Samon Peak, Madulce Peak, Big Pine Mountain, West Big Pine
14 May 1996
By: Carleton Shay
Leaders: Carleton Shay and Rob Langsdorf
Last year two or three trips to the Big 4 were scheduled in the spring, but all were canceled because of rain or snow. This year the two trips scheduled succeeded, but with different leaders than those who put them in the Schedule. On ours, Frank Goodykoontz was to co-lead, but his back wouldn't permit it. Fortunately, Rob Langsdorf, ex-San Diego Chapter Chair and M-rated leader kept the trip alive. Originally nine signed up, but the LA heat dissuaded all but four of us to brave it. We were not your typical Los Angeles group: Rob from La Jolla, Ken Jones, who flew down from Newcastle, Washington (near Seattle); Mars Bonfire from Quartz Hill (who went with Peter Doggett's Big 4 trip less than a month before, and thought he would try it again), and myself. Even the ones who bowed out were from all over the state: San Diego, Banning and San Jose to name a few. How's that for an Angeles Chapter outing!
The weather was better than anticipated the first two days: warm, but with a strong cool breeze. We hiked into Chokecherry Spring, ate lunch and then did Samon. Although water was not flowing through the pipe at Chokecherry Spring, there was plenty of water flowing over the rocks, so water was no problem. We decided to camp at Chokecherry rather than slog up the road to the saddle for the night. The next day we donned our packs, took extra water since we weren't sure whether the creek would be flowing at Madulce Station, and hiked to the saddle. We then dropped the packs, climbed Big Pine and West Big Pine, and returned to the saddle for a late lunch. We then put on our packs again, hiked to the trail junction for Madulce (a sign there says 2 miles to the peak but it seems like more), dropped our packs, climbed Madulce, returned, and dropped to Madulce Station about a thousand feet below. The creek there was flowing nicely, and the campground is one of the better ones we use, shaded by oaks. The Station even has an outhouse!
It had been clouding up late in the day, and looked threatening. While we were setting up camp about 7:00 it started to rain a little, and then more, and continued all night and into the next day. We were tempted to move into the cabin, but resisted, since a previous group had been bothered all night by mice. Also there were masks lying around the cabin, apparently used by the Forest Service a few days before in fear of the Hanta virus. It rained much more than we thought it would, though, so we probably should have moved in after all. We got wet packing up, slogged over to the cabin for a relatively dry breakfast, and took off. Between the rain and the wet brush which was thick on and over the trail down Santa Barbara Canyon, we got completely soaked long before we reached the cars a little before 11 am. The trail was very muddy and slippery, and great for glissading except when you don't want to. We had been caught by the unexpected storm that also reached LA that day. In fact it showered most of the way home, the heaviest one for me being in San Fernando.
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