Leaders: Joe Young, Bobcat Thompson
Ten hikers met at the La Cañada carpool point at 7:20 am and then caravanned to the north end of Lake Avenue where we were met by an eleventh hiker. Skies were clear and temperatures moderate for the occasion.
We started hiking at 8:10 and arrived at the summit of Echo Mtn. at 9:10. We spotted two deer just off the trail en route. One hiker checked out at this point. After a fifteen minute rest on Echo we headed up the Castle Canyon trail, arriving at Inspiration Point at 10:15. Here another hiker checked out, and we decided to bag Mt Lowe on our way to Markham as (1) some hikers needed it and (2) if we didn't, we would arrive on the summit of Markham before noon, contrary to what I had promised several HPSers who were to join us on the summit by way of Eaton Saddle.
We headed up the trail to Lowe which contours around the south face of Lowe then joins the final summit trail just above the Lowe/Markham saddle. At this junction we encountered Lew Amack, whom I had not seen for about three years. Continuing on to the summit of Lowe, where we arrived at about 11:15, we were pleased to meet Jon Sheldon, his bride Ruth Feldon, and their 11 week old baby Benjamin Louis Sheldon.
At 11:30, we left the summit of Lowe and proceeded to the Lowe/Markham saddle, then up the ridge towards Markham. En route we met up with Sam Fink and Charlotte Kinzer, who had hiked from Eaton Saddle. After a brief conversation we restarted our scampering up the rocky ridge and arrived at the summit of Markham at noon meeting Wynne Benti and her dogs K. D. and Sidney.
We celebrated my completion of the requirements for the Pathfinder Award on the summit of Markham, as my previous ascents had been via Eaton Saddle. I felt honored by the presence of Sam Fink on this occasion. We took pictures of Sam, age 87, with Benjamin Sheldon, age 11 weeks. This was Benjamin's 12th ascent, Sam's 3,737th. And the beat goes on.
After an hour and a half of partying, we went our separate ways, with many returning to Eaton Saddle and eight of us returning to Lake Avenue. Our descent was rapid as we followed Bobcat down to the junction of the Sam Merrill Trail/Lowe Trail/Toll road, then down the road to the ridge which leads cross-country to the roadhead, a genuine Stag route. It was helpful to have Stag and his lovely bride Nami along to guide us. I led the group down the ridge and arrived at Lake Avenue at about 3:30 pm, spotting a large buck and a doe which crossed the road in full view.
Four of us reconvened at Pepe's of La Cañada for post hike revelry. Our efforts (for those of us who had hiked from Lake Avenue) had encompassed 4,000 feet of gain and perhaps 10 miles round trip. This had been a beautiful day for hiking in the San Gabriels, with air clear enough to see Santa Catalina Island, Boney Ridge, Griffith Park, and many other features. And I appreciated the presence of many of my hiking friends to help me celebrate this personally very important event for me.