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Sam Fink Peak

23 May 1999

By: Erik Siering

Location is everything. This is especially so with the otherwise undistinguished Pt 7339, which has been proposed within the HPS as "Sam Fink Peak." The peripheral charms of this isolated bump do outweigh its lack of stature or prominence. The locale and outstanding views make this is a compelling destination. The designation is entirely appropriate in memory of the much-beloved departed HPS member Sam Fink, who was so associated with the Desert Divide area. It merits a scheduled exploratory hike.

On a rare weekend that I wasn't abusing my body to the rigors of the Sierra or the desert, I took the opportunity to evaluate this peak on a morning dayhike from Humber Park in Idyllwild. It had stormed Saturday, so I departed at daybreak on Sunday in solitude. I quickly crested the Devils Slide Trail at Saddle Junction. The route continues northeast, a long four miles, on signed trail to Laws Junction and Caramba Camp. The trail drops 400 feet in the two miles to Laws Junction, and another 1000 feet to Caramba Camp. Great exercise on the return. The trail contours around several pleasant meadows and crosses good water en route, including the ample Willow Creek.

Beyond Laws Junction, Tahquitz Ridge recedes on the right. The desert dropoff and Pt 7339 become apparent in the distance. The southwest face of the formation is attractive with appealing sheer rock. However, the easy hiking route follows the gentler northwest slopes now hidden from view.

Caramba Camp is a lovely wooded campsite, situated alongside the briskly flowing upper Tahquitz Creek. Two groups were camped here. A side trip downstream of a hundred yards is worthwhile to experience the ample swimming holes at the top and base of a waterfall. This is reached by steep scrambles on either side of creek. A sign on the distant shore warns of the impassable waterfall below.

The summit of Pt 7339 is attained by crossing the creek and following the defined trail several hundred feet up to Caramba Overlook. This is a campsite with a large fire ring, on a bench that has a breathtaking desert vista of Tahquitz Canyon, Palm Springs and Cathedral City below. Head up the slope from here, at times on an old faint use trail with some recent tracks, and ridiculously over-ducked. Aim high on the shoulder of the first of two bumps; the objective is the saddle between them. Trending to the left avoids steep terrain and minimizes noisome brush. Pass through the saddle, an old burn area, to the further, higher bump. A week-old register can, placed by Tom Hill, is situated in the rock outcropping. Detached from the plateau, the top has great views of the San Jacinto area, Tahquitz Ridge, and most appropriately, the Desert Divide. Do this hike on a clear day.

I descended and returned on trail the same way. Thunderclouds developed overhead as I passed through Saddle Junction. I literally had to wade through the many descending clusters of trudging Boy Scout backpackers to reach Humber Park by 11:00.

Statistics: 14 miles and 4000 feet gain round-trip, class 1. A well-paced 5 hours.

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