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San Rafael Mountain, Santa Cruz Peak, McKinley Mountain

3-4 February 1968

By: Norm Rohn

Leader: Norm Rohn
Asst.: Bob Herlihy

The weather gods smiled on the group of 21 Hundred Peakers and guests who spent the weekend of February 3rd and 4th on Mission Pine Ridge at the edge of the San Rafael Wilderness Area in Santa Barbara County. About twenty of the group bagged McKinley and sixteen San Rafael on Saturday after hiking into Cold Spring from Cachuma Saddle. Water was adequate and beds aplenty in the scrub oak brush or out in the open snow. For awhile a low cloud bank rolled in from Cuyama Valley over Sierra Madre Ridge and McPherson Peak but by morning the skies were clear again. Fourteen made the descent and subsequent climb to Santa Cruz on Sunday. The last 200 yards was a little brushy but otherwise that excursion was all road and firebreak.

The entire trip is high and affords views in many directions: Santa Ynez Mountain, Cachuma Lake, the ocean and Channel Islands to the south; Figueroa Mountain, the Vandenberg Air Force Base area and the ocean near Pismo Beach to the west; the Manzana, Hurricane Deck and the Sisquoc to the north; and Mission Pine Basin, Big Pine, and Mt. Pinos to the east. Twenty to thirty of the listed "Hundred Peaks" are visible at various times during the hike. Some of the group took a short side trip from San Rafael down toward Mission Pine Camp and were rewarded with a fairyland-like hike through a snow-filled rocky basin, past running streams and among majestic pines, spruces and cedars. This is a particularly appealing back-packing area. Deer, bear and coyote sign was abundant during the trip although the deer only were seen. A final reward for the observing was the sight of five condors wheeling high overhead as the party was returning from Santa Cruz Peak.

Although climbing these three peaks on a two-day week-end was somewhat strenuous, the usual plan allows participants to readily omit parts of the hike and thereby suit its difficulty to their capabilities.

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