I celebrated HPS' 50th anniversary by participating in not one, not
two, but FOUR of our historical events in the past two months. Had a
really great time, met new people, met famous old people, of course
saw some of the most spectacular scenery imaginable in all of Southern
California. Don't despair if you missed them, though: read the
schedule of upcoming outings and you'll see there are still some
left. Come join us!
JUNE 6: SUGARLOAF MOUNTAIN. Where were you on June 6th, 1982? June 7th,
1987? June 2nd, 1991? June 4th, 2000? June 6th, 2004? Most of us don't
know the answer to that. The few of us who do may be suspected of having
a serious Life Style Problem. With some exceptions like: Stag Brown,
Bobcat Thompson, and Joe Young. The first Sunday of June, every
June since forever? 1981?, these young men have been leading a hike,
the famous First Sunday in June with Stag hike.
The very first Sunday, they went to Sugarloaf. And in 2004, they
returned. While many have joined Stag many times on these hikes, for
Wolf & I, it was a first. Other participants and leaders included Art
Schain (Nevada), Kent Grynicht (?) from Florida, Nami and Reina Lee
Brown, Dave Cannon, Mary Bagan, Frank Dobos, Mia Yang, Lynda and Tom
Armbruster, Winnette Butler, Annick Wolf, Julie Rush, Julie Rush's
dog, and our dog Pecos.
A group that size, a trailhead that obscure, of course things were a tad
confused. We regrouped at Mill Creek (bathrooms) and thought we had
everyone (we did have Julie), but we didn't. Following a truly slow
truck seemingly unaware of the custom of slower traffic using the pullouts
to let the faster traffic by, we eventually regrouped near Heart Bar
Campground. We thought we had everyone. We didn't: we had somehow lost
Julie (a good trick, in the middle of a caravan of cars trailing a slow
Elsewhere in Southern California, there was a heat wave in progress.
Actually, there was heat wave in progress on Sugarloaf Mountain, too.
But surely at such a high elevation, it'd be OK. Well ... maybe.
Though given the relatively late hour when we started moving, I have to
admit to having felt a tad warm. It's possible the rest of the group
felt the same, as we moved slower and slower nearing the summit,
and the group got fairly spread out. With so many leaders, and a very
nice trail, I think we all enjoyed our mellow saunter through the
lodgepoles, with sweeping views, to the summit of Sugarloaf, where
the early arrivals got to laze around for longer than I'll confess to
before I arrived, and another goodly interval before the sweep swept
in with the last hikers. What a fine place to have a nap, though, and
eat. And eat. And eat. Have you ever noticed how everyone else's
food is better than whatever it is you carried up? I love these
After resting up from the strenuous climb, we all straggled back to
the cars. Well, some of us straggled. One of us thought she'd left
her wallet behind a tree at a split break, and fair sprinted back
down. Uh oh, no wallet! Well, maybe Joe was guarding it at a critical
trail junction. No joy... All's well as ends well, though: turns out
her wallet had simply sat out the hike in the back of one of the cars.
What to do after such a successful outing? That's a no brainer: most
of us drifted down the highway to Angelus Oaks, and had a fine meal.
Our choices were a bit constrained (the grill wasn't working), and the
early orderers made do by ordering soup and boring stuff like that.
Not so our end of the table, where Joe and I and some of the others
devoured some very good pizza. Those of you who thought it was too hot
to hike on the first Sunday of June, 2004 ... missed a VERY nice day!
JUNE 27: GROUSE MOUNTAIN. In June of 1946, Weldon Heald climbed Grouse
Mountain (about two miles south of my house) with Jack Bascom. It was
his 100th peak, and the beginning of the game of Hundred Peaks. Less than
a decade later (1954, 50 years ago), the Hundred Peaks Section was
formed. What better way to celebrate the anniversary of our Section than
to revisit the peak where it all began?
I had the idea that it'd be fun to climb Grouse directly from the
north, up a ridge from Pine Mountain Club. It'd mean a drive of less
than five minutes from my house to the trailhead, what's not to like?
I had prehiked it with the dog (who insisted on bumping every pinon
pine along the way, sending up veritable clouds of yellow-green
pollen, so that I looked like a very odd blond when I eventually
returned home), and it is quite a nice ridge. Joe Young and Stag Brown
were going to lead the main group to Grouse on a more normal route,
across Pinos, and I figured Wolf and I could meet them there with our
Things didn't work out quite the way they were planned. The day of the
hike, Wolf was under the weather. I had no co-leader. So the obvious
thing to do would be to meet my group of hikers, and tell them the
rendezvous wasn't going to happen quite as planned. Rather than
ascending "my" ridge and meeting everyone atop Grouse, we'd kill a
little time and rendezvous with the other group at the trailhead, and
all hike in together.
At first, it seemed like my group was all of one hiker: Joanne.
Clearly the concept of doing Grouse the "hard way" required better
marketing. But then as she and I were leaving the parking area,
another hiker popped up from the pavement. So then we were three. And
when we arrived at the traditional Pinos trailhead (which I had NOT
intended to use for my hike), darned if there weren't two more hikers
who had planned to be on my hike.
We still had a few hours until Joe & crew were to arrive from Sylmar,
so we sunbathed, strolled in the woods, admired the
slightly-over-the-hill Douglas irises, and actually had a very
pleasant wait. It was a lovely day. Eventually, Joe arrived with the
Sylmarian horde (half an hour before the earliest time I could imagine
they would arrive -- I was scared to ask how fast they had driven),
and we were ready to head for Grouse. Well, almost. We were all in the
big parking lot near the Chula Vista campground. In Joe's experience,
the gate on the Pinos road is open every summer. In my much more
limited experience, it's never open. I think maybe it USED to be open
every summer, and now they don't do that anymore. This meant, though,
that the hike was longer and higher than planned. Not everyone had
budgeted food, energy, water, for the longer hike. Most of the group
(but only half the leaders) made it all the way out to Grouse.
I'm pretty sure everyone had a good time, though. Even if Joe didn't
bring back quite enough beer from Viet Nam for everyone to share, tsk!
The route across Pinos and Sawmill to Grouse really is more historically
appropriate. When Heald did the hike in 1946, he and Jack drove to the
end of the dirt road (now paved) in Cuddy Valley, and hiked up Pinos
from there. We probably started a bit closer to Pinos than he did, and
of course had road and trail to follow. But I expect the Jeffrey pines,
white firs, Douglas iris, and Maricopa lilies we admired along the way,
not to mention the dramatic views in all directions (the Chumash consider
the summit of Pinos to be the center of the universe, and I think they
have that right), were probably similarly enjoyed by Heald and Bascom.
The summit of Grouse is virtually unchanged, except there's probably a tad
more pine sap on the rocks there. (Anyone have any bright ideas how to
get it off my dog?) Joe had hoped that Bobcat and Stag would recreate
the famous handshake. Um, that's not Stag in the photograph, but you
probably guessed as much.
Maybe next year I'll lead the ridge route to Grouse. Later in the year,
so the hikers don't come out all yellow-green. Talk about lucky, casting
my lot in with the "traditional" group.
JULY 3, 10K, LAKE and GRINNELL. What's so historical about these peaks?
Well, Grinnell (spelled Grinnel) was on our original peak list. But
the official name was apparently Fish Creek Mountain. When I climbed
Gorgonio with Mars Bonfire and Edith Liu on September 12th, 2001 (the day
after the world stood still), she brought along a topographic map
that just fascinated the heck out of me, because it had the "old"
names. But HPS went to bat with the Board of Geographic Names (like Tom
Hill is doing now, to promote Southwell Peak), and succeeded, and now
the names on the map match the names and our peak list.
Nowadays, we often do 10K Ridge when we're in the neighborhood of Lake
and Grinnell. (The excuse? The usual: it's on the List.) The first few
times I did 10K Ridge, we hiked up the Fish Creek Trail to Fish Creek
Saddle (now we know why it was once called Fish Creek Mountain, huh?),
nipped over and did Grinnell, then scrambled up Lake and followed the
ridgeline out to 10K, before shortcutting down a steep ridge back to
the trail and out. Last time I did it differently, and liked it so well,
Wolf & I inflicted it on our hikers this time.
Thus: follow the Fish Creek Trail briefly, until you pass the first
creek, but before the meadow (called, can you guess?, Fish Creek Meadow).
Leave the trail to the left and ascend the ridge. And ascend the ridge.
And ascend the ridge. There's actually almost a use trail, it's not very
steep in most places, there's shade, there is the occasional flat spot
where one can catch one's breath. And none of the usual false summit teasing
some of our peaks indulge in: 2000' or so of this ridge, and voila!, you
are at the summit of 10K ridge, signing in, having done most of the work
for the day.
We celebrated by having a nice lunch, then followed the ridge down and
across, through the fallen forest created by some awful fire, enjoying
(or at least noticing and commenting on) the distinctive smell of the
pennyroyal (which one couldn't not avoid stepping on). In the
neighborhood of Lake, I was slightly perplexed. Which rock pile was
the summit? I vaguely remember being faked out last time by the wrong
one, so held out until I saw one that looked right. Two of our hikers
were equipped with GPS. One said we weren't there yet, that it was
still a short distance along the ridge. Well, that was credible, I'd
been faked out last time, it would be par for the course to be faked
out again. But wait, we had a second GPS voting, and it said we were
there. Hmmm, I thought GPSes were supposed to help us? Better climb
this pile of rock and find out if there's a register...
As indeed there was. So we had another lovely long break, signed in,
and then headed down to Fish Creek Saddle, where the Fish Creek
Volunteer Ranger confirmed our possession of a Wilderness Permit to
hike on the Fish Creek Trail. Having established our credentials, one
hiker opted to have another siesta, while the rest of us headed up
Grinnell (not Fish Creek) Mountain. I know from earlier trips that
when you get to the top, you should turn right, go through the
butchered trees (is it a helipad or what? ugly, anyhow), and voila,
there will be the summit. But did I say we had hikers along with GPS?
Well, when we got to the top, the devious devices said we were there,
or it was too the left. After scrounging around on random rockpiles,
trying to keep the GPS's happy, everyone eventually gave in and
followed me to the right, through the butchered trees, to (you guessed
it) the summit.
Thence back to Fish Creek Saddle to collect our rested up hiker, and down
down down the long switchbacks of Fish Creek Trail, eventually crossing
Fish Creek, passing by Fish Creek Meadow, passing by the place we had
initially left the trail (Doris and I were both watching for the place,
and neither of us saw it), across the other stream, up that hill that
didn't seem like much of a hill in the morning when we went down it,
and back out to the Fish Creek Trailhead.
The road in to the trailhead, by the way, is getting bumpier by the year.
Plan on high clearance if you're driving it anytime soon.
Which brings us to: JULY 24th, THE WATERMAN RENDEZVOUS. Compared to the
First Sunday in June with Stag, the Waterman Rendezvous is a relatively
young tradition. I think this year was the 11th. What a good idea Diane
Dunbar had when she first proposed this event. There a so many wonderful
ways to get to Waterman!
This year, we sampled 1) coming up the trail from Buckhorn, 2) some
devious concoction by Southern and Rosemary), 3) coming in from Three
Points, 4) arriving after ascending Twin Peaks, and 4) coming up the
dirt road on mountain bike. Tom and Lynda Armbruster were going to
lead the hike from Three Points, but Lynda unfortunately ended up in
the hospital instead, and Wolf & I did our Tom & Lynda imitation.
Unfortunately, we did it at Wolf & Karen pace, standing tradition on
its head: the Twin Peaks hike is supposed to be the last to arrive.
Instead, our group was the one that straggled in last, just as the
party was winding down. (And rumor has it, Twin Peaks was first or
Well, almost as the party was winding down. Actually, I had a great
time chatting up old friends. Ralph Turner was there, but he wasn't
the oldest. Unfortunately, I lost the name of the oldest attendee, who
is a sprightly 87. Why do I think I won't be on Waterman when I turn
87? Someone had lugged up a 5-liter box of wine, which he was delighted
to later discover had been totally consumed. (He apparently was tired
of lugging it about). There was the usual spread of fried chicken,
cheese and crackers, cookies, fruit, chips... This time, someone (Peter,
I think) had planned ahead and brought up a new register.
One truth about Waterman that I think everyone instinctively understands:
last people on the peak get to clean up the trash. Because it's like
someone hits a light switch: there's this great party going on, and then,
boom!, almost everyone is gone, but there's still some trash remaining.
Seriously, not that much trash. Most of the participants on our Three
Points hike had opted not to hike back to Three Points, but had instead
rolled their own car shuttles, signing on to one of the other hikes and
getting a lift from Buckhorn down to Three Points. So when all the dust
settled, standing next to the picnic rock were Laura Webb (HPS Programs
Chair), Frank Hernandez, Rosina Mueller, Wolf, me, and our dog. Obviously,
most of the trash had been packed out if this small group managed the
rest of it. And manage it we did. Gabriele, if you're missing a very
pretty towel, I think Rosina is keeping it safe for you!
So the five of us (and the dog) had a quite pleasant saunter down the
dirt road (following the bicycle tracks when in doubt, since Mars &
Kathy and crew had just gone out that way) to where Laura had parked
her truck. No way did she have room to cram all of us into her
pickup. So while she drove Frank and Wolf down to Three Points, Rosina
and I and Pecos sprawled happily in the shade, drinking water and
watching the world go by. "That sounds like Don Cwik," I muttered,
hearing someone approaching from my left (towards Wrightwood). Don's a
very fast hiker, it made no sense at all that he'd be there, then. But
as the speaker walked into view, he not only sounded like Don Cwik, he
looked like Don Cwik. In fact (surprise, surprise!) he WAS Don
Cwik. Turns out that several hikers had opted to attempt Kratka Ridge,
after Waterman, but didn't have quite enough water, so had turned
back. That's what they were doing there, then -- returning to their
cars. We'd only made it down to the highway, while they had already
been partway up Kratka.
See you there next year!