|Leader: Ed Ostrenga|
As the schedule write-up suggested, "Those arriving early Sat. or Fri. evening may explore the route to Hildreth Pk. early Sat." The leader, Ed Ostrenga, two others plus late-late arriving How Bailey (1:30 AM, Just in from New York) set out for Hildreth. One might expect that the fire that burned all the way to Hildreth last year would leave the area in depressing condition, but quite the contrary; the hills were green with grass and colored with profusion of wildflowers, a greater variety seldom seen. There were a few spots that were fire had jumped, indicating how difficult the climb might be with brush all the way. At the summit we could see the heroic work that the fire fighting crew must have done to finally bring the fire to a halt. They must have cleared an immense fire break. On the return trip we decided to take one of the firebreaks. All were fine until some time after we left the firebreak, we were in a streambed and the stream took a 25 ft. fall straight down! Nothing to do but climb the wall and find another way out! A pleasant surprise awaited the hikers on the way out. The forest service had provided a small concrete pool with about 4' of natural spring-fed hot water which we soot-covered, foot-sore hikers welcomed.
By this time, 14 others had reached our rendezvous at Juncal campground. The fire had burned through the oaks of the campground, but they are exhibiting an amazing tenacity to live. The hike up hill and over vale and around Jamison Lake was pleasant and fast. After reaching the Murietta saddle the route became steep, and the stroll became a real climb. The hot sun took its toll. Out of 18 starters, 10 dropped out. Six climbed Old Man, 5 made Monte Arido, and only 3 made both - Dave McGlone, Tom Amneus, and the indefatigable Howe Bailey (who hiked an extra 2 miles to fetch his knapsack). All agreed there must be an easier way to reach these peaks.