Like the Mt. Whitney gear list (http://lastadventurer.com/last-adventurers-fieldnotes/2012/5/24/gear-list-for-a-single-day-ascent-of-the-mt-whitney-trail-sp.html) here’s my list of gear that I took up the Vivian Creek Trail last Saturday. (June 16, 2012). As always, this is a list of suggestions – not a list of mandatory items (unless we are talking food and water) – and the best gear for a summit bid is the gear that works best for you. Having said that, as it is now warm to hot in the San Gorgonio wilderness, you don’t need to carry much if you are heading out for a one-day summit bid, as any extra weight is likely to tire you out, and potentially decrease your chance of attaining the summit safely.
Mandatory (Meaning, I had to have it for the climb in June of 2012, and you should probably have it too):
1. Daypack: As noted in my Whitney list above, I run an Arc’teryx daypack; it’s a few years old so I don’t know the model number, but it’s never let me down. If I was looking to drop a few ounces to pound, I probably could find a smaller model, but as it’s comfortable and works for me, I use it all the time.
2. Water: Despite there being a small disagreement about how long the trail is roundtrip, the one thing that everyone agrees on is that it’s over sixteen (16) miles roundtrip. When you add in the fact that it does get quite warm at the lower elevations; that San Gorgonio is quite dry this time of year; and that the altitude also dehydrates you even when you are sitting still, water should be your primary concern, and primary weight. I took 3.5 liters; which, when you think about it, isn’t that unreasonable. I was on the trail for a little over eight hours; and during that time I was exposed to high winds (which aid dehydration); high temperatures; and was engaging in strenuous physical activity. In all honesty, I probably could have taken an additional half-liter just because (not that I needed it). Obviously, everyone has to judge their conditioning and body accordingly, but as it is dry, and there is not a lot of water/snow up there at the moment, be sure you are prepared with plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
3. Food: Personal preference here. It’s a day hike, so you can carry more if you want. I went fast and light with a few Clif Bars.
4. Jacket/Fleece: I know that most people will look at this item and think I’m crazy, because at the base elevation of Vivian Creek, the temperatures regularly reach 90+ during this time of year. But. Buttttttt. On Saturday, starting at slightly below treeline and to the summit, there were winds of 20-30mph. Steady, hard, blowing winds. Sure, it may be 90 at Vivian Creek, but when you get up to 11,000 feet, it will be approximately 60 degrees under calm conditions. When you add in a steady, 20-30mph wind at 11,000 feet? It suddenly is a lot colder. It’s potentially hypothermia cold. Now: will these winds be there every day? No, of course not. But, this is an item you will want to consider to be prepared for wind or sudden thunderstorms. Obviously, a review of the weather the day of your hike is the best resource; but it’s always good to be prepared for contingencies.
5. Ten Essentials: Always a good thing to have. Personal first aid kit; emergency blanket; matches/lighter; compass/map/GPS; water; emergency food; whistle; water filtration system (could just be iodine pills); signal mirror; and knife/multitool among other things.
6. Clothes (to wear): I wore a pair of shorts, a wicking T-Shirt, and had my brimmed hat/bandanna. I also had a fleece jacket that I put on for the wind. Foot-wise, I went with my mountaineering boots because I prefer their comfort and stability, but if you’re looking to cut weight, you can definitely make this hike in sneakers.
Optional Gear (You might want it; then again, you might want to save the weight).
1. Trekking Poles; 2. Camera; 3. Extra Clothes; 4. Other Items that you may want to use on the hike.
If I was to guess, my pack weighed no more than ten to at the max, fifteen pounds – with 6.5 of that amount being water weight. For summertime, this is the range you would want to be in, unless you are carrying gear for an overnight trip, or for other people! See you on the trail!