Distance: 12.7 miles round trip on trail and cross country
Summit Elevation: 7761' (East Twin), 7596' (West Twin), 8038' (Waterman)
Prominence: 1241' (East Twin), 236' (West Twin), 1438' (Waterman)
Elevation Gain: 3877'
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 3.10
Round trip time: 7 hours 10 minutes
Recommended water: 128 oz.
Parking/Fees: Adventure Pass
Twin Peaks and Waterman are remote areas of the San Gabriel mountains, and I was long intrigued by their rough reputation. Sean Green and I had been talking about doing a hike and we agreed on this one, even though he had done them before, saying that his friend Willie Price was also interested. The early winter had been warm and dry, so I expected minimal snow for this time of year, and was amped to do this hike.
We planned to meet at 9:45 AM at Buckhorn. Before tackling the big hike, I wanted to climb nearby Winston Peak as a warm up. I was up and down Winston Peak in 35 minutes. It was a balmy 48F at the trailhead and would stay warm most of the day. I started with 3 layers and quickly dropped to 2. Sean rocked 1 layer, sandals and no socks. We started up the Waterman Trail and descended to the Twin Peaks Saddle. Heading up steeply toward Twin Peaks East, Sean and Willie started pulling away from me. I'd like to blame it on my overstuffed pack, having done Winston Peak first, or my age, but none of that mattered. They were simply stronger hikers. I caught up with them on Twin Peaks East summit, where we signed the register and went down the other side a little for a view of Triplet Rocks.
We left Twin Peaks East and followed a pretty good use trail toward West. We stopped a couple of times for Willie and Sean to climb some boulder routes. During the boulder breaks, I saved my energy for the summit blocks and rest of the hike. The West summit block was the hardest to climb, but still probably didn't reach class 3. We signed the West register and spent some time taking in the best views of the day. Instead of ascending Twin Peaks East to get back to the use trail, we went cross country back to the saddle, stopping for the toughest boulder climb of the day. There were a couple of sketchy moments as Sean and Willie navigated a boulder with a thin ledge up an exposed route.
Back at Twin Peaks Saddle, we began the tedious climb up Waterman. We were all running low on water, but I had just enough to make it back to the car. Sean and Willie filled up at the one running stream coming down Waterman. They pulled ahead of me again on this stretch and I would catch up with them on the Waterman summit. When I hit the Waterman summit junction, shadows were creeping into the forest, the wind was picking up, and it was getting colder. I went back to 3 layers and put on my gloves. On the Waterman summit, I added some ear protection. I was only on the summit long enough to grab a few photos and the benchmark on the class 2 summit block. We all were ready to get out of the wind and down quickly, so we decided to skip the trail and head down the main gully, finding a few patches of snow. Before long, we hit an unexpected trail that ran along the gully and eventually hit one of the Waterman ski slopes. We descended that and found a fire road that intersected the main trail near the bottom. It was a fun day that quenched my adventure craving for the week, if not longer.