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Madulce Peak, Big Pine Mountain, West Big Pine, Samon Peak

29 April 1988

By: Dick Akawie

Leaders: Dick Akawie, Frank Goodykoontz

The prediction of rain for the first day of this three-day backpack did not hold up, and Friday turned out to be a beautiful day, with a clear sky and mild winds. The group of 25 (plus) who would be with us only until Saturday morning left the cars at 7:30AM. We had lunch at Chokecherry Spring, where the water conditions surprised us. The plumbing has deteriorated since I was there last, with only a dribble coming out of the pipe at the trough.

There was a very slight flow coming down the rocks also, so most of the water was obtained from the drain coming under the road (and treated or filtered) or from the top of the storage tank. We each added one gallon of water to our packs and hiked up the road to Madulce saddle, where the Madulce trail takes off. After setting up camp, the group hiked out to Madulce Peak. A count showed that ten of the 26 had been there before. We got back to camp by 6:30PM for dinner and then bed.

When it first got dark, the sky was still clear. But by 10:30PM the clouds were blowing over the saddle about 50 feet above the ground, and by midnight they were blowing through at ground level. I could just make out a tent about eight feet away.

Saturday, we were up at 6:30AM, with the temperature at 31°F. The clouds were still blowing through, but about 50 feet up again. As we hiked out toward Big Pine Mountain, the clouds disappeared, but the wind didn't. Big Pine was Fred Johnson's 100th Peak, and he was duly congratulated by all. Frank G. led us down to the road by a route that avoided most of the brush, and we walked out to West Big Pine for the great views. We found a spot out of the wind for lunch, and then started back. When we reached Big Pine Road below Big Pine Mtn, we were surprised by a large pick-up truck, which was towing out a trailer with an ATV which we had seen along the road earlier that morning. We continued back to Madulce saddle, and encountered a Forest Service truck which had come from the south. The rangers were very interested in our story of the other truck, and got its license number from Mickey Thayer. We were passed by a bicyclist who was peddling 92 miles from Santa Barbara to New Cuyama that day. We picked up our packs and walked down to Chokeberry Spring for our Saturday night camp. It was still blowing hard that night.

Sunday we were up at 6:00AM, temp 27°F, still windy. We went up the chute just north of the spring; one person, Betty Stirratt was hit on the thigh by a falling rock. From there we proceeded by way of the meadow and the ridge out to Samon Peak, clipping and clearing the trail as we went. We read the old entries in the register, including one that said you had to be crazy to climb Samon a second time. Then it was back to the chute, which we descended carefully in four small groups, with no casualties. After a late lunch in camp, we packed up and hiked (limped?) to the cars. On the way I convinced a motorcyclist to turn around and go back by threatening to report him if he didn't do so. It was a successful trip, with everyone in the group hiking 46 miles, over 9800 feet of gain, and climbing all four peaks.

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