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Thorn Point, Antimony Peak, Tecuya Mountain

27 September 2001

By: Karen Isaacson Leverich

Sandy Burnside's doctor told her it was OK for her to resume "light hiking". If this is her definition of light, remind me to be otherwise engaged when she feels fit enough for regular hiking. Whew! Those last 500' of elevation gain on our third peak, I wasn't sure whether I had the stamina to make it or not...

But even though I didn't really "need" these peaks, it was easy convincing myself to join George, Sandy, Laura Joseph, and Zobeida Molina for a day of hiking. These were all mountains in "my" backyard. I think Thorn Point is one of the prettiest hikes on the list; Antimony had been my first HPS peak and I was curious if it had become an easier hike in the intervening months; and Tecuya we were going to actually hike, none of that wimpy drive up stuff for us!

News flash: summer is over! It was actually chilly in the Thorn Meadow Campground as we donned our boots. George suggested I lead the first bit, since I'd been here not that long ago on a scheduled hike with Tom Hill and Ray Soucy. Surprise, all that brush is still there! At least it's not thorny brush, we pushed right through it, following the trail up the gently sloping, shaded canyon, grumpily wondering when the sun would clear the ridge and warm us up a bit (little realizing that later in the day, we'd be wishing it were cooler).

Once we were out of the canyon and climbing the ridge, it warmed up enough I wanted to get rid of my gloves. Sandy, George, and I paused briefly to reorganize, Laura and Zobeida powered on. With a good trail to follow, who needs a formal leader? We'd find them on the top (not to mention seeing them numerous times on the switchback just above ours...)

After a pleasant stay, signing the register, discussing future plans (Zobeida wants to hike the Grand Canyon, rim to rim and back, all in less than 24 hours -- it hurts just to think about it!), we headed back down. Oddly enough, or not so oddly, the trip back was shorter -- we skipped many of the switchbacks to go directly down the ridge when the ridge was sufficiently low angle.

Next stop, Antimony Peak. I bored everyone along with the way with the anecdote of how Brian and I got hooked on HPS. I may as well bore the rest of you now. It goes like this. Before we discovered peaks, we went hiking most every day. But hiking the same trails over and over again was getting a little boring, so we were looking for variety. I'd noticed the turn off in Cuddy Valley to the West Tecuya Mountain Road, promising interesting destinations like Pleito Creek 4x4 Camp and Cherry Creek 4x4 Camp etc., so suggested we hike in and out to the various camps, one per day. The first day (and as things worked out, the last), we opted for a left hand rule -- at each fork, we'd take the left one. Four and half miles in we ran out of road, but were at a trailhead we'd never known about before. Unfortunately, we were out of water, so were way overdue to turn back, no time just then to figure out where the trail went.

Back at home, I got out the USGS quad for the area, and quickly realized that we'd hiked in to the Antimony Peak trailhead. Ooooh, but that sounded interesting! Much better than hiking the road to the trailhead, we could hike the trail to the peak! So the next day, we hopped in the Cherokee and drove (rather than walked) those same 4.5 miles, then headed down the trail. It was a pleasant green wooded walk for awhile, but then we were at this saddle, with the rocky face of the peak rising intimidatingly over our heads. Well, we stumbled up those rocky switchbacks, resting frequently, collecting (and discarding) a few ticks along the way, marveling over the bicycle tracks that we could make out whenever there was ground instead of dirt (someone really rode a bike up this thing? wow!), eventually arriving at the saddle on top. Then cross country (our first!) to the peak, totally oblivious to ducks and use trail. But the HPS can in the cinderblock couldn't be missed. We opened it up, found registers back to the 1960s, not to mention coupons for joining HPS. What fun! Certainly more fun than slogging up and down dirt roads. Sign us up! The rest, I guess, is history.

So anyhow, back to modern day. (The anecdote above was back on April 29th, 2001...) It was a warmer day, but dryer -- no ticks, no nice green grass. But somehow there seemed to be fewer switchbacks, and they weren't as steep, and the rocks weren't as rocky. Someone reengineered this peak sometime in the past several months to be kinder and gentler. The old registers aren't there any more, though: there's an note dated mid-August in the current register from Hugh Blanchard (I think Hugh Blanchard!) -- he's retrieved them and has them safely archived. The hike to Antimony isn't all that pleasant, but the peak is a pretty one. (Webmaster note: Hugh Blanchard handed the registers on to Tom Hill, who in turn delivered them to Karen Isaacson Leverich, who still has them, but who will probably return them to the peak after photographing them.)

For our next peak, we headed into the bustling metropolis of Frazier Park (well, it's "the city" if you live out in the boonies like Brian and I do, with multiple gas stations, restaurants, a pharmacy, two hardware stores, etc.), to the trailhead for Tecuya. I've done this peak three times already, once as a drive up, twice as almost a drive up (follow the drive up route until too timid to proceed, then get out and walk the rest of the way), but never as a Real Hike. So rather than driving up to the ridge via the Scott Russell Road, we started at the bottom, ascended part way on a motorcycle trail (lots of deep dust, blech!) and then followed a use trail (apparently also used by some of the braver bikers) up a ridge to the summit. A pathfinder, hurrah!

And if I hadn't been feeling a bit limp by this time of the day (did I say it was hot and we'd already done a fair bit of elevation gain on two other peaks?), the ascent of the ridge would have been a very inviting hike, with pleasing groves of oak trees. Interesting that this is a south facing ridge, yet essentially brush free. After a break on top, and signing the register, we headed back down the ridge. Gee, going downhill is much less work, at least on stable terrain. This time, I could appreciate the woods. Laura and Zobeida and George were off in a flash, Sandy and I (and Sandy's to-be-coddled ankle) set a slower pace. By the time we overtook the others at the car, it was late in the day, the sun was gone, the temperatures had dropped, no one was griping about the heat anymore.

Another successful day. A pathfinder on Tecuya for Sandy and me; a drive up hiked for Laura and Zobeida; several peaks closer to his next list finish for George. And in any case, a lot of fun miles and good hikes with interesting people. Absolutely the best thing I've done this year was to stumble up Antimony and discovered HPS!

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