Leaders: Joe Young, Patty Kline
Fourteen hikers met for brunch on Saturday morning at Maggie's Place, formerly known as Dodge Valley Restaurant, twenty-seven miles southeast of Temecula on Highway 79. After feasting on Maggie's delicious fixin's the group caravanned up the Chihuahua Valley Road, then turned onto the dirt road leading toward Combs Peak. The gate referred to in the peak guide was open and we were able to proceed to the Pacific Crest Trail crossing. The hike progressed without event as we followed the PCT to a saddle north of Combs, then ascended the fairly open ridge to the summit. After a brief stay on top we retraced our steps, encountering Frank Goodykoontz en route. Frank had just that morning picked up a brand new camper-van and this weekend's outing was its maiden voyage. The hike took about 2-1/2 hours round trip.
After returning to Maggie's we headed over to Oak Grove campground and selected sites, then returned to Maggie's for dinner. Many tried the Hungarian goulash (Maggie is Hungarian). Maggie treated us to cherry pie (courtesy of Geri Marsden) on the occasion of my imminent birthday. Despite having only herself and one other assistant, Maggie successfully provided excellent service and well prepared food in reasonable time. After a fun evening we all headed back to Oak Grove and camped. Temperatures that night were in the twenties.
Sunday morning we left the campground by 6:45, after enjoying a spectacular sunrise, and waited at the Hwy 371/Hwy 79 intersection for any additional arrivals. There were none. Following the standard peak guide directions we caravanned to Joe Powers Ranch and parked. We had lost three hikers but added one from the Combs hike, so the dozen of us started hiking at 8:05am. My scouting trip the previous weekend was helpful as I had found a reasonable approach (not too brushy) into the mountains. Following the standard guide we arrived at the earthen dam at 9:20, resting for ten minutes before leaving for Beauty. We arrived on the summit of Beauty at 10:25. Our descent over the fairly open ridge and short stretch of road took as long as the ascent and we were back at the dam at 11:35.
After another brief rest we struck out for Iron Springs at 11:45. We were able to find previously clipped openings through the brush, and a couple of us did some extensive clipping ourselves. However, there were few ducks and we did find ourselves occasionally thrashing through the brush. The group stayed together and we all arrived on the summit at about 1:15pm. We enjoyed a half hour on the cool summit and at 1:45 began our descent, reclipping as required. At 2:45 we arrived back at the dam, and at 3:00 left the dam for the last stretch of the descent to the cars, arriving at 4:00pm, with plenty of daylight remaining.
This was a very enjoyable weekend of hiking, fellowship, and merriment. The weather had cooperated nicely, with fair skies and moderately cool temperatures with little wind. Iron Springs lived up to its reputation, and Patty described the outing as "Combs, Beauty and the beast."