I haven't been to the San G Wilderness in quite a while, mainly because of the annoying permit process that I can't be bothered with. With the abeyance of the permit for the time being, I felt much more comfortable being impromptu and driving out for a day. I arrived at the Vivian Creek TH at 7:45 and made quick work of the switchbacks up to the delightful hanging valley. I am still amazed at the dramatic changeover from dry scrub oak to lush forest. From here I ascended the slope to Dobbs West Ridge. I made the ascent a little further along the trail then most, at the point where the trail crosses the creek. This route is steep and sandy with a little bit of oak to get through but otherwise is pretty straightforward. It also tops out at a prominent point which is a great landmark for descent. From here you have climbed about 2,000 feet of elevation with another 2,300 to go to Dobbs. The ridge starts off in 300 foot steps but then you get a long painful 1,200 steep ridge to the summit plateau. The last time I did this I remember I struggled with this section and sure enough this time it happened again. I made it to the summit in just under three hours which was a 15 minute improvement on my last time doing this route over 10 years ago. Dobbs is a pretty lame point on a flat section of a half mile ridge. Little Dobbs AKA East while another point at least has better views. It has a grand register from 1977 and an EisPiraten sticker on it to boot.
From here you have the slog up to the trail and another couple hundred feet gain from there to Jepson. Jepson has a much more dramatic vantage point then San G. With its peak sticking out into the middle of a nice drop into the basin. It definitely feels very Sierra peak-like. I descended the east ridge until it reconnected with the trail and from there made it to a not too busy San G. summit. I had been hiking just under 5 hours at this point and I took a leisurely stop at the top. There was a slight wind but still was manageable as t-shirt weather.
From there I took the long trail back. The switchbacks on this trail are evil and if I had more energy I would've just gone straight down the slope and saved a lot of time to High Camp. I'm sure a similar opportunity avails itself as you enter the Vivian Creek drainage. I forgot how delightful this canyon was and how beautiful it is. With the removal of permits hiking to Halfway Camp is an excellent moderate hike and I did notice a couple of parties that had done hikes of that length. I finally hit the real switchbacks that actually make sense and dropped back into Mill Creek where many daytripping families were enjoying the slight trickle of water and picnicking out in force. The amount of dedication to picnicking has surpassed my level of sophistication by a significant margin.
The whole hike was around 14-15 miles with just about 5,800 feet elevation gain in just over 8 hours. A nice fun long day in an area that I'm sure I'll hit up again soon with the rules change.