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Pleasant View Ridge and Buckhorn Flats (and Will Thrall Peak)

5 April 1942

By: Fred Johnson and Jack Bascom

From an e-mail to Karen Leverich from Fred Johnson: I've noted the interesting old hike reports you've been gathering -- fine additions to the archives. I have mailed you two accounts -- one from the leader Jack Bascom and the other from me -- of the April 1942 hike to Pleasant View Ridge and Buckhorn Flats. These accounts, submitted by Jack, appeared around 1990 in the newsletter of the East San Gabriel Valley Group, as well as in The Lookout sometime afterwards, thanks to Joe Young.

As you know the idea for the Hundred Peaks Section was envisioned by Weldon Heald around 1940 and over the next few years attracted a small but dedicated group of supporters like Jack. I've always been surprised that it took so long for the 100 Peakers to become formalized as a Section.

From the letter Fred Johnson enclosed with the trip reports: I met Jack Bascom on a cold, windy April 5, 1942, on a hike he led to Pleasant View Ridge and Buckhorn Flats. As a 14-year old Sierra Club neophyte, I had a great time. Jack and I hit it off well on the trail that day, and he fired my enthusiasm for lifelong peakbagging.

By the time we did Pine Mountain #1 and Dawson Peak in mid-1946, the 100 Peaks fever was running high, and Weldon Heald had just become the first to climb 100 of the 192 peaks on the 100 Peaks List which he had devised. In 1947 Jack Climbed Marion Mountain for his 100th peak and became the third HPS emblem holder (after Weldon and Sam Fink).

I last hiked with Jack in August 1947 when we climbed Mt. Barnard (then a Sierra 14,000-er) with Niles and Louise Werner, Freda Walbrecht and several other young friends of mine. We were then out of touch for nearly 40 years until the mid-1980s, when I occasionally visited Southern California from Berkeley to resume my long dormant HPS activity. Since then I've had some grand visits with Jack in Glendora, and we corresponded and talked frequently by phone, reminiscing about the "good old days" with the 100 Peaks gang and marvelling at the unbelievable success Weldon Heald's 100 Peaks Idea has had in bringing people to the mountains and, in some cases, even shaping their lives. I salute my good friend Jack and thank him for his encouragement to become a player in the great HPS "game" from its inception.

Introduction to the two trip reports by Jack Bascom: In response to several requests for Sierra Club items of historical interest, I am sending two versions of a 1942 Sierra Club hike to Pleasant View Ridge and the Schedule write-up. I met Fred Johnson on that hike and after a few years' interruption by a war, we had several enjoyable peak bagging trips together. Then, in 1946 or 1947, he went east to college and I lost track of him. Recently, we have renewed acquaintances and I have found that he is living the Bay area, is retired and occasionally comes to Southern California to continue with his 100 peak bagging. He has sent me his list of peaks and I noted that his second peak was Pleasant View Ridge, April 5, 1942. I sent him a write-up of my recollections of that hike and to my surprise, he sent me a write-up that he had written just after the hike. With his permission, I enclose his interesting account. One thing we agree on, it was a cold and miserable day. I have been to Pleasant View Ridge three other times and on those occasions, I found it very pleasant.

Pleasant View Ridge and Buckhorn Flats
Sunday, April 5, 1942
by Fred Johnson

It had rained Friday and it had been gloomy Saturday, so I was afraid that maybe I wouldn't be able to go that Sunday to Pleasant View Ridge. Besides the weather's being bad, I had not been able to get any transportation through Beatrice Cannon and it looked as though I wouldn't get any at all. However, the leader, Jack Bascom, was able to get me transportation with Doris Coble at the last minute. Although it was cloudy Sunday morning, I took the street car to Pasadena, where Doris Coble met me. We then went up the Angeles Crest Highway to Buckhorn Flats, which we missed at first. The sky was very forbidding and we didn't know whether we would have a snow fall before we got back or not. Anyway, about twelve of us started out about 10:00 over a good trail which meandered all over nowhere to Pleasant View Ridge. After about six miles most of the group started to fall behind, but the rest of us went on another mile or so to the end of our hike on a saddle on the ridge. It was really cold and we nearly froze to death, it seemed. After having had a bite to eat, Henry Greenhood and I went up to Thrall Peak (7978'), a short distance from where we ate, to take a couple of pictures. It was so darn cold that we could only take one picture and then our hands went numb. About 1:00 we started back down, meeting the rest of the group a mile or two down the trail. We continued back to the cars along the same trail, which got pretty monotonous, and got back to Buckhorn Flats without running into any rain or snow. It did rain rather hard coming back down Angeles Crest, but it was sunny in the city.

I don't see why they call it Pleasant View Ridge; we sure got a lousy view. It was a cold and monotonous hike, but I enjoyed it nevertheless, as I have every Sierra Club trip.

A Sierra Club Hike to Pleasant View Ridge
Easter Sunday - April 5, 1942
by Jack Bascom

I was scheduled to be Assistant Leader on a hike to Pleasant View Ridge. Weldon Heald, the leader, called a few days before to say he couldn't make the hike. Would I please sub for him? In those days, that meant be both leader and assistant leader. I had a call from a lad named "Fred" who wanted to know if he was old enough and had sufficient experience for the hike. After hearing his record of climbs of Baldy, etc. I assured him that he would have no trouble with this hike. After I hung up the phone, I said to myself, "With his experience, I should have asked him to lead the hike."

I worried about the river crossing, a mile and a half below Buckhorn. In the springtime, after the snow melts, the river can be high and be a problem. So, I left home very early, ran down to the crossing and finding some logs, constructed a bridge. Then I hurried back and met the others. I said nothing about the bridge and decided I would surprise them with it as we crossed the river. When we reached the crossing, I proudly went to the bridge, while the others boulder hopped across. Feeling like a chicken, I kept quiet about building the bridge.

It was a cold, cloudy day and it became colder as we approached the top. Snow was imminent and visibility was near zero. Believe it or not, I had carried along a popcorn popper and stove in my pack. Well, they only added about 10 pounds and I thought it would be nice to have popcorn while looking at Mt. Whitney, Telescope Pk., Cuyamaca and San Clemente Island, as described in Schedule. However, it was so cold, I couldn't take my hands out of my pockets, so, I never displayed or mentioned the popper.

While I was walking about to keep from freezing, the troops decided to leave and left without saying good-bye. When I saw them disappearing from sight down the trail, I ran after them yelling, "Wait for me, I'm the leader. You can't go without me." To catch them, I went over Will Thrall Pk. and down a firebreak on the east side, cutting them off at Burkhart Saddle. I counted them and found that one was missing. I went back to the top, where I found the missing person wandering about in the fog, unperturbed. He had found some animal nests that had intrigued him. Were we ready to leave? I told him that the others had already left to beat the impending snow storm. Together, we walked out to the cars. Luckily, there was no rain or snow but it was very cold. The Schedule said it was 14 miles, but for the trail sweep it was closer to 20.

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