Leader: How Bailey|
Asst.: Bob Hawthorne
Five stubborn characters met Saturday morning at the Reyes Ranch in Cuyama Valley in order to tackle the Samon ridge. As predicted, no ride was offered or for sale, so we started hiking with around 2 gallons of water apiece. However, after a couple of miles a ranger came by in his truck and carried our packs up hte road 7 miles for us - quite a break. We camped at a wide place in the road about 14 miles from the locked gate.
Next morning we started off with high hopes, having met a man the previous morning who said he had gotten to the peak in 3 hours just last year. Well, to make a very long story short, it took us 5 hours to get there and 5 more to get back. This is positively the worst bushwhack I have seen; and it is too bad, too, because the rest of the area is so beautiful around there. The major features of the route are obvious, but the details are complete controlled by the brush. You think nothing of losing 50 feet to get a relatively clear route, but even this doesn't help very often. The final rise, after going over 4 intermediate "bumps" on the ridge, was a class 2 scramble - and what a relief and joy it was. But then you had to go back over the whole thing again! Half a mile an hour was our speed, tho' it felt like five. However, every one of the group took turns leading, and Bob Hawthorne kept us all in a good humor. We came out down a long steep gully just a few yards north of Chokecherry Spring, and we would recommend this as the entry point for any nut foolish enough to try this peak again. We found the spring running, so we drank and washed off and completely transformed our spirits in ten minutes of sheer revelry. That evening after supper we carried our packs almost 3 miles and 1000 feet up the road to the saddle on the Samon-Madulce ridge for a beautiful but frosty campsite.
Next day Bob and Dave McGlone went on to Big Pine and West Pine, undoubtedly getting Madulce as well, but taking an extra day to get out. Fred Bode, Larry Machelder and I took the trail down to Madulce Guard Station where we found lots of water and Harry and Siina Melts. They had camped there 2 nights, doing the 3 "normal" peaks in one 22-mile day in between. We came out the Santa Barbara Canyon trail together. This is far pleasanter than the road, and highly recommended to all the future hikers we hope will come to enjoy this area - for it is gorgeous unspoiled country if you just forget about Samon.