Message from the past

Forty years ago a La Cañada Flintridge teen named Tim Taylor summited an unnamed mountain more than 12,000 feet high and more than 20 miles deep in the backcountry of the southern Sierra. Taylor left behind a small legacy that was discovered last month, and now members of an Oakland family are trying to find him.

In September, while on an 11-day trek with his son, grandson and others near Milestone Mountain in Sequoia National Park, Oakland resident Larry Wright, 69, stumbled upon a small metal canister nestled against a rock near a high peak.

The canister held a note, which reads: “Tim Taylor climbed to this peak, Thursday, August 17, 1972. Age 13 yrs. Anyone finding this note please write.”

The note also contained an address on Padres Trail in La Cañada Flintridge.

Wright contacted the Valley Sun in hopes of finding Taylor, who would now be around 53, to share backcountry stories.

“I thought he would find it interesting that 40 years later somebody found his note,” said Wright, a repeat visitor to the Sierra high country. “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.”

But it appears Taylor has moved on. Voter registration records show no Tim Taylor in the city, and residents in Taylor's old neighborhood had no idea.

Koichi Uyemura, who lives in the home listed on Taylor's note, said his family has owned the house for 18 years. He said his understanding is that the Taylors may have built the home, which was completed in 1954, but that at least two sets of owners separate the Uyemuras and the Taylors.

Wright said the note was in great condition, considering it was on a weather-beaten peak at the top of the Great Western Divide on the border of Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks.

“It just happened I went down this side of the peak and there was this canister just on the ground by a rock,” he said. “It was so rusted it was about the same color as the rock … and there was this note in there in perfect shape. It looked like it could have been written yesterday.”

Given that it takes several days to hike to the peak and that the canister was not right at the summit, it's a miracle he spotted it.

“I doubt if anybody ever saw it,” Wright said. “It could have sat there forever, because it's a place where people wouldn't normally go.”

Becky Satnat, a ranger at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park for 22 years, said that at some peaks, hikers have left logbooks for conquerors to sign. But she was surprised that anybody found something as small as Taylor's note.

“People might leave things like that all over the backcountry, which is about 860,000 acres,” she said. “That's way in the backcountry.”

“I've never heard of anything like it,” she said. “This does not happen.”

Copyright © 2019, La Cañada Valley Sun
EDITION: California | U.S. & World