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Black Mountain #1, Castle Rocks, Indian Mountain, Ranger Peak

27 July 1996

By: Penelope May

It was a nice boiling summer day as we gathered in theoretically cool (realistically hot) Idyllwild for our trek up four easy peaks. We began our trip by driving up the Black Mountain Road to the lookout, from which we enjoyed beautiful views, eye-balling our next target, Castle Rocks. The road which leads to both peaks is driveable by "rugged" car, with 4-wheel drive not necessary. We then drove to the "Fuller Ridge" trailhead further down the Black Mountain road which is the starting point for Castle Rocks. We had our permit already (available easily by mail by calling (909) 659 - 2117) so just marched on. Although we had scouted the peaks the prior weekend, this one we had not checked out because the trusty Bronco had wheezed to a halt most inconveniently on a dirt road 7 miles from civilization at about 4 in the aftrenoon; my husband, funnily enough, had been more interested in extracting us and the vehicle from the area than popping off for a 5 mile hike! So, somewhat nervously, I followed the (what turned out to be excellent) directions in the HPS guide while scrutinizing the topo map at every bend and turn: lo and behold, we found the crucial turn-off from the trail which led us up, steep cross-country, to the peak. By the way, it's the left hand pile of rocks, not the right hand pile.

After a very pleasant lunch "on the rocks," enjoying marvelous vistas, including the San Jacinto massif right behind us, we set off back to the cars through the beautiful alpine forest, relishing what turned out to be our last good leg stretch. We assembled ourselves in the various vehicles and drove up the main highway north to the Indian Mountain turn-off. This road is rather sandy and in places really needs 4-wheel drive although it can (and was) done by a fearless high-clearance driver! The view from the top is panoramic!

After driving back down this warm and dusty road, we headed north for our last peak of the day: Ranger.

Originally planned as a walk-a-bit, drive-a-bit day, this peak was to have been a hike to refresh us after the last drive. However, upon scouting it the prior week, we had discovered that is was virtually impassable due to dense, prickly vegetation, low growing scrub oaks and fields of poison oak! We took the wimpy way out and just drove up it from the fire station. We did, however, have to walk up a few carved out steps (yes!) to the peak register. Despite being a very easy peak, the view was, again, beautiful!

The trip was then completed and our sweaty drivers/hikers wended their way home. It was hardly an exhausting day; and not very exciting either since everything went according to plan. Still, we did get four peaks!!! Participants: Jeff Deffik, Lena Hayashi, Tom Hill, Dorothy Danziger, Woody McCauley, John Dykstra, John Wells, Ron May.

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