HPS BUMPS JAUNT: Topa Topa Bluff (6,367'), Chief Peak (5,560+'), Monrovia Peak (5,409'), Mt. Sally (5,408'), Mt. Mooney (5,840+'), Santiago Peak (5,687'), Modjeska Peak (5,496'), Iron Spring Mountain (5,755') Attempt, Gobblers Knob (6,955'), and Circle Mountain (6,880+')
May 16-21, 2001

My buddy Fred, having bad knees, would do some easy Hundred Peak Section listed summits, and I would climb some additional, nearby easy ones for my HPS list emblem. Bill would meet us down there to carpool for the rough approach roads, and camp with us.

I like a good 5,000' gain climb as a worthy peak. But some have devised a list whereby, with the same amount of gain, one could do and claim 10 peaks, say with an average of 500' gain apiece. In this spirit, I relented to lowering my standards, and to join this fun Southern California Sierra Club game.

Fred has a 4WD truck, which did most of the work. We would drive up thousands of feet of elevation, and then hike our average 500 feet of gain to the top. This is the way it's done by most in the Hundred Peaks Section, although obviously, one could pick far more strenuous routes.

Starting first in the Los Padres National Forest, we climbed Topa Topa Bluff, which has views into the Sespe Wilderness. Piedra Blanca, a white sandstone formation, is seen here in the photo to the left. I bagged a higher point nearby, to get another view and more exercise. We motored back west along the ridge dirt road, then Bill and I did Chief Peak, with a use trail and some rock scrambling near the top. This entailed some 400' gain.

Descending to Ojai, CA, we took Highway 126 east, and dined at the Valencia Town Center. This is a fabulous and trendy mall, with shops aplenty, mixed with office complexes and movie theatres.

Failing to find an open campground in the hills east of Highway 14, we took the first of three nights at a Motel 6.

Meeting Bill again in Glendora, we carpooled again and motored up the Shortcut Trail, which ascends to the start point for Monrovia Peak. This is another hike with several hundred feet of gain, with hazy views through nearby power lines. Continuing along this 4WD route, we came upon a lone mountain biker maybe intent on cycling this entire traverse to Crystal Lake from the Angeles Crest Highway.

Upon our reaching Highway 2, we found the start points, well described in the HPS Guide, for both Mt. Sally and Mt. Mooney. I did both these short climbs. Motoring back into town, we ate near Old Pasadena, then parted ways again.

Fred and I stayed in Corona to drive up the highest points, Friday the 18th, in the Santa Ana Mountains, and the highpoints of Orange County. Santiago and Modjeska Peaks are easy from the main divide road, which we accessed using Fred's 4WD from Interstate 15.

We checked a small, unlisted, Bald Peak (3,947'), to find a memorial on top.

Continuing south, we stopped briefly in Temecula, and I marveled at the massive new town being built here. Hundreds, maybe thousands of red-tiled roofs lay under a view of the distant Agua Tibia Wilderness mountains.

Finding one campground closed, we found another good one in Oak Grove. Camping amidst what is called, "red shank," we enjoyed a lazy, late afternoon, reading and relaxing.

We needed to get an early start for Iron Springs Mountain. Up at 5:30 a.m., we found the start point and followed the directions to get this summit. The brush had grown considerably since our climb of nearby Beauty Peak using the same initial route. I scouted and rescouted a route through the brush. I had not reviewed my photos from our 1993 climb using this approach, but found the top of a described gully and a saddle, stymied by more brush. Fred chose to climb up to a different point. We had been hiking for about three hours to have gone only about a mile or so.

We canned it, since I was now low on water, and it was getting warm. Back to the truck and drinks, we then headed back west to Temecula, then north on I-215 to a motel in San Bernardino. A well-needed wash and rest came first before a deluxe gourmet dinner at a nearby restaurant.

Our final day, we were up early again. Fred checked the Lytle Creek Road, which was closed after a point, then we motored toward Wrightwood to take a dirt road up to the PCT. Here we began our short 500' climb of Gobblers Knob, with good views of Old Baldy, snow-covered and in the sun. Fred had to take it slow, since steep slopes are hard on the knees.

I enjoyed signing in the register book, and Fred knows many of the entrants.

My last climb for this trip was a dirt road run up Circle Mountain, whereupon I took some 33 minutes, with just my cameras, for the 800' climb. Good views of the desert and the resort town of Wrightwood are seen enroute. Fred is kind enough to wait as I dash up these bumps for my 100th peak, or Emblem completion, planned by me for September or October this year. I now have some 17 more HPS peaks yet to be bagged for this.

Poppies were still in bloom along I-5, but the summer heat is coming. I thusly did nine listed peaks, with some 15 miles and 5,000' gain, total.