Leaders: Lou Brecheen, Ron Jones
The US Forest Service has placed bars across both the access gates for Sheephead Mtn and Cuyapaipe Mtn. This results in additional hiking distance of 3 miles for Sheephead and 3.4 miles for Cuyapaipe. This is in no way prohibitive. In fact, our group seemed to enjoy the hikes all the more for the added challenge. The Ranger at Mt Laguna stated that these are temporary closures and the roads will be reopened in late Spring.
Eight hikers met at the Paso Picacho CG entrance at 9:30 AM on Saturday. We drove a half mile north to the paved peak parking and left half the cars then took the rest further north to the Milk Ranch Road junction by the Boy Scout camp. We hiked leisurely a quarter mile up the road to where Middle Peak Fire Road branches to the right. We took Middle Peak Fire Road to the loop trail just beneath Middle Peak, keeping to the left at the junction of Pine Valley Fire Road. Everyone signed in on Middle Peak's wooded summit. The loop trail took us south to 5 Points where we paused for lunch and where we lost Bob Hartunian. Bob is recuperating from a foot operation and is slowly getting back into the swing. He took the Milk Ranch Road directly back to the cars. It was up the switchbacks, across the icy patches of snow and through the mud along the ridge to Cuyamaca Pk on the Conejos trail for the remaining seven of us. The last 1/4 mile up the paved fire road is very steep and was icy at the time. "They" have constructed a microwave tower atop the peak. The views are inspirational from there.
Stonewall Peak had been mentioned as possible lagniappe and everyone wanted it so we followed the fire road back to Paso Picacho campground, right on across the highway and up the heavily trodden pathway to the top of the peak. We cut off the trail on the return journey and went cross-country to the paved parking where our cars awaited. Saturdays participants were in addition to the leaders: Leora Jones, Don Borad, Patty Kline, George Schroedter, Bob Hartunian, and Pete Doggett.
We caravanned back along Hwy 79 to the Sunrise Hwy (S-1) and turned SE and drove to Foster Lodge (San Diego Chapter, Sierra Club lodge). The driveway leading to the lodge is directly across the highway from the Laguna Campground. The lodge is open to all Sierra Club members on weekends and the fee for members is $3 per night. If you would like to stay there on some future trip call Ruth Park, Scheduler 619/544-9138 if you have 20 or more. If fewer than 20, just show up. We were joined there by David Eisenberg, Lew Amack, Jack Haddad, Wayne Norman and Dorothy Pallas for an evening of good Italian food (Lasagna, Spaghetti, Linguini, Chianti & Smoked Eel), Robert Service and Robert Frost poetry and warm companionship in comfort around a pot-bellied stove. The 19° temperatures outside were totally ignored.
Sunday morning saw a bright, sunshiny beginning to a perfect hiking day. We drove 5.7 miles south to the locked gate at the Kitchen Valley Road. It was a nice hike in to the spot where we normally park and all 13 of us took the sharp right hand turn onto the jeep road which curves west and becomes a gully before we arrived at the new fence which has been constructed to protect the tiny corner of private property. We simply followed around the fence to the old Kitchen Valley road and kept on to the little streambed leading to Sheephead Mtn. All 13 signed in before an uneventful return to the cars and lunch...
We climbed Cuyapaipe via the peak guide, but we returned via the guide published by Charlie Knapke in the March/April, 1990 Lookout. We all agreed that Mountain Records should be instructed to change the Guide to reflect Charlie"s writeup. Thanks to all who took part in the hikes, the Italian cooks, and Ron Jones for an excellent assist.