September 2013
« Aug   Oct »

San Gorgonio - On Target

This weekend was the September Operation On Target for the Boy Scouts. Operation On Target, if you did not click on the link, is where scouts flash mirrors from peak to peak and communicate with HAM radios. Here is Southern California, we do it every third weekend in July and September.Yet again, we were going to the top of Mt. San Gorgonio sans any Boy Scouts.

I arrived at the Fish Creek trail-head at just after three yesterday. It was a nice afternoon and it was a lot clearer up the hill and out of the valley. The sky was blue rather than a hazy grey. Once on the trail I made fairly good time. The trail crossing at Fish Creek looked as if it had more water in it than in July. Then again, after driving on the road to the Fish Creek Trail-head, which was in the worst condition that I have seen in several years, it was apparent that the area received some moisture in the recent thunderstorms.

Fish Creek

Fish Creek

Of course a little extra moisture never hurt the plant life. There were a few places that wildflowers were showing their color along the trail. Some yellow, red and purple.

Indian Paintbrush

Indian Paintbrush

Once I arrived at Fish Creek Saddle I chose the location of home for the night. It was forcast to be windy so the site with the best shelter from the wind was chosen. However, there are not may places on a saddle that one can hide from the wind.


I got something to eat and wandered around area. I came across something and could not determine if it was some type of game played by people or a message left by the animals.

EDIT – Mystery solved – The game is 9 Mens Morris. Who was playing it is still a mystery . . .


Then night became extremely windy. Oh I hate the wind when it is really blowing hard. I do not sleep well. Add that to a 98 percent waning moon that was out all night and it allows one to see how bad the tent is moving around in the wind. The morning came soon enough. As the sun was rising in the east, the moon was still up in the west.


The trip to the top went fairly well. Being in the Sierras a couple of weeks ago and all the walking I have been doing has put me in better physical shape. I took my usual photo of Dragons Head as I want to climb it some day.

Dragons Head

Dragons Head

We arrived at our usual place for Operation On Target at 9:45. The wind was howling. We were able to get mirror flashes from Mt. San Jacinto, Palomar Mountain and Washington’s Monument just west of San Bernardino peak. I did get a picture of a flash from Mt. San Jacinto.


I was also able to get a little video of some flashes from Washington’s Monument. To see the flashes, you need to pay a lot of attention to the location of Washington’s Monument. There are three flashes in the first few seconds of the video.

EDIT – However, before the video I have a picture extracted that was from the video by a friend.

First Flash annotated

As you can tell, it was really windy on top. The air was cold as well. We finished up and hiked back to Fish Creek Saddle. From there, we packed our backpacks up and headed down the trail. As is usual, we had people asking for directions. One person in particular was broken off from his group and was not sure of where he was. We passed him just after Mine Shaft Saddle and he asked, “Is this the trail to Fish Creek?” When we were at Fish Creek Saddle packing up, he wandered over to where we were asking where the trail was to Fish Creek. On the way down the Fish Creek Trail, we passed him again. This time he knew he was on the Fish Creek trail.

We made it to the trail-head timely and were on our way. It was another great weekend in the San Gorgonio Mountains.

related post

3 comments to San Gorgonio – On Target

  • Bill Leach

    What did you do for water on this trip?

  • Brought 6.5 liters of water in from home. In the summer I may bring 7 or 8 liters if it is really hot weather. The other option is to carry less, hike the mile down to Lodgepole Springs, filter water, and hike the mile back uphill with the water. Which will take more time, carrying the extra weight from the trail-head or going on a trip to get more water? It may be about the same.

  • Tavishboo

    Nice Report. I volunteer at Mil Creek. It is so nice to read of adventures like yours in “my” wilderness!
    Your picture of the Dragon’s head is just about the best one I have seen. Hope to read more of your adventures! Well Done!