San Rafael Mountain, McKinley Mountain, Santa Cruz Peak
28 April 1990
By: Patty Kline
Leaders: Frank Goodykoontz, Patty Kline
The weather was pretty much made to order for this weekend backpack of the "Big 3" in Santa Barbara County. Ten of us met at 7:30 am at the Cachuma Saddle Ranger Station.
The 7-1/2 miles of graded dirt road to our campsite at Cold Spring was over before lunch. Bob Baldwin had missed us at the roadhead, so he hiked very fast and caught up to us about 1/3 of the way up. It was very hot going up that last grade before lunch to our luxurious campsite complete with bulldozed flat area and picnic table. Cold Spring campground is at 5,600 feet.
We left around 1 pm for San Rafael (6593 feet). From our approach off the trail the peak seemed insignificant, but the view was expansive and breath taking. We did McKinley (6200 feet) on the return and were back in camp well ahead of happy hour. This afternoon's excursion was 7 miles round trip.
A lot of tasty munchies, including peanut butter stuffed pretzels from Trader Joe's were for happy hour. My Tequila mixed well with Gatorade. There were a lot of other nice beverages.
The next day we started off at 6:15 am because we didn't want to get stuck on that uphill coming back from Santa Cruz (5570 feet). We didn't. There was a lot of thick brush on the top of the peak, but Frank skillfully took us through the least brushy part to the bouldery summit where our view was somewhat obscured by the bushes growing around the boulders. Again we had lunch back in camp after doing 11 miles that morning.
Everyone was packed and ready to go by about 1 pm. The fast group was back at the cars by 3:30 pm, and the slow group wasn't really slow. We all felt like we'd done something that weekend - 33 miles and 6840 feet of gain.
It was a very enjoyable weekend for everyone. I'm sure we all had a great time. Those participants not already mentioned in the write up were Karl Kraves, Charlie Knapke, Bob Beach, Asher Waxman, Mike Kelley, Hoda Shalaby and Evan Samuels.