Lucerne Valley and home.
Although it only rained slightly at the campground itself, being consistent and unchallenged, I retain the highly coveted title mentioned above in the byline.
Check out the photos!