Martinez Mountain, Sheep Peak
By: Fran Smith
With a high percentage of interested people showing up, there were thirty-two starters on a cool windy morning. Following a trail that begins at a dolomite mine, it was easy going down a canyon, across Horsethief Creek, and up onto Little Pinyon Flat. We then followed the clearly marked trail that eventually goes over a saddle west of Martinez Peak. However, we left the trail before reaching the saddle and headed more directly towards our objective.
After gaining most of the necessary elevation, it was a case of following the broad ridge to Martinez Peak which was easily seen in the distance. The summit block offered a low class three pitch which gave us a traffic problem, but not a serious one since this was the right time for a lunch rest stop. In due time all thirty-two had signed in and started down on the opposite side from which we had arrived.
Regrouping a short time later at a point from which Sheep Peak could be seen, all thirty-two people chose to return via that peak. It was a rather steep descending route but a reasonable pace allowed everyone to reach the broad Pinyon Flat area in good time. The route then took us over rolling terrain directly towards Sheep Peak with only a short time until the top of Sheep was reached.
After a hasty rest on top of Sheep, thirty-one hikers headed westward on a course down a canyon for a short distance, a not-so-easy contour and short climb up a steep slope to a saddle from which point it was straight going towards the morning trail. This trail was intercepted shortly before reaching Horsethief Creek crossing. The final leg of the days outing was slowly upgrade on the earlier canyon trail. This last couple of miles is not a blessing to tired aching feet but the group was out by dusk just as some snowflakes could be felt blowing upon us.
Most of the participants were shortly homeward bound, and a nice way to close the days activities; however such was not the way it turned out. The thirty-second member of the group had reached the foot of Sheep Peak and was a hundred yards away from the easy top. At this point, he decided to start back on his own, and this he did arriving back the next day in the middle of the afternoon. The leader asked that six experienced climbers volunteer to stay overnight to await developments the next day.
Eight people, plus the leaders, volunteered for which the leaders wish to thank again at this time. Those staying were Lois and Ron Francisco, Priscilla and Chris Libby, Roy Ward, Bob Cates, Doug Mantle, and Tom Cardina. If I were lost on an outing, it would be a pleasant thought to know that this group was helping to find me. In addition, Riverside County had a deputy sheriff on hand and units of the Riverside Rescue Group, Sierra Madre Search and Rescue Group, and the San Diego Rescue Group arrived to assist. The search mission was well underway on Sunday when the missing hiker walked out. All's well that ends well. Thirty-two bodies in and 'thirty-two bodies out - guess that was the name of the Martinez-Sheep outing climb for January 26 (and 27th).
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