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McKinley Mountain, San Rafael Mountain, Santa Cruz Peak, Cachuma Mountain

11-12 April 1970

By: Bob Van Allen

Leaders: Bob Van Allen, Eldon Burgess

Although the leaders had given permission to a larger number of people, 15 showed up at the appointed place and time. After verifying that all had the required amount of water (minimum 1 gal.) and no stoves, we started the trek to camp. We had planned to cache one quart of water per person at Hells Half Acre for the trip out on Sunday. In order to find a reasonable spot to leave the water we had to proceed to the saddle at 4400' approx 5.8 mi. from Cachuma Saddle. Hells Half Acre is no more -- at least not the way many of us remember it. All the trees have been cut down and the entire area bulldozed. We took our only break of the morning at 4400' saddle to cache the water and have a second breakfast - or early lunch. Camp was at the saddle between McKinley and San Rafael rather than Cold Spring and everyone was in before noon.

After picking our individual sites we settled down to a leisurely lunch. Naturally the best way to settle lunch was to climb McKinley so -- off we went accompanied by a healthy wind which had been with us all morning. It appears that the old WW II aircraft spotters shack on the summit is suffering more from vandalism than it is from the elements. It was necessary to place a new register. We returned to camp - refilled our canteens and left for San Rafael. The trail to San Rafael is in excellent condition and provides an easy route through an area that would be extremely difficult otherwise.

There is something about a trip that doesn't have a campfire -- like what do you do after supper? Well we did everything from recount old trips to plan new ones. If laughter helps digestion, no one on this trip had any problem. A great deal of time was spent in evaluating what others had eaten and what would be brought on the next trip - whether you can cook or not. Of course planning food was more enjoyable considering that this was a cold trip. It was obvious that two of the participants own stock in American Can.

The wind stayed with us most of the night but all was calm when the leader gently awoke everyone at 4:45. The appropriate call at that time is an imitation of a wounded Aardvark in heat. With no cooking, everyone ate and camp was almost 100% packed when we left for Santa Cruz at 5:25. The early start was appreciated as the day began to warm rapidly. We were on Santa Cruz about 7:40 and, after more eating, left for camp at 8:20. Arriving at camp at 10:25 it seemed like the day was mostly gone. After another food break (I'm not sure whether we did more eating or hiking on this trip) we began the 9 mi. trip to the cars.

It didn't take long to get to the 4400' saddle and our reserve water. Spirits were high and most everyone felt so good we decided to climb Cachuma Mtn. on the way out. It's under 5000' and only 400' or so gain from the road and will never be on any list [Webmaster note: see The Great Lower Peaks List] - but - it made a nice finish to a strenuous trip for about 2/3 of the group. Total both days about 35 miles and 8000' gain.

All were out to the cars by 3 p.m. It was an excellent group of people. From many points of view this was one of the most enjoyable trips I have ever led. I hope all our HPS trips in the future are as successful as this one. Right crew? Grrr!

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