Reply To: Trip Report – Mill Creek Jumpoff to Pi Peak to Dragons Head Peak to SG Summit.

Home Forums Trail Conditions Trip Report – Mill Creek Jumpoff to Pi Peak to Dragons Head Peak to SG Summit. Reply To: Trip Report – Mill Creek Jumpoff to Pi Peak to Dragons Head Peak to SG Summit.


Well hbandrew . . . You inpired us. And I write this to maybe inspire someone else looking for a great day of adventure.  And honestly, I write to brag about my 14-year-old son, who is a beast and just an outstanding partner in the mountains.

My son, while looking for a good adventure for us, recently found your post describing your cross-country ascent up SG. Our last adventure, for Father’s Day, was to leave Lodgepole just after 2:00 a.m. and hit SG for the sunrise. Then we descended to hit Dragons Head and Bighorn, followed by a well earned nap around 10:00 a.m. in the middle of the Tarn.  My son was enamored of the whole Tarn area and everything he could see to the south and east from Bighorn and Dragons Head. The only thing that bummed him out was he didn’t see any bighorns.

Two years ago we had done Millcreek Jumpoff to Galena Peak and monkeyed down the Yucaipa Ridge for a couple hours. (I might have been a slightly irresponsible dad taking a twelve year old up there, but I did make him wear a helmet!) He’s been curious since then about what is on the other side of the Jumpoff. And so have I.

When I asked him where he wanted to go for our hike on 7/25, he started exploring online and found your 2017 post describing the 100% off-trail hike to the summit of SG. That was it. So Saturday morning at 7:00 a.m., we set off to do just that.

We had your description in mind, and I think we followed your route pretty well, except for what ended up as our actual ascent of Pi Peak. The waterfall area along the SF Whitewater was as you described. It was beautiful but super difficult to negotiate–cliffed out, brush-choked, and crazy loose side-hilling. At first, we kept trying to just go up and around each waterfall individually so that we could see each one, as it is such a pretty area. This proved futile. So we decided we would just start up. This was the most difficult part of the day. It was very steep and loose, and impossible to get a view of anything but the cliff bands and walls of impenetrable brush above us. We just kept moving through any cracks we could find. Ultimately after much scrambling, we succeeded only in making it right back to the creek, above the waterfalls and where there is a split in the drainage–one fork continuing up between Dragons Head and the Vivian Creek trail, the other up Pi. We stopped and had lunch there, but not for long because we had burned a lot of daylight (and we had given Mom 9:00 p.m. as her worry point–i.e., don’t think about calling the Calvary unless you haven’t heard from us by then).

The drainage up Pi was steep and choked with boulders and brush. The sides were too steep and loose to escape the drainage and make a clean ascent. From below we could not get a clear sense if we could make it up the drainage. But at that point turning back was not an option, and we just resolved to find a way. It was slow going, but we again managed to find some narrow way through every time it looked like we would be denied.

Finally, things started to flatten out as we approached, what looked from below, the saddle between Pi and Dragons Head. It is an absolutely beautiful area. At that point my son goes “Dad look a deer!” My response: “that’s not a deer dude.” It was a female bighorn. My son’s day was made. We both felt a new burst of energy and spring in our step. We were pretty tired.

We came to the saddle and looked over. This is an amazing place. Look over the edge toward Bighorn, and hold on to your lunch–what a drop! We went back to Pi, just because, and then ascended from the saddle up to Dragons Head, and finally up to the summit of SG, crossing the Skyhigh Trail for our fully off-trail ascent.

We arrived at SG about 5:00 p.m. Then we trucked it out down the trail, conscious off our 9:00 p.m. deadline–got a few funny looks from people passing a kid on the trail with a skateboard helmet swinging from his pack. We made it back to the car about 8:30 p.m.

Two exhausted but happy hikers.

Thanks hbandrew for the inspiration!




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