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San Gabriel Peak

11 December 1988

By: Bill T. Russell


Leaders: Duane McRuer, Dick Akawie, Bill T. Russell

The John Backus Memorial Climb was to San Gabriel Peak. John loved the Southern California mountains and San Gabriel was one of his favorites; he could see it from his bedroom window. He climbed it alone and for the fourteenth time in May 1988.

We met at the La Cañada meeting place before 9:30AM for car pooling and drove to the large parking area about 3/10 mile east of Red Box. This area is the start of a fine new trail built by the JPL trail builders that goes to a large, flat saddle between San Gabriel Peak and Disappointment Peak (1000 feet of gain, 1 1/5 miles). Most of the particpants hiked this trail.

There is also a paved road behind a locked gate that goes from the parking area to the saddle. We obtained permission from the District Ranger to drive ten cars to the saddle. They carried food, etc. for the reception and some participants. The group then ascended the peak by the good trail (400 feet of gain, 2/5 mile) from the saddle to the summit where we had a memorial service consisting of remarks about John by Duane McRuer, Dick Akawie, Micky Thayer, Patty Kline, Linda Backus and Bill T. Russell. We invested San Gabriel Peak with the spirit of John Backus and later, Linda Backus left his ashes nearby. We left a Memorial Register on the peak that had the signatures of 182 of John's friends who were present.

We returned to the saddle and had a joyful reception in accord with a wish that John expressed to his family. At the reception, we learned that Frank Goodykoontz, who made many climbs with John, completed The List for the fourth time the day before on Indian Peak.

After the reception we returned to the parking area to end the memorial climb. Many people then drove to Buckhorn where Dick Akawie led the climb to complete The List for the sixth time.

Many thanks to the many people who helped with this event, especially Charlie Jones for a key, Micky Thayer for the reception, Mike Sandford for the postcards, Pat Russell for the car shuttle, Duane McRuer and Dick Akawie for leading and the speakers at the memorial service. It was beautiful, clear, warm, calm day, one suited for the life completion celebration of our true friend, John Backus.

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