Palomar Mountain, Combs Peak, Beauty Peak, Iron Spring Mountain
11 June 1988
By: Lou Brecheen
Leaders: Lou Brecheen, Ron Jones
Judging from the peak registers these San Diego County peaks are seldom led, and that probably accounts for the fact that 40 persons signed up for the hikes. 32 actually showed. We met in Aguanga at 9AM Saturday and consolidated cars there. Then we drove up the Thousand Trails Road 2/5 mile east of Aguanga, all the way to the 70 foot Lookout tower, which was "manned" by a pleasant Forest Service woman. Only 14 persons at a time were allowed on the tower structure, so it required almost an hour to get all of our party to the top and start the drive back to Aguanga.
We then had lunch (slightly late) and caravanned 10 miles South on Highway 79 to the Chihuahua Valley Road, and drove to the junction with the Pacific Crest Trail about 11.4 miles in. The Boy Scout gate was unlocked, but I had called the Orange Empire Council and they kindly gave me the combination, just in case. We hiked the PCT to the high point below Combs Peak (1 1/2 miles) where the well brushed out trail to the top is marked by a large "duck". All of our party carried cutters and we did a lot of "trail maintenance" work on the way up. When we arrived on top of Combs Peak, we discovered Diane Rosentreter had just climbed her 200th Peak - what a celebration we had at Warner Oaks CG that night. It made up for the almost-List Finish we missed - Jim Kuivinen had been a possible, but job demands keep him from reaching his goal. Some remarked, "You mean he let's a job and buying food and shelter keep him from finishing The List?"
People brought so many good things to eat, it reminded me of another famous feast. We started out with a bottle of Champagne and a sack of chips, but when we finished we took twelve baskets of left-overs and 16 bottles.
A daylight start on Sunday took us back to Aguanga and East on Highway 371 to the Cahuilla Indian Reservation. We closely followed the Peak Guide but were still questioned by a few natives who wanted to know by what treaty we were on "their road". Leora Stoler sweet-talked them into letting us proceed, and we went on to the Power's Ranch which I had called for permission to use in advance. There is no trail (that we could find) through that maze of ribbonwood and chamise heading for the saddle in the South. Still, we climbed to the saddle in the arroyo, and headed down to the earthen dam along the narrow wash. Then we followed the road to the ridge top (about 0.25 mile), and found the brushed-out trail up to Beauty Peak. Again, our party did yeoman trail maintenance work with loppers and clippers.
Returning to the dam, we left two of our party and started for Iron Springs Mountain. We found a "duck" on the side of the road, at the proper point, and headed off into the brush. My Lord, there is no way to describe the thicket of ribbonwood, manzanita, and chamise we had to cut and force our way through to attain that peak. After a half mile, we did find evidence of previous passage, and followed it as best we could. We cut a new path along the old one. Strangers would have thought us to be some wierd religious sect from all of the blood sacrifices we offered. Probably the proper route to the peak is along the ridge somewhat to the left of the point where you depart from the road. When we reached the summit, we were treated to another champagne celebration by Jack Haddad, who announced his Emblem status.
During the ensuing conversations, we discovered that we had an unprecedented (for me) amount of experience on this trip. There were 15 people with 173 peaks or more, 12 with more than 200, and three with 259. Wes Veit had 266.
I recommend that Iron Springs be led three times a year, by the same route, and that a path ten feet wide be maintained. Thanks to Ron Jones for the nice assist and to all the party members who helped make this trip memorable.
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