Ranger Peak, Indian Mountain, Castle Rocks, Black Mountain #1 (LO)
10 August 1991
By: David Eisenberg
Leaders: David Eisenberg, Ruth Dobos, Frank Dobos
Expecting hot weather, we met early at the Pomona carpool point and quickly headed for Ranger. We used the route up the East face which is fairly brush free if you stay under the trees.
Indian was a much warmer prospect. The road was closed due to fire danger making this a hot hike. On the return to the cars, we saw clouds building over Fuller Ridge but paid them little attention at the time. We ate lunch at the trailhead while Frank Dobos went into Idyllwild to pick up the permit. The clouds continued to build and we began to hear thunder from the ridge.
We decided to continue the hike, with the possibility of having to abort if the lightning continued. We continued to hear thunder and see lightning until we reached the base of Castle Rocks. While we were resting, there were no further strikes anywhere. There had also been none near the peak so we decided it was safe to continue up. We reached the summit 1/2 hour later and heard and saw no lightning, so we paused for a quick sign in and cookie break. Frank passed out his favorite foil wrapped Hungarian cookies. As he reached up to hand me the package ... ZAP!
Frank, Diane Dunbar, and I were struck in the head. Ruth was leaning against the summit and the bolt traveled down her side. I was told that there was a crackling sound but never heard it. Frank said that the only other time he has seen Ruth travel downhill was when she stepped over a rattlesnake. Those of you who love cookies as much as I will understand that I ate the cookie Frank had just handed me before leaving the peak. Then I realized just how stupid that was and quickly caught up with Ruth. It was quite a shocking experience!
In spite of the numbness we still felt on our return to the cars, we pressed on with Black. It was notable that since we were hit, there where no other lightning strikes anywhere in the area.
Lucky participants (we all lived) were Pete Doggett, Rosina Mueller, Pam Cloutier, and Diane Dunbar. Thanks to Ruth and Frank Dobos for their excellent assist.
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