Sat, Dec 14, 2019
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.
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.
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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