Monday, September 10, 2007

Saddle Mountain Hike, installment 4...names

This is the top of Saddleback. There's not tons of room up here, but the view is completely panoramic.

It was originally a fire lookout station beginning in the 1920's some time.There are two wooden structures up here, a cabin (about 10 or 12' square) and an outhouse.

It was strange after so much unbridled wilderness to reach the summit and find a funny little house perched right up on top!

The large, flat, dish-shaped rock that everyone is sitting on is completely covered in names and dates. The oldest one that I found is here, marked C.J.C. Slade 1929 1933. The oldest names that are carved into the rock are done with the same type of lettering, so one can only assume that these were fire lookout keepers and that they had metal stamps of some kind to incise their names with.

Many of the older names have a string of dates after them...these fellows would add the new date each time they were posted back here.

It would have taken a very special breed of person to spend all of fire season perched on top of this rock, high above everything else with no company. I'd be interested to know if they spent the whole season up there alone aside from supply delivery, or if they had rotating shifts of a few weeks each. I think it could become very monotonous in that tiny cabin after 2 weeks... without a sewing machine, that is...

Over many, many years, hikers have been adding their names to those of the lookout keepers'. The whole of the dish shaped rock is criss-crossed with names and dates, incised in many directions. Many, like the keepers', have a short string of dates after them.

I even found where Oldest carved his name in last year, and added mine to his. I know youngest tried to carve in an initial for himself last year, but I couldn't find it. I took a photo of a letter someone else had carved (that just happened to be his initial) to bring home to him as a keepsake. (Do click on the photo of the name rock. It's quite something)

Don't think that it's easy to carve your name in the rock, either. To do it with any degree of success, you have to hunt around the cabin for an old nail or something, find a rock to use as a hammer and chisel your name in, blow by blow, chip by chip. Many people who come repeatedly carve their own name deeper each time so that erosion doesn't wash it away. I carved Oldest's deeper for him, then did my own. Our letters are about 2" high.

Here is a view of the rock from the bottom of the steps of the cabin. You can see in the photo that there is really nothing below in on the East side, the side we came up underneath. I'm always surprised at how close to that edge some of the names are carved.

Stay tuned...


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