Nestled in the Southern California mountains of the San Gorgonio Wilderness, this short six mile trek provides you with the beauty and tranquility of the forest, solitude (during the winter only), as well as an awesome workout!
The trail starts off of Jenks Lake Road West of Highway 38 in Angelus Oaks. Make sure to carry cables/chains because the parking area is off a dirt road that may not be plowed. The actual trail is hard to find in the winter. Go past the trailhead signage about a 100 yds where the dirt road begins to steepen and veers to the right. You’ll see a sign for John’s Meadow if you’re on the right trail. Not many people venture out on this trail during the winter, so odds are you’ll be making fresh tracks!
Although I had my Delorme InReach, I enjoyed following animal tracks much of the way to camp. I followed deer, coyote, rabbit, and bear tracks, something that I would most likely not have seen during the summer months. I probably should’ve followed my map a little more as I did some steep sections and went through some shrubs, a little problematic with snowshoes! I cursed a few times or so! But hey, it’s the journey that matters, right?!! I think…
Right before camp is Forsee Creek. It’s basically the only water supply during the summer months. Crossing the creek is a little treacherous in snowshoes as there’s snow and ice covering the stream. I grabbed a handful of bushes and propped my poles on logs and rocks to cross. I probably should’ve taken off my snowshoes, but I was too darn lazy and confident I could make it across. Thankfully, I didn’t fall in! It wasn’t deep, but had freezing water with logs and rocks that would’ve been difficult to get out of. Plus, being wet in the winter is a sure path to hyperthermia. Needless to say, I made it safely across and patted myself on the back for my success!
Less than 1/4 mile more is the glorious John’s Meadow. Actually is not all that glorious, but very pretty, pristine, and you’re all alone, which makes it absolutely wonderful! You can camp pretty much anywhere that you can find relative flat ground and away from hazards. I was amazed at how much growth had happened since my last winter trek here. I couldn’t camp in my same spot, but did find an area close by. I stamped out a flat area with my snowshoes and made my condensation channels (as I have named them) for my tent. I erected my North Face Assault 2 4-season tent, and had my Rumchata, Vodka, Malibu Rum “Boat Drink” to celebrate setting up camp and enjoying my solitude.
The evening was amazing with it’s absence of wind, dry temperatures, and a waning crescent that allowed for brilliantly bright stars to be gazed upon. As always, I hit the hay shortly after eating and going through my normal nightly routine. I was pleasantly pleased that absolutely no condensation built up on the walls of my single-walled tent. WhooHoo! Life is good without darn condensation drips. Although I probably shouldn’t say this, but I do pride myself on having an iron bladder during the night! I will, at all costs, refrain from having to get my clothes and boots on in order to go out of the tent, into the darkness of the forest, to take a tinkle…After all, there might be ANIMALS out there! Haha! But alas, nature called, so I had to acquiesce to its request! That was the only negative to the entire night. The evening was just about perfect! 😉
I am not an early riser, as my family and friends well know, even though I do wake up early. I took my time getting up, performed my morning ritual of brushing teeth and making coffee. I’ve always bragged about my $35 MSR stove special from Big 5, until this time. It is a propane canister stove, and unbeknownst to me, freezes during cold temps. I took the same stove last time, but I cooked in the vestibule of the tent, so it was warmer, and I didn’t have any problems. Well, I had to shake it every so often to keep the flame going because the gas was freezing…Don’t mess with a woman and her coffee, let me tell you!
I broke camp and made my way back to the trailhead. The journey back was a lot easier because it was easier to follow the trail going back and I didn’t make so many arduous climbs or bushwacking through shrubs. Again, the weather blessed me with sunshine and no wind. I never saw a soul the entire trip, postholed, made fresh tracks, followed animals, and had a starlit evening. This is what life is about…Enjoying nature and getting in touch with your soul. Now it’s time for Mexican Food! Buena comida and well deserved!!!
Happy Trails! ~Solo Yolo
Directions to trailhead: Hwy 38 to Angelus Oaks. Turn right on Jenks Lake Rd West. After about 1/3 mile, turn right again and go a half mile to Forsee Creek Trailhead parking. A Forest Service Adventure Pass must be displayed. Use the San Gorgonio Wilderness/Big Bear Lake topo map for this area. Wilderness permits available through Mill Creek Ranger Station (909) 382-2882.