Rattlesnake Peak

4 May 1969

By: John Backus


Leader: John Backus
Asst.: Duane McRuer

Your leaders scouted this trip early in January and found the planned route quite feasible. Of course, the rains came right after this and made not only the scouting trip useless, but the originally scheduled date of March 22. After conferences by telephone with the State Division of Highways, the County Road Department, and the Sheriff's office, the trip was hopefully rescheduled for May 4. On April 19, the San Gabriel Canyon Road reopened to travel, so another scouting trip was in order. This showed that the original route was not possible because the planned stream crossing had been washed out, and with the East Fork running twenty-three feet wide and several feet deep, wading across did not appear either inviting or practical. However, after some negotiation, permission was obtained from the Forest Service and the Sheriff's office to use the new road that is being built up the north side of the East Fork canyon; this made the stream crossing unnecessary.

Hence, on the above date, 13 people plus the two leaders assembled close by the Sheriff's Detention Camp on the East Fork road. It had rained the night before, and the sky was overcast and discouraging; however, everyone assured everyone else that the sun would soon come out so the deputy on duty opened the gate and we started out. The road is passable to passenger cars for about two miles, to a point where a large fill is being built; past this point, 4-wheel drive and dry weather appear desirable. We left the cars at 8:30, hiked up the road another mile, and then took off up a ridge. Here your leader discovered the privilege of being first in line also gave him the honor of knocking the water off the brush as he passed through it, getting soaking wet in short order while the people following stayed reasonably dry. Curiously, this was one trip where no one seemed anxious to go ahead of the group. The route was lengthened considerably by your water-soaked leader wandering about trying to avoid the wettest brush; however we arrived on top of the peak at 11:45.

The sun had remained hidden all this time, and now it started to snow. However, the weather was helpful in one way; Dave Welbourn made his 100th peak on this climb and the bottle of champagne he carried up stayed well chilled. When opened, the cork disappeared into the snowstorm (someone will probably find it on Iron Mountain next year), and the champagne served round, staying nicely cold by reason of the snowflakes falling into it.

After a half-hour of snow-seasoned lunch, the group decided it had had enough of the frigid mountain top, so it prevailed upon the leader (who had not had time to drink his beer) to get under way. The trip down was not quite as wet as the trip up, since by carefully watching for footprints, it was possible to retrace the course with some exactness and so go through the brush that had already had the water knocked off it. However, about half way down the mountain, the snow changed to a light drizzle, dampening everyone impartially. We arrived back to the cars at 2:30 and drove out, having climbed the mountain but seeing none of the spectacular views of the San Gabriels that were originally advertised in the schedule.

On the drive home, as you might expect, the sun came out.


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