Granite Mountain #2, Whale Peak, Hot Springs Mountain
28-29 January 1967
By: Vic Miller
Leaders: Vic Miller, Forrest Keck
Ten members and one guest awaited in their cars at 8:30 a.m. Saturday morning and by 8:40 we had left Scissors Crossing bound for the Oriflamme Canyon-Granite roadhead. As has been frequent on Section trips of a "small" turnout, the great majority of the hikers were emblem holders. At 9:15, led by Vic Miller, we were on our way up the so-called "miner's route", which apparently had its origins as a narrow wagon or Model T track, but which is today little more than a wide trail in places. The Angeles Chapter peakers did not meet officially with the Riverside Chapter peakers and campers until Saturday at twilight, but the leader received the able energies of Frank McDaniel as "le bon assistant" on both day's hikes. Though the trail peters out at the mine, nine hikers emerged about the summit at 1:00 p.m. after climbing 3100' and nearly 6 miles, and another arrived a while later. We walked down at 2:20, after having enjoyed our snacks and a vista of near-maximum visibility in all directions.
All of the group had returned to the cars by 4:15 p.m. Three Angeles Chapter latecomers reached the top about 2:30 p.m. and reported later at camp, as well as five Riversiders. That evening at the Little Pass Campground, we were contacted by Forrest Keck (who, along with the Park Ranger, had undertaken the task of obtaining member's Park permits) and invited to the Riverside group's campfire. This event included very detailed and absorbing accounts by the Park Ranger and Mr. Keck concerning local Park features, and especially interesting was the story of the 1931-1944 residence of the Marshall South "nudist" family of nearby Ghost Mtn. The Souths (later plus three children) took up their abode on the summit of the mountain in the beginning of the Depression before the creation of the Park to give isolation and "meaning" to their poverty. Both were university graduates and soon began to live "au natural" (as did "the noble savage") on the mountain, where they built a house. The family left their Ghost Mtn. home about 1944 (the nearest water had always been 14 miles distant), and were not permitted to return as resident-landholders several years thereafter. Their home is now in ruins.
The nine climbers who broke camp by 8:00 a.m. Sunday caravanned to the Whale roadhead over a sand road. The true summit was breached about 10:30 after a little uncertainty amid the melange of thickly-forested pinyon ridges and grassy, sandy arroyos on the "Whale's" 5000' back. All hikers were back to the cars at Pinion Pass by 12:30. Only four climbers stayed for the Hot Springs Mtn. venture. Access over the Indian land was obtained by Frank McDaniel on the same day with no trouble. The Cahuilla tribe charges 50¢ per person for entry. After removing a heavy windfall log on the snowy road at about 5700' elevation, we drove the cars to just over a mile from the fire tower; a very steep snow slope stalled the car at that point. We then (after a walk to the tower) hiked 3/4 mile in the brush to the east summit where Bob Hawthorne's 1964 register was located. Phil Martin saw his 230+ peak and the leader his 194th peak on the summit rock. We returned to the Warner Hot Springs about 5:00 p.m., having had superb weekend hiking weather.
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