Roy Stewart had already had his plans for a joint list finish with Charlie Knapke ruined by the unseasonal rain and was facing the prospect of not being able to finish at all this year if there was a fire closure in the area. We were joined on these peaks by Barbara Pedersen, Pete Doggett, Paula Peterson, David Jensen, and Jennifer Lambelet. We spend the night before in the Best Western Motel in Maricopa (expensive but nice). Earlier that day, Paula, Pete, and Barbara climbed Peak and McPherson while the rest of us did Fox. After checking into the motel, Roy, Jennifer, and I decided to "one-up" the others and drove up to Peak and McPherson. We took the long way, having been told that the road from the campground was permanently closed. Imagine our surprise when we drove past it and found it open.
We began hiking about 7:30 am and reached Chokecherry Spring around 11:30. We found the water flowing quickly, taking about 15 seconds per quart. We were forewarned by Carleton Shay and had brought loppers, clippers and saws for Samon. The brush had been compressed by the snow and many trees had branches split so they hung over the trail. It took us 3-1/2 hours to reach the summit. The route was much less brushy on the way back and we took only 1-1/2 hours to return. We filled up all available water containers and headed for our camping spot in the saddle above.
We took off Wednesday morning about 7:15 and headed for Big Pine. The bears were indeed extra hungry this year. The register can had been punctured by bear teeth! We took a long lunch/picture break on the summit of West Big Pine. It is only right that the most difficult peak to get to should have the most breathtaking view. We were back at the campsite at 2:00. We packed up and headed toward Madulce. About 1 mile into the trail, we dropped our packs at the fork and afternoon hiked to Madulce. There were many trees fallen across the trail, but it was passable. On our return to our packs, we continued on the other trail for 2 miles to the Madulce Station were we put our fire permit to good use for a campfire. Pete came back to tell us of this luxurious outhouse with a mahogany seat down the trail but failed to convince any of us. After much protesting, Roy went to check the story out. He came back to tell us that there really was a mahogany seat! This sounded like a put up job to us. Next, Dave and I went to check the location of the spring (really flowing hard) and the location of the trail out. We saw this brand new outhouse with a mahogany seat. Both of us tried to convince the others that Pete had been telling the truth, but they were sure it was a prank. At sunset, Jennifer went to use the outhouse, but Barbara and Paula used the woods since they didn't believe her either. It was only the following morning when all of us went to see it. The Outhouse had been built by the OFOC (Old Foresters Outdoor Club) and carried up to the station in pieces and reassembled on the spot. It is almost as nice as indoor plumbing and if it is not mahogany, the seat is oak with a mahogany stain.
Thursday, we hiked out. The trail is 6 miles from the campground making it 10 miles to Madulce if you want to day hike it from this route. There were many stream crossings. To our surprise, we met a trail crew working on the trail. They told us that the Mt Pinos ranger district is the only one in the forest which maintains a full time trail crew. We suggested that they might someday want to restore the old trail to Samon Peak.
David and Jennifer spared us the 0.8 mile hike back to the normal trailhead by walking back, getting their cars, and picking us up. We all agreed that this route was a big improvement over having to walk back along the road.