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Drury Peak

August 1995

By: Bob Michael


The list of named 10,000-foot peaks in Southern California has grown to 19 with the official naming of Newton Drury (or just Drury) Peak, a 10,160+' summit on the "roof" of the San Jacintos west of the summit crest. It is not named on the (1981) San Jacinto Peak 7-1/2' topo; the name was bestowed by the US Board on Geographic Names after this map was published. However, the name is shown on the Forest Service "A Guide to the San Jacinto Wilderness" special map (1989).

On a recent August Saturday, my Las Vegas buddy George Quinn and I set out up the Marion Mountain Trail to re-complete my collection of the Southern California '10ers. This trail, for those who have never experienced its pleasures, is a relentlessly steep 2.5 miles that feels like 7 miles on a well-graded trail. Dispensing with such technicalities as switchbacks, it goes straight up, sometimes between boulders - it's one of those trails that on the way down makes you say, "I can't BELIEVE we went up this!" The trail gentles out a bit at 8500'. Shortly thereafter, one joins the Pacific Crest Trail for half a mile; at about 8950', veer right on the Deer Springs Trail which heads toward Little Round Valley and the summit of San Jacinto. At Little Round Valley, the route leaves the trail for the peak which is only about a quarter mile to the south with less than 400' of elevation gain. We rested by the creek which flows from this lovely, peaceful glen, enjoying the music of the water gliding over dark amber sand between lush grassy banks. All along the route, the running water and the verdant greenery - a legacy of last winter's snowpack - was just amazing for the end of August.

From Little Round Valley at 9800', the route heads a little east of south, up moderate slopes to the summit area. This slope is a classic example of the open, dry boreal forest on the roof of the San Jacinto's gnarled and twisted ancient-looking limber pines with big white granite slabs and boulders in between. (It's interesting to see how different species of pines - limber, foxtail, and bristlecone - all resemble each other in the near-timberline areas or, respectively, the coastal ranges, the Sierra, and the desert ranges.) The summit is most easily approached from the southeast; it is a pleasant, almost enchanted place of wind sculpted trees, big white granite chunks, and chinquapin bushes. The highest boulder is easily topped with a short "2.9" move. We found a nesting-red-can register in a pothole on top that had been placed just a month before by the "San Diego Peaks Section" (Paul Freiman et al.). There had only been one other ascent in the intervening month.

Drury Peak offers a splendid view of the "ridgepole" of the San Jacintos from Folly Peak to Jean Peak from a unique western perspective. And the open, craggy summit with its white granite and twisted trees compares favorably with most any peak on THE LIST. This peak is VERY enthusiastically recommended for List status.

Two final comments:
1) Who was Newton Drury, and how does he merit having this peak named for him?

2) It was great to get back into the local mountains; I'd almost forgotten how beautiful they ran be. Since finishing THE LIST, most of my weekends have been devoted to beach volleyball, which is a lot of fun and (especially 2-man) a terrific workout - but it just can't offer the participant visions of Heaven the way the mountains do on a perfect day. I thought of a quote I read a long time ago from some Italian alpinist... "The mountaineer returns to his hills because he remembers always that he has forgot so much."

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