Today we look forward to hiking a 5.3 mile loop in the Santa Rosa Hills.
The second one shows all the trails which I then highlight with the classic loop that begins and ends at the Lichen Trailhead.
And off we go! Our bodies are slathered with sun screen and we carry water, trail mix, and the map. Easy peasey…
We head up the Lichen Trail, pass through the Oak Grove, and wind our way parallel to the park road until we descend to the left and cross the road.
The Black Sage Trailhead greets us.
We cross a slab of rocks and admire the view of Mt. San Gorgonio and the valley below.
Within minutes we cross a dirt road and take the curly Ribbonwood Trail.
Feeling confident and in our element, my husband Jeff and I decide we’d like to hike this trail once a week.
Following the map, we cross the dirt road again and connect to the Live Oak Trail. Life is good.
Yet again we cross the dirt road where the Live Oak Trail ends and the Canyon Trail begins. Mt. San Jacinto towers above.
Then Mt. San Gorgonio’s snowy peak appears.
And yes, that’s Mt. San Jacinto again.
We wind our way up the canyon following the mountain bike tracks.
The outcropping of rocks are a collector’s dream. Unfortunately the ones we like are too big to carry back with us.
We give names to some of the more predominant rocks. Jeff nicknames this one “the Blind Troll”, but the profile looks like a chick to me or some kind of bird. Jeff ignores the profile and focuses on the horizontal crack that reminds him of a mouth and the perpendicular line above is the nose. His Facebook friends see a manatee. What do you see?
Here’s the other side of the monster rock… not so cool…
After crossing the Fireman’s Loop, which we almost descend, we head up to the summit and the Hoodoo Lounge. Diamond Valley Lake and the East Dam lie below.
Look closely and you will see the American flag flying above. It looks like we are far away but perspectives are deceiving.
Quickly we ascend through the brush…
and arrive at Hoodoo Lounge which looks more like Cairn City.
There’s even a Christmas tree!
I take a picture of Diamond Valley Lake again from this viewpoint.
Then we ascend a short loop to reach the flag which turns out to be a veteran’s memorial to a local hero.
We are more than halfway through the 5.3 mile hiking loop. We still have lots of water. We are not tired. We are confident that we are only about 2 miles away from completing the loop. A piece of cake. And we have a map! The Crest Trail leads us back down to yet one more dirt road.
We’ve got this! I continue to capture my favorite scenes.
Below is the “Pink Pyramid Rock”, name courtesy of Laurel and Jeff Jernigan.
And who could resist taking a picture of this Manzanita Tree silhouetted against a deep blue sky?
Yet another scenic view of Diamond Valley Lake…
Ya gotta love the rocks!
The Crest Trail dumps us onto a dirt road again. Still good, according to the map…
We side step a gate on the dirt road and follow the Quail Trail which intersects the Ocotillo Trail.
We need to turn right onto the Buck Brush Trail, then right again onto the Lake View Trail, and finally a sharp left will lead us back to the Lichen Trailhead where we started.
But we keep hiking for what seems way too long. We never hook up with a sign for the Buck Brush Trail. We follow hikers’ footprints until we start blazing our own trail. We backtrack and find a trail that we hope will lead us to where we need to be. The longer we hike on this un-named path, the more confused we get.
We should have re-traced our steps back to the Ocotillo Trail but we are getting tired and thirsty and our water supply is down to warm dribbles. Going back feels like a dead end. Meanwhile, I am getting dizzy and hot and dehydrated and scared. So, somehow we keep plodding forward. Eventually we see a road below us and the trail starts descending down to it.
At this point I just want to get off the hilly trail. I am hopeful we can find help. Jeff and I decide hitchhiking is the best option.
We find ourselves on Gibbel Road in the middle of nowhere. Our cell phones are off the grid so we can’t call Uber or find the phone number to Diamond Valley RV Resort’s office. (My plan, at this point in my exhaustive state, is to call Mooshi, the manager, and ask her to contact any of our neighbors who just might come out and drive us to our car.) Calling 911 is our last resort. But I’m afraid they will evaluate me for dehydration and sun exhaustion. We just want a ride to our car… so close yet so far away!
Very few cars pass by going in the direction we need to go. Actually, only 3 cars go by. The first car has a Mom and child in a car seat. We withdraw our thumbs. The second car is a city utility truck and our thumbs are ignored. Finally, as I am ready to just lay down and take a nap on the side of the street, we flag down a driver who passes us by and then reverses his truck to find out what we need.
We quickly tell him our dilemma and without hesitating, he gladly drives us 9 miles out of his way to our car!
Thank you, Vito! He refuses money but Jeff presses a twenty dollar bill into his palm as we exit the cab of his truck.
After over 5 hours hiking uphill and downhill in the hot sun, we reach the safety of our little car and take turns gulping down the remaining bottle of water we left behind.
Later we realize that today is our anniversary… 22 years! For some reason we always forget that January 29th is the day we got married, even when we remind each other a few days before. So, now we can associate our classic lost adventure with Jeff Slepski’s Classic Loop Trail to January 29th and just maybe loopy Laurel and Jeff will remember our anniversary from now on.
But if memories don’t suffice, I just happen to have a souvenir from today. I pocketed this rock during one of our happier moments of this hike. And yes, it has a name… Anniversary Rock!