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Hiker's note brings two families together 40 years later

Tim Taylor, now a San Diego Superior Court judge

As a child, Tim Taylor and his parents always left a note in a bottle behind whenever they visited Catalina Island.

So when he was 13 years old and reached a Sierra Nevada summit in 1972 during a solo climb, he left behind a note in a metal film canister, saying "please write."

Four decades later, a 69-year-old grandfather on an 11-day trek with his son and grandson came across the canister, rusted and now nearly the color of the rocks themselves.

"I had my 14-year-old grandson with me. If he wrote a note like that, he'd be interested to have somebody respond decades later," Larry Wright said. So the Oakland resident set out to answer the note's author.

On Monday, Wright and Taylor, now a San Diego County Superior Court judge, spoke about their visits — separated by 40 years — to the rugged landscape known as the Great Western Divide.

Taylor, who lived in La Cañada Flintridge as a youth, recalled he was hiking solo in Sequoia National Park in August 1972 when he put a pencil to a lined sheet of paper: "Tim Taylor climbed to this peak, Thursday, August 17, 1972. Age 13 yrs. Anyone finding this note please write."

Taylor left the note on the peak before rejoining his troop for trout fishing in a nearby lake. Taylor recalled he left the note on a solo hike during a rare rest day on Boy Scout Troop 502's 50-mile backpacking trip through the Sierra.

"We had nowhere to go that day, so I woke up and I looked up and said, 'I think I'll climb that mountain,' " he said.

Taylor said he wanted to climb the peak precisely because it wasn't named on his Boy Scouts-provided topographic map — a chance to make his mark.

"I could see it was unnamed, and that was part of the attraction," he said. "There was no evidence that anybody had ever been there."

Taylor had a history of scrawling notes and leaving them behind, a habit picked up from his father. "Whenever [my family] would go to Catalina, my dad would have us put a note in a bottle," he said. "It's kind of the same idea."

Since the peak he climbed remains nameless, Taylor thought perhaps it could take its name from the unlikely connection forged by his note.

"Maybe," he said, "we can name it the Taylor-Wright Peak."


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Photo: Tim Taylor, now a San Diego Superior Court judge, was hiking solo in Sequoia National Park in 1972 when he left a penciled note in a metal film canister reading: “Tim Taylor climbed to this peak, Thursday, August 17, 1972. Age 13 yrs. Anyone finding this note please write.” Forty years later, somebody did. Credit: Eduardo Contreras / San Diego Union Tribune.

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