Leaders: Doug Mantle, Vi Grasso
It wasn't so much that the BIG 4 daunted me when Doug proposed to lead them. What daunted me was his trip writeup. Quoting: "Welcome! Meet 6:00 a.m. Friday (ugh) at the parking area for Samon (see enclosed). We have lots of miles, over 40, and if there's much snow, er, well, it could be messy. Anyway, tentatively we'll do Samon Friday, backpack on, perhaps toting water, to Alamar (approx. 14 mi, 3,500', much brush on Samon, perhaps some postholing too; bring extra water container for backpacking beyond Chockcherry). Then, well, we'll see. Plan on a tough, relentless trip!"
Two people didn't hesitate to cancel out. Other call-ins said, well, no. Two of the strongest hikers I know stayed on, Terry Flood and Mark Adrian. So there were just 4 of us total, and I was left to do my own sweep. (Terry did accompany me now and then, when I promised to talk about snakes.)
Doug was right for the most part, fortunately not so right in other predictions: i.e., no snow except for some patches here & there hence no messy hiking and we had ok accessible water. The Samon trail is well brushed. (On the approach to the summit from the SW, Doug heard one of Terry's friends - I promptly selected the brush to the right.)
Unfortunately, at camp, what none of us expected, based on weatherman predictions, it first misted Fri. nite after we went to bed, then it sprinkled, then it downright rained. All 4 participants got up Sat a.m. emerging out of wet sleeping bags. The space blankets held up, but were not adequate. (Our tents had been disdainfully left in the car anticipating great clear weather.)
The stats for the trip are: Started up the road Fri. 4/8 at 6:30ish arriving Chockcherry at 9:50 a. Off to Samon at 10ish, back down the road at 2:00 p., loaded the packs (extra water) on to beautiful Alamar arriving at about 4:15. After enjoying our dinner and great campfire that Terry tended and Doug contributed to, we got into our sleeping bags observing that what appeared to be a heavy marine layer was settling down in the canyon and ominously reaching campsite. Next a.m. Sat., wet and groggy, we're off to Big Pine & West B. Pine hoping the sun would burn thru the clouds. (West B. Pine was in a whiteout, but with the wind swirling around, we could make out the cliffs below.) Back to Alamar at 11:30 for lunch break which gave us a chance to aerate the sleeping bags, but the clouds continued to obscure the sun. So as not to double back to Alamar on Sunday, we opted for lugging the packs up to Madulce Saddle where we started for the peak around 1:30 p. The air was brisk with temperatures +50 and the view in all directions from the top of Madulce at around 2:45 was magnificent. Back to the Saddle by 4:00ish (4:20 for me) and on to Chockcherry by 5:00 where we camped for the night. By this time the clouds to the East were quite dark and menacing and we anticipated another wet night. It got very cold, a few frozen flakes came down now and then, but mercifully, we kept dry. Sun. off at 7:00 a. making it to the cars at 10:00 (10:10 for me). The weather continued brisk, but sunnier. And so, another RELENTLESS trip led by Doug where I managed to hang in there.
(My kingdom for a bike!)