Leaders: Ray Riley, Ron Webster
We led 28 enthusiastic, yet well mannered hikers to the summit of "Big Iron" on the 1988 version of our perennial stroll from Heaton Flat. Gross gain from Heaton Flat to the summit and return is placed variously between 6300 feet and 7000 feet, depending primarily, I suppose, on how many off-route adventures are attempted and how ably the split breaks are managed. With experience, I believe we're improving on both accounts, as this hike seems to be getting easier with the passing years.
We met first at Azusa at 6:00AM, collected our mutual resolve, caravanned to Heaton Flat, and began to attack the level section of the road leading from the Flat to the trailhead about 6:45AM, attempting our first off-route variation about five minutes later. Nonplussed nevertheless, we recovered the trail with aplomb and led onward and upward in refreshingly crisp weather to Allison Saddle, arriving in plenty of time to rest awhile. Soon sensing an uncertain restlessness in the group, Ron assumed the lead, setting a straightforward and vigorous pace from the saddle to the summit, reaching the summit shortly before noon in emerging warm sunlight. The trail sweep straggled in about a half-hour later.
At length, having lethargically lunched and lazed on the summit until a new sense of easy restlessness began to rise within the group, they lithely lofted their lightened loads and left. Ray led a flawless descent to Allison Saddle, where a few eager hikers were acquiescently signed out, as the group was now beginning to stretch out significantly. After a brief respite, we continued on, descending to the firebreak saddle above the Flat for final sign-outs. Last in at Heaton Flat arrived, in good spirit, about 5:30PM.