Scodie Mountain, Heald Peak, Nicolls Peak
13-14 October 2001
By: Maggie Wilson and some old guy
Leaders: George Wysup, Pete Yamagata and Maggie Wilson
Fourteen people, including leaders, met at the Walker Pass Campground at 10:00 a.m. on a warm Saturday morning to bag Scodie and celebrate 100 years of SC outings. Joining us for the celebration were several hiking masters/veterans - Paul Lipsohn, Duane McRuer, Gene Mauk and Darryl Kuhns. After a quick powwow wherein George introduced everyone in the group - how does this senior citizen remember all of their names? - we were off. We followed a slightly modified HPS route 1 generally hiking south on the Canebrake creek bed but taking the west fork through section 30 on the Walker Pass topo, and then climbing east, then southeast up to the summit. Duane and Gene were carefully marking the route with GPS waypoints (they had witnessed George's navigation before). We arrived on the top of Scodie at 2:26 pm, not to be confused with 2:30 pm. On the way out, George led us back to bump 7040+, where Gene found his misplaced compass, and we returned to the campground via essentially the same route. The entire hike, with stops, took 7 hours, 36 minutes. After determining that all 14 safely arrived back at the campground, everyone disbursed. Paul Lipsohn and David Michels headed back to greater (than what?) Los Angeles, Pete Yamagata drove back to his home in Sacramento, Darryl Kuhns returned to his home in Reno, Ron Zappen slept in his van at the campground, Duane McRuer & Gene Mauk chose the quiet of the desert to pitch a tent, and several of us - Keith & Sandy Burnside, Zobeida Molina, John Connelly, Joe Whyte, George and moi - roughed it in motels in Ridgecrest and Kernville.
It was unfortunate that Paul Lipsohn was not up to par and couldn't join us the next day atop Heald Peak. Paul spearheaded a complicated and successful drive to convince the US Board on Geographic Names to give the name "Heald" to a remote high point (6901') in the Sequoia National Forest in Kern County. The peak is, of course, named in honor of Weldon Heald, noted author, conservationist, and founder of HPS. Paul is also the originator of a large percentage of the climbing routes in the HPS guides. On the hike to Scodie, we did manage to pick Paul's brain about the April 27, 1974 exploratory trip to Heald on which a group of some 65 hikers erected a small honorary monument. The group, after assaulting the summit from the brushy south side, combined the several small quantities of cement, sand, water, and a ceremonial rock from the Chiricahua Mts in Arizona in a plastic form to create the cubic piece of concrete in which they fastened the bronze plaque. Copies of the plaque were given to Mrs. Heald and to the Angeles Chapter office for display.
At o'crack hundred on Sunday morning, ten of us from the previous day, plus one, met to climb Heald and Nicolls. The plus one was Laura Joseph. Two returnees, Duane McRuer and Gene Mauk, were also participants on the famous 1974 hike.
Starting about 7:30 a.m., George led the gang up a wash to the saddle between the two peaks. This took us about an hour. From there, we maneuvered south-southwest through brush and around several bumps to get us to Heald, closely following the standard HPS route which includes Nicolls Peak. The route finding was simplified by boot prints and pole marks left by the Mars Bonfire party of 9 nighthawks on the previous day. Leading this peak was as difficult as following an elephant path. Thanks, Mars! At about 11:45 a.m., we were admiring the Weldon Heald plaque while eating special extra-chocolate cookies made by Laura "Mrs. Fields" Joseph. After lunch we retraced our route back to the saddle and noted there was sufficient daylight to take in the view from atop Nicolls if we didn't waste too much time.
A tiring group slogged and followed a somewhat ducked route northerly up the main gully 1000' to the correct - southernmost - summit of Nicolls. There is said to be a register on the competing rock pile to the north, but no one checked. We arrived there about 4:30 p.m. To avoid hiking in the dark, we took a brief break, then made a beeline, shortcutting the saddle, to the cars. No headlamps required. The entire outing took 10 hours, 48 minutes.
The adventure began when we were driving out the dirt roads in the dark. Any fool can drive back whence they came, right? After missing a critical turn, a few of us ended up in the bottom of a sandy wash. This wash route is possible with 4WDs in daylight, but such was not our case. For about 15 minutes it looked like my truck was going to spend the night in the desert. My four-wheel drive would not engage, and the tires kept digging deeper into the sand. So what if my Explorer has 195,000 miles on it. Little did my passenger, Zobeida Molina, know that she was on Ms. Toad's Wild Ride! Finally, the hubs connected and my old truck climbed out of the wash only to meet several hikers hovering around Joe Whyte's 2WD truck. A large but stealthy rock had attacked and jammed his running board into his back tire. No problem. We all stood around and watched 105 lb Laura "Muscle Mama" Joseph muscle the running board away from the tire. Very impressive! Still not sure if it was safe to drive on the dirt roads, Keith Burnside whipped out his handy Taiwanese tool set and removed the running board. While all of this was going on, someone figured the correct route out. This correct road fork (3.0 mile from hwy 178) is difficult to spot in the dark. The mileage math is further complicated by nearby junctions being only 0.1 mile apart. With all vehicles mobile again, we caravanned to Hwy 178 and headed home.
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