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Combs Peak, Beauty Peak, Iron Spring Mountain

10-11 December 1966

By: Bob Hawthorne

Leader: Bob Hawthorne
Asst.: John Nienhuis

The hike to Combs Peak was shortened by more than eight miles by obtaining permission of the new area owners, The Orange Empire Council B.S.A. to use their road. We certainly appreciated this favor, as on a previous hike we went a roundabout way to avoid private property. Some might have appreciated the longer hike: more exercise, a beautiful valley; but then we would not have had time to visit the Lost Valley Scout Camp where we were graciously shown about by the Scout Ranger. Quite a welcome after, "No, we don't want anybody in there," before the Scouts took over.

Beauty Peak and Iron Springs Mountain are privately owned and we are grateful to the owners, the Mitchells, for allowing us over their property. Usually gates are locked. All of us enjoyed seeing the old Pawnee Tungsten Mine; most of us reached the two summits and all were back to the cars by 4 p.m.

The remoteness of the peaks, the primitive roads, the changes at Lost Valley, the ruins of the mine, the original stage station near our camp, all tend to arouse one's awareness of the changes taking place in Southern California. The mountains are the same; the stage station under the large oaks is about the same; Oak Grove Campground where dusty travelers enjoyed the first shade after crossing the desert is much the same, still enjoyed by dusty hikers. Change the gas pumps to hitching posts, the pavement to the dusty roads we used to the peaks, and trade the hundreds of cars now on the highway for the two stagecoaches a week making their 25-day run from Missouri up Aguanga Valley and on to San Francisco and we have a picture of the business centers 108 years ago. Several of those present on the hike had grandparents living at that time. Could they have believe that those fine horses and coaches would be replaced in less than 50 years by steam and electricity? Who would have believed 50 years ago that the "big red cars" would soon be replaced by gasoline and freeways?

Considering the changes in the last 100 years, we can only wonder what will happen in the next hundred. Will we still have camp spots like Oak Grove? Will we still have mountains to climb? Will our peaks be privately owned with armed guards to keep us off, or will more of them be publicly or semi-publicly owned like Lost Valley? That depends on what we as Sierra Club Members are doing and what we continue to do.

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