5 Suggestions for Camping and Hiking with our Dogs in San Gorgonio

This past weekend was Memorial Day Weekend 2014.  The group of us decided to camp for 3 nights and hike with our dogs in the San Gorgonio Wilderness area. There were about 8 of us, with 12 dogs among us total.

We arrived on Friday night, around 9pm. If you've never pitched a tent at night, you're missing out on one of camping's big adventures. It's like painting blindfolded and only using your thumbs. You really need a sense of humor and a couple of good friends that are willing to stand there and hold things up. Thank goodness for headlamps and battery operated lanterns.

5 Suggestions for Camping with your Dogs:

1. Bring warm clothes for your first night.
I don't know about you, but for me, the first night sleeping in a tent is always the roughest. I freeze.  I always underestimate the amount of sweatshirts I need. Or how many pairs of socks I need to wear. Or the TYPE of socks I need to wear to remain warm.  Even though I have a sleeping bag rated to 25º F and two live bodies at 103º, I still freeze.

2. How about an extra sleeping bag?
If your dog is short-haired, like mine, you might need an extra sleeping bag.  I don't have room on my air mattress, so an extra sleeping bag that the dogs can sleep in works well to keep them warm. I use a double-think dog bed as their base, then lay half the sleeping bag on top of the bed. When they lay down, I cover them with the other half.

3. Keep your dog crated or leashed while on the campground.
While we did have our dog on leash and some were crated, we did have a mishap when one of the owners,
so into the UNO game, accidentally dropped her leash. Her little dog wandered onto a neighboring group's site.  While she was only gone for about 5 minutes, about 10 minutes after Patches' return, a local ranger came by reminding us that dogs need to be restrained. He checked out each of our dogs (they were all in crates or on leash) and informed us that one of our neighbors had complained.  Well, you never know if your neighbors are dog-friendly, so whether they are or aren't, a leash is always a good idea.

4. Always have an alternate short hike suggestions.
We had wanted to do a 10-miler on Sunday.  On Saturday morning, we accidentally tired ourselves out during a 6-miler. We had initially planned for only a 3 or 4 mile hike, we wound up following Fish Creek and did about 5 to 6 miles.  Though we did not exhaust ourselves, we didn't exactly feel up to a 10 mile hike the next day.  Not to mention, the trail we planned was the 2nd most popular in the San Gorgonio region. We talked about it. Some of us opted for a 2 miler, while the rest of us opted for a 6-miler to John's Meadow.  This was a more secluded hike. It was single-track and somewhat shaded.  Additionally, it was up and down, rather than all uphill one-way.  It was a better suggestion.

5. Invest in earplugs
The night we got there, there was a neighboring group that had myself and another camper in my group, up until 4am. YES, you might run into this.  At 2am, Leanne and I both emerged from our tents.  I told her that I was going to the camp host.  She said she was going straight to the source.  She had decided to take matters into her own hands. These folks were playing music so loud, I am surprised that more people didn't complain.  At 2am, after Leanne had her say, they turn the music off, but the conversations were still very loud, in the quietness of the alpine countryside. They finally all went to sleep at 4am.

The next morning, Maribeth woke up and I asked her how she slept through the whole thing.  She mentioned that she had earplugs. Earplugs are now on my camping "must-have" list.  You will still be able to hear, somewhat, but your sleep won't be interrupted by echoes of people's conversations happening 3 sites over from yours.

Our Hike

So we hiked to John's Meadow, which is an alpine meadow just past Foresee Creek in the San Gorgonio Wilderness.  This is a fantastic hike with world-class views.  It is a single-track trail, that is maintained on a limited basis. I would classify this trail as Intermediate, since it is a elevation. There are a lot of up's and down's, so it is not just uphill.

The hike starts out in the San Bernardino National Forest. You should display your Adventure Pass when you park.  To get to the parking, you will need to drive on a dirt road for about 1/3 mile. Right now, this can be accomplished in a regular passenger vehicle.  Though with all the potholes, I am not sure how long this would last.  Maybe through the next 2 rainy seasons?  Check the San Bernardino National Forest for up to date information.

The initial 1/3 mile is a steep incline. After that it levels out. There are some steeper inclines and some scrambling over rocks and fallen trees (thus the "less-maintained" description) but overall this trail is easy to navigate. Be sure not to pass John's Meadow.  It is an Alpine meadow, with manzanita and pine trees.  There is a sign marking the area, but it is not too big.  If you go further, the trail becomes even harder to follow, as the following trail to the peak of San Bernardino is not maintained at all.

Check out our pics: