Sheep Mountain, Martinez Mountain


By: Ann Perkins


A group of 14 (David and Wendy Doucette, Spencer Berman, Winnette Butler, Sara Danta, Bob Hoeven, Anne Rolls, Stephanie Gylden, Ron Goldfarb, Mia Wang, Gerry Pardoen, Dave Perkins, George Wysup: asst. leader, and me) turned out for my provisional backpack lead into the Santa Rosa Wilderness.

It was a beautiful fall weekend, and after a little over an hour on the trail we arrived at Horsethief Creek and stopped to fill canteens and admire the yellow and orange foliage on the cottonwoods. Our packs had been somewhat lighter for the 2 1/2 up and down miles to the creek, but after taking on all the water needed for the rest of the weekend, we toiled up a steep 300' or so out of the canyon and two more miles of up and down to the camp at (so-called) Cactus Springs - don't count on water here!

Arriving about 11:30, we had plenty of time to set up camp and enjoy lunch before starting off for Sheep. We proceeded over a series of bumps and rock piles and through cactus, and George declared that he had never been on this route before (in spite of this being his seventh time!) We did reach the summit, however, and on the way back the leader pulled herself together and found a more direct route. We were a little dismayed by the heat and the amount of water we had consumed, but after pooling resources, especially thanks to the generous supply Bob Hoeven had packed in, decided we would survive. Even on a backpack, we managed to have a great happy hour, but with no campfire to gather around, retired early for a long (and somewhat cold) night.

There was plenty of light for a 6 a.m. start the next morning, and no one complained - better starting early than hiking out in the dark. Eleven of us set out and followed the good Cactus Springs trail to a saddle, and then a fairly well-ducked route up the ridge to the summit.

After a lunch break, we descended via the gully, steep but also well-ducked, and then down a series of washes to rejoin the trail. Back in camp, we found that Wendy Doucette and Sara Danta had hiked back to Horsethief Creek in our absence and filled many of the canteens - the extra water was certainly welcome!

On the way back, we realized we had forgotten about (or repressed) the elevation loss on the way in - I kept saying "Only one more uphill stretch," and then another one came along. But we made it back to the cars at 4:30 with plenty of daylight. Thanks to a congenial and patient group for a fun and successful trip.

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