Leaders: Charlie Knapke, Frank Goodykoontz
This trip was originally scheduled to include Tehachapi & Double Mountains. After the 'March Miracle', I decided to scout the Tehachapi Mountain area for snow conditions. There was no way I could safely lead a group up the northern ridge of Tehachapi.
After discussing the situation with Frank we decided to substitute Black #6 and Red for Tehachapi & Double. I had recently been on a trip to Black #6 where we had stumbled across a plaque to Stephen Schmidt.
Friday I drove up to Red Mountain and scouted out a pathfinder route for use on Saturday. The next morning I went into Randsburg early for breakfast at the White House Saloon. I learned from the waitress that Toni Seger who owned the Schmidt Tunnel might have an explanation for the plaque on Black #6.
I then led our group of eleven hikers up to Red Mountain from the northwest. This route is actually easier than the route in the peak guide. After having lunch back at the cars we headed into Randsburg to explore the shops in the town. We took this opportunity to purchase some party supplies.
We then headed out to Black #6. We hiked up past the water collector and on to the lip of the crater. Here we stopped at the Schmidt Plaque. Frank said that on his previous trip he had passed the plaque only a short distance away without seeing it.
At the summit we celebrated Frank's 65th birthday. Frank was keeping it secret but the word got out. The register had two entries regarding the Schmidt plaque. One week before our trip, BLM ranger Steve Smith (HPS member) was here looking for the Schmidt plaque. He never said if he found it. One week before that there were entries by three people named Schmidt. They mentioned they were there in tribute to their father, Stephen Schmidt. It was an interesting entry but it did not explain the plaque.
After returning to the car we decided that it was time to visit the Schmidt Tunnel. On arriving at the tunnel site we were greeted by Toni Seger. When Burro Schmidt died, the tunnel became the property of his son. When the son died the property went to probate. It was auctioned to the highest bidder. It was purchased by the late husband of Toni Seger. Toni likes to talk. Once I asked about the Schmidt Plaque I didn't think she would ever stop.
Stephen Schmidt was not a relative of Burro Schmidt. He was a person who loved the desert and spent a lot of time in the El Paso Mountains. When he died, his children held a wake at the Schmidt Tunnel. The next day they carried his ashes and a plaque up to the crater near the summit of Black Mountain. The plaque is a grave site after all. According to Toni there are a minimum of four other grave sites on the slopes of this mountain. This place is a virtual grave yard!
We took a quick trip through the tunnel and then headed off to Tehachapi Mountain Park where we stayed the night. The next morning we climbed Black Mountain #3. We discovered another surprise in the register at this peak. Not only is this peak surrounded by private property but now the peak itself is within the bounds of a Placer Mining Claim which was filed last year. I have no idea how this affects our right to climb this peak.
We then caravanned to the Liebre Mountains were we climbed Sawtooth, Burnt, and Liebre. We met Leslie Metcalf who was out hiking these peaks solo!
This was one of the most eventful trips I have led. I would like to thank those who participated: David Michels, George Thomas, Judy Carson, Jennifer Lambelet, Doug Hatfield (does that guy ever talk?), Bill Lien, Eleanor Carter, Jack Haddad, & Hodda Shalaby. Special thanks goes to Frank Goodykoontz for his assistance.