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Thorn Point, San Guillermo Mountain

9 September 2001

By: Karen Isaacson Leverich

Leaders: Tom Hill and Ray Soucy

At last, an HPS hike in my neighborhood! Even though Brian and I had hiked to Thorn Point before, it's such a lovely peak, how could we resist? And although this hike has the potential to be hot, dusty, and dry, the weather cooperated -- not too warm, not too breezy, not too still, not a single cloud in the sky.

In addition to our leaders Tom Hill and Ray Soucy, fifteen hikers gathered last Sunday to visit Thorn Point

and incidentally to hunt for fossils: Pat Arredondo, Bob Beach, Winnette Butler, Kathy Cheever, Doris Duval, Billy 'Goat' Gaskill, Barbara Guerin, Sharon Hechler, Ginny Heringer, Brian and Karen Leverich, Edith Liu, Mark Mitchell, Ingeborg Prochazka, and Leo Rosario.

When Brian and I did this hike early in June, the road had been closed at the turn off to the Thorn Meadows campground. We walked in to the trailhead, encountering two muddy fords along the way. This time, the road was open and dry, in lovely shape (so if you missed the hike, hop in your car and go do it now!). The bat Brian spooked in the outhouse last June seems to have moved on in the interim. At least, if anyone encountered it, no one commented.

Another thing I remembered from June was a lot of brush (not thorny or pointy, heh!) along the trail, occasionally making it a minor puzzle to find the route. So I was pleased when Tom promised us a well trimmed trail. Silly me, I need to stop being so credulous. All the brush I remembered was there, and a bit more. (Funny how that happens with a few months to grow, huh?) But it still wasn't thorny, and ticks don't seem to be an issue this time of the year, at least not in that vicinity, so it added a kind of nice "exploring the wilderness" feel to the start of the hike, pushing our way through the jungle.

This late in the year, there weren't a lot of flowers. There were some berries -- Ginny suggested that though edible, we might want to wait until home to nibble on them, as they were reputed to have laxative properties. And perhaps because of hunting season, or maybe because there were 17 of us having a somewhat noisy good time, we didn't see a lot of wildlife, although the folk in the first car on the drive in did see some deer.

What did we see? Well, after we started switchbacking up the ridge, there were spectacular views of sandstone cliffs. And Tom, Sharon, and Leo, perhaps because they were at the front of the column, discovered an amazing variety of interesting ... stuff ... : fossilized alligators, fossilized ants, fossilized Gatorade (fossilized Gatorade?!?), petrified wood (looked like ordinary deadfall to me), the thorny oak (all of three inches tall) after which the Point was named. What they didn't see, and what was pointed out to us by Mark and Ginny on the way back out, were a zillion fossilized seashells (quoting Tom here) "just above the 6000' level in heavily eroded sedimentary rock lying on and alongside the trail (a tree limb has fallen onto the trail here and makes a good temporary spot marker)."

This was an important peak. For Billy 'Goat' Gaskill, it was his 100th. And for Barbara Guerin and Edith Liu, it's one of the very very few that remain before they finish the list. The group posed below the lookout, with Barbara and Edith flanking Billy:

Congratulations, Billy! (And you sure picked a nicer peak than I did for hitting 100. No cholla on Thorn Point, so far as I know! Though maybe there was some fossilized cholla? I forget...)

The Thorn Point Lookout itself is a real treasure. Although it's not been restored, and isn't manned by volunteers, it is unlocked. There's a note at the bottom by the cultural register the Forest Service has placed there, inviting one to look around, and to feel free to sweep the floor (there's a broom) while up there.

Several went up and checked it out. It was manned as recently as the late 1980s, by condor observers, and looks as if it were in use just yesterday. The phone

was fun, and someone attempted to order a pizza. (Dunno if that didn't work because they couldn't get a clean line, or if Domino's refuses to drive in that far.) The map for triangulating fires is a bit worn at the edges, but still there:

Someone really should clean up the old wood stove, though:

Back at the campground, several hikers headed for home, but ten of us went on to privately conquer San Guillermo: Tom Hill (leader), Pat Arredondo, Bob Beach, Winnette Butler, Sharon Hechler, Ginny Heringer, Brian and Karen Leverich, Ingeborg Prochazka, and Leo Rosario.

This is (in my humble opinion) a less attractive peak, and a less attractive hike, than Thorn Point. But hey, it's on the list! What better reason did we need? And the views are good.

One can head up a wash and cut over to a use trail on a ridge, or head through forest and hit the use trail, or beat through a bunch of brush on some other ridge entirely before crossing over a different wash and catching the use trail on the right ridge. Being motivated to avoid scrambling over boulders in the wash, we of course chose the third option. Ah, oak leaves down the back of ones shirt, there's no feeling quite like it! Just for variety, we followed the ducks on the way out, with Tom letting loose this less than reassuring evil laugh from time to time. Where would he take us next? We worried about that a bit, but of course he took us back to our cars, and it seemed to be quicker going down than up. (Well, doesn't it always?)

My first hikes led by Tom and Ray, but you can bet I'll be showing up for more. We definitely had a good time! Even if I never did manage to spot the fossilized alligators...

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