San Rafael Mountain, McKinley Mountain, Santa Cruz Peak

25 April 1992

By: Alan Coles


Leaders: Alan Coles, Frank Goodykoontz

This was your standard mid-spring "Big 3" trip. We had 13 eager souls turn up 7 am early at Cachuma Saddle, northwest of Santa Barbara. The day was already quite warm so we mounted our backpacks and started briskly up the McKinley fire road admiring the blooming poppies (both California and bush varieties) along the way. We paused at 2 shady spots along the 7+ miles to Cold Spring before arriving there around 11:30. The day was hot, cloudless, and bugs were abounding everywhere.

After lunch, we were about to set off with day packs for San Rafael and McKinley when David and his group returned from doing Santa Cruz (they had just completed a traverse from the "Big 4" over to the "Big 3"). After the usual greetings and chitchat, we departed while they packed up and later left to go home.

The day was very warm with only a slight breeze which prompted Paula Peterson to make some remark about having to walk through snow which I had mentioned in my trip writeup. Sure enough, no sooner had she said it we came across a small patch right off to the side. The timing was perfect which resulted in the usual snowball frenzy. (I must confess that I had been in the area the week before and saw the snow.)

After doing San Rafael, we went over to McKinley and enjoyed the fine views and cooler breezes there before returning to our camp at Cold Spring. We got back early, around 3:30 and had plenty of time to take a bath, nap or just lie around in the shade. Around 5 we started the community salad that was so abundant I couldn't give the rest of it away. Everyone had an early dinner and some were in bed before the sun went down. Only a few stayed up till 8 on a warm evening that needed no campfire.

The next morning we awoke early. It did not drop much below 60 the entire night so we were eager to get moving quickly. We left at 6:30 and followed the roller coaster road to Santa Cruz reaching it shortly after 9. On the way back we came across a sleepy rattlesnake that had to be prodded off the trail. We returned to camp just shortly after noon. After lunch, we packed up and left around 1 and returned to our cars before 5.

Participants: Ken Jones, Jack Haddad, David Michels, Suzanne Charlston, Patty Kline, Pete Doggett, Basil Anton, John Radalj, Gary Murta, Paula Peterson, Stan Rosenwald. Special thanks, once again to the man who has never met a peak he didn't like, Frank Goodykoontz.


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