Don Buchanan, aka Don Viejo, his hiking trail name, considers himself as the youngest old man in SoCal. It was really an honor and privilege to hike with this great man together with several friends from our hiking community on November 5, 2016 in celebration of his 88th birthday. It was a celebration of life as one of the organizers, Lissinia Aguilar, describes it. I first met Don during our hike at San Bernardino Peak. He is such an inspiration to us all.
An avid hiker himself, who gained notoriety three years back by posting an ad along the trail to Mt. Baden-Powell where he mentioned he was looking for a female hiking companion. He even held interviews atop of the summit, at 9,406 feet, to challenge them. See SoCalHiker.net link below regarding the article.
On January 25, 2014, he got stranded at Mt. Baden-Powell. He took a different route and spent the night on a ledge in California’s San Gabriel Mountains. He got rescued the next day and survived the ordeal after being exhausted and feeling cold. See Backpacker.com’s article link below.
Hiking for Health and Happiness (3H) organized this event paying tribute to Don Viejo. We met at the Icehouse Canyon Trailhead at 6:30 am at an elevation of 4,960 feet. An Adventure Pass is needed to park here. Carlos Berruz, founder of Everyone’s Hike joined the event. We were also joined by Ricardo Cruz and Maglory Maza’s grandchildren, Christopher and Ruby Barragan. At the parking lot, Ricardo gave instructions in Spanish with Lissinia translating it in English. Don Viejo also gave a speech in the beginning. Icehouse Saddle, our final destination, has 7,580 feet in elevation and gain/loss of 2,620 feet. The total mileage of this hike is 7 miles.
Our hike started around 7 am with Don Viejo leading the group. He was accompanied by his son David. I quickly noticed and surprised that the Don himself is hiking at a good pace heading upwards. I am amazed by how fast he can hike. Somewhere along the trail, we sang “Happy Birthday ” to Don.
As we reached our destination, Icehouse Saddle, each of us gave high-fives to one another then we had our lunch break and took a lot of photos. Don Viejo had lots of stories to tell and jokes too.
As we headed back down the trail, Don wanted to be at the back of the group this time. He was accompanied by some of the hikers and they had the opportunity to exchanged stories along the trail. Maglory, Vivian Carillo, and Dora Cruz hurried down first to prepare the feast before Don and the rest of the group returned to the parking lot.
When we arrived at the Icehouse Canyon Trailhead, we did our tradition of giving high-fives to each hiker who completed the hike.
Each one of us signed a greeting to Don Viejo on a large picture frame. After that, we had tamales and champurrado. Tony Delgado made two carrot cakes. When Don arrived, we put our hands together creating a bridge for him to walk through, while we congratulated him. We sang “Happy Birthday” again. Only this time, we sang twice, the first was a Spanish version, and then the English version.
It was such a memorable occasion for him and the hiking community. Ricardo promised him that we will do another hike to Mt. Baden-Powell in his honor next year. Thanks to Tony Delgado for bringing the dessert and for taking memorable pictures along the trail. Thanks to 3H Family (Ricardo, Maglory, Dora, and Lissinia) for organizing this event. Us as hikers aspire one day to be just like Don at his age still hiking. We salute you, Senor Don Viejo.