Peak 1,173ft P300
Las Posas Hills East P300
Triunfo BM 2x P300
Triunfo Lookout 2x P500

Sat, Dec 14, 2019

With: Scott Barnes
Barbara Lilley

Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPX Profile
Triunfo BM previously climbed Mon, Apr 2, 2018
Triunfo Lookout previously climbed Sun, Apr 1, 2018


It had been few months since I had first hiked with Barbara Lilley to Chatsworth Peak back in October, and I was back for a second time on my way home from my December desert roadtrip. Her longtime partner Gordon MacLeod had passed quietly in November, aged 95. I'd felt saddened and a bit privileged by the news since Barbara had sent me an email personally regarding it. That Barbara is still out hiking stuff at 90yrs of age is both amazing and a reminder that an era is drawing to a close. If you've seen the movie Dirtbag: The Legend of Fred Beckey, you'll get the idea. Like Fred, Barbara still spends as much time as she can hiking, perhaps not entirely acknowledging the limitations her age is placing on her. She's been doing this so long that she hardly seems to know what else to do. She still drives though not nearly as freely as she did only a few year ago, and appreciates when others offer to help get her to new summits, even if to local peaks near her home in Simi Valley. I'd been trying to nurture a friendship with her to get her to open up about her life, to save and record some of her extensive history. Scott, Iris and Laura have been doing likewise, a concerted effort that we hoped might allow us to do a presentation at the 2020 DPS banquet about her and Gordon's adventures. Alas, she is quite private and humble, adamnant that no such thing is to be allowed. So I will have to table that idea for the time being, at least happy that she shared her climbing records with us so that they could be saved online for the community at large. In the meantime, I'm trying to take the opportunity to spend some time with her whenever I get the chance on my way through the Southland.

Peak 1,173ft

I was to meet her at her home at 9:15a, so I figured I might get in a hike or two to some nearby summits. Peak 1,173ft is almost 3mi each way from the Hill Canyon TH near Moorpark where I had spent the night. It would be a bit much for Barbara to manage (otherwise I might have suggested this one), but figured I could get it done before it was time to meet up with her. This large OSP sits adjacent and west of the Wildwood Regional Park where I'd hiked earlier in the year, not realizing at the time that there was this adjacent parcel with another summit. There are several old ranch roads and a utility road that serve as the main trail arteries with a number of single track trails forking off at various points. The park is used extensively by cyclists and the single tracks were built for their purpose, with numerous switchbacks and rounded turns at the corners. It would be funny to listen to Barbara complain about the cyclists on our hike later, unhappy with how they leave a rounded depression in the middle of the trail, but really it seems a good compromise to allow multiple uses of the area.

Starting by 6:20a as the overcast sky was just starting to grow light, I spent a little over an hour to make my way up to the summit. I followed the Hill Canyon Trail to a junction for the Western Plateau, and then a single track climbing to the saddle between Peak 1,173ft to the west and Elliot Peak to the east. There were a few trail runners out early, dog walkers and cyclists starting later as I was coming down. There are two summits to Peak 1,173ft, the slightly lower east summit with a small telecom installation and the higher, unadorned western summit. There is a short bit of trivial off-trail required to reach the highpoint where I found myself devoid of views in a fog. There was a large ammo box that took some effort to open. It had been engulfed in the fire that swept over the summit in 2018, melting the rubber seal and gluing the lid shut. Upon opening it, perhaps the first time since the fire, I found the contents, probably a geocache, a small blob of melted plastic stuck to the bottom. Short on time, I didn't bother to visit unofficially named Elliot Peak since it lacked any significant prominence, but I might consider a future visit on a sunnier day.

La Posas Hills East

I was back to the jeep a little earlier than expected, so had some time for this short drive up. Located on the north side of Santa Rosa Valley, Las Posas Hills are mostly covered in upscale rural homes, horses welcome but not so much cattle or chickens. The highpoint is found at or near a large water tower that sits behind a formidable fence. One can go under or over it to reach the interior of the utility property, but in easy view of surrounding neighbors. Not much to recommend this one.

Triunfo BM - Triunfo Lookout

Barbara had picked out a trio of summits in the Santa Monica Mtns to visit, overly ambitious I thought, though we did manage two of them. Scott and I met her at the assigned time at her condo complex, then drove all together in the jeep for the 40min drive. I had climbed these summits some years ago, so it was easy to pull up my reports for a refresher and then plug in the starting points to Google Maps before heading off. Barbara was healthy and lively today and we enjoyed her company very much. Triunfo BM was the tougher of the two because the Backbone Trail that we used skirts below the summit on the south side. An old firebreak goes over the summit east to west, not too brushy but steep. We used the longer route up the east side on the ascent because the west side looked too steep for our liking. The east side was still somewhat steep, but with some care we managed to get Barbara up without incident. Going down was another story. Somehow, we thought since we'd managed the east side, maybe the west side wouldn't be so bad. It was a little terrifying for all of us, perhaps more so for Scott and I feeling ultra responsible for her safety. We followed right next to her as best we could, inches away to catch her should she slip or fall. I was often facing backwards while downclimbing ahead of her, slipping and falling several times on my own. We caught a few slips well enough until - the Fall. I had gotten a bit ahead and turned to see Barbara suddenly lurch forward, angling headfirst down the slope. Right at her side, Scott made a lunging grab around her waist to pull her back and nearly succeeded. He stopped her momentum going forward, but with their centers of gravity off-kilter, they then continued to the ground together. Scott took the brunt of the fall but Barbara came down with a crash too. I immediately ran up to her to hold her head off the ground and try to get her to stay put while we checked for any serious injury. She would have none of that. She scrambled to her feet far faster than I could check her over, and once standing, the only injury we could find was a small scrape to her wrist. "Oh I don't know what I tripped on!" showed her concern was more over embarassment than any possible injury. Almost like she considered it extremely unlikely that it could be more serious. We dodged a bullet on that one and were terribly relieved when we finally got off the firebreak and back down to the flatter trail. How would we explain what we were doing to the emergency crew that might have been called? I could see the district attorney pressing charges for elder abuse and reckless endangerment. The castigation of the climbing community as the idiots that Broke Barbara Lilley. My wife, asking incredulously, "What were you thinking?!" Luckily that all passed as just rambling thoughts of an over-active imagination and we resumed our hike without further incident. We spent 2hr20min on the hike, returning to the jeep by 12:20p.

I thought Barbara would have had enough, but she was up for the second, easier hike to Triunfo Lookout. We moved the car less than a mile west on Yerba Buena Rd, utilizing a good trail that starts up from a saddle on the northeast side before circling around the west and south sides, all trail, taking an hour and a quarter to reach the top. The weather had improved since the start of the first hike and we were now treated to nice views to Sandstone Peak, the highpoint of the range to the northwest, and some coastal views with the Pacific Ocean visible through the clouds. The summit has a white, concrete structure atop it, purpose unknown, though it may have been the base for the lookout that once stood here (seems doubtful, though). After a rest and taking in the views, we descended back down the same way in about 40min. Barbara was sufficiently exercised at this time and was happy to leave the third peak for another time. We drove her back to Simi Valley where we lunched at the Black Bear Diner for a second time. I had been impressed with her appetite that first time, but more so today - she didn't order off the Seniors' Menu today and ate everything on her plate nearly as greedily as Scott and myself. It was a nice finish to a very nice roadtrip and after dropping her and Scott off, I headed to Santa Barbara to pick up my daughter and then on to San Jose. I would have a short two days to turnaround and head off to Hawaii with the family...

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