Samon Peak, Madulce Peak, Big Pine Mountain, West Big Pine

30 May 1997

By: Carleton Shay


Leaders: Carleton Shay, Frank Goodykoontz, Tom Hill

This was the weekend of the big LA heat wave. We wanted to believe the weather report which said that things would cool down a degree or two each day, but even with that modest improvement were sure it would be a scorcher barely possible to endure. Of the fifteen original participants, three called and canceled, citing the heat, and two were no-shows. That left nine brave (or crazy?) souls who started out early in Santa Barbara Canyon in bright sunlight, headed for Chokecherry Spring some nine miles and 2100'+ gain later.

Frank's sciatica was acting up, so regretfully he turned back after about an hour, and Tom took up the rear. Things were looking bad, and it was starting to get warm. But fortuitously, even before we reached the road split about four miles in, a strong, cold wind started up. To our overwhelming relief and great pleasure, the wind lasted throughout the weekend, completely reversing our mental outlook and making it a most pleasurable trip. This didn't lessen the physical challenges, of course, but made them tolerable.

It took four and a half hours to reach Chokecherry Spring, which was running enough to replenish our canteens, but not enough to support the usual colony of bullfrogs which provide free evening concerts. After lunch we climbed Samon (6227'), making for a long 12-hour day. Future parties should note that the route is becoming overgrown badly; we did not do any clipping. We slept at Chokecherry, and decided to make that our base camp rather than continuing to the saddle or Alamar camp further on.

Saturday we climbed Big Pine Mtn (6800'), West Big Pine (6490') and Madulce Pk (6536') and returned to Chokecherry Spring for another 12-hour day. The breeze spurred us on, and when we suffered a few moments of heat, as from Alamar to the saddle, and on the west side of the ridge out to Madulce, we realized how lucky we were for the "usual" weather we were experiencing.

Bear tracks were ubiquitous throughout the area, but none of us could remember having had any trouble with them. Nevertheless, two or three cautious individuals hung their food in sacks from the trees. The rest of us just left our packs on the ground. Apparently the bears are getting camper wise. When we returned from Madulce, one of the hanging bags had been ripped open and the contents spilled, sampled but not eaten. But since none of the packs was touched, it is not clear what lessons the bears are learning!

All that was left on Sunday was to hike out, and all of us reached the cars well before lunch. Participants besides those mentioned were: Dorothy Danziger, Harvey Ganz, Bill Hauser, Virgil Popescu, Chuck Sale, and Maggie Wilson.


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