Martinez Mountain, Sheep Peak
By: Lou Brecheen
Many of cur climbing brethren bag these two interesting mtns, situated in an esthetically pleasing area, via one frantic twenty-mile dayhike. To be truly enjoyed and appreciated, as well as "Bagged", an overnight backpack should be employed---which is the way we did it. A smallish group (7) met at the entrance to Pinion Flat Campground on Hwy 74, twenty-one miles south of Mountain Center on Saturday morn. We caravanned a quarter-mile along the road opposite the CG to Pinion Flat garbage transfer station and parked. After sorting out the maze of roads and trails we eventually found the road leading down to the Dolomite minee and followed it, staying to the right, to it's end and the beginning of the Cactus Spring trail. There is a trail register hut no sign identifying it as the CS trail. The trail is good and undulates two and a half miles to Horsethief Canyon. Horsethief Creek was flowing a nice volume of water from the sides of the Santa Rosa range. After crossing, we climbed out of the canyon into a desert environment. The trail became a series of sandy washes, occasionally marked by a small sign: "Trail". There was water beneath the sands for cattails grew along the way.
The trail wound it's way another two and one-half miles past Horsethief Creek to Cactus Springs. There was a small flow of water from the spring, located 70 feet east of the trail in a wash overgrown with "marshgrass". It was "good" water. Here, we camped. After lunch we set out for Sheep Mtn, following a compass course of 30°, as suggested in the write-up; arriving on top in one hour & 15 minutes. We were joined on top by three Southern California hikers who had gotten off route and were happy to join up with some "expert route finders". We spent 3o minutes admiring the views, especially the fine contours of the Santa Rose ridge, featuring Santa Rosa summit, Toro Peak and Rabbit Peak. After returning to camp, we spent some hours, relaxing, sharing "goodies", etc, until time for dinner and a surer campfire of dead Manzanita wood & a reading of "The Iceworm Cocktail". It was a fine, clear day with the temperatures in the forties. During the night a cloud cover crept in, keeping the thermometer from dropping below 32°. Sunday morn, it was off, up the trail at 7:15, for a half mile; where we left the trail and followed the sandy wash directly toward Martinez Mtn--3-l/2 miles away. There was plenty of bouldering and bushwhacking before we topped the final ridge and dropped into the talus-filled gully leading to the saddle a quarter-mile southwest of the interesting summit block. Five of us worked our way up the short (1C') class three pitch and stood, braced against a chill wind, on the topmost crystal at 10:45 AM.
A sandy, sheltered spot at the base of the summit provided a place for lunch, following which we worked our way back into the rock-strewn, steep chute for the return to Cactus String. We were packed and on our way out at 2:45 PM and even though several of us were stiff and tired and sore, we were hurried by some ominous thunderheads out to the west. It was a few minutes past five when we reached the cars. Shirley McFall and Tom Armbruster climbed Sheep and hiked back out or Saturday. Gordon Lindberg, Bob Michael and Jon Fredland stayed on for the long haul. Thank you to Barbara Reber for an able assist. To the three "no-shows": no big deal; there wasn't a need for a permit, so numbers were not important. It was a grand weekend.
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