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Present-day hikers find a 40-year-old letter — and its author

A woman stands amongst a grove of a Giant Sequoia trees in the Sequoia National Park in Central California on October 11, 2009.
A woman stands amongst a grove of a Giant Sequoia trees in the Sequoia National Park in Central California on October 11, 2009.
Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

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Four decades ago, a 13-year old Boy Scout tucked a note into a metal canister and left it at the summit of an unnamed mountain in the Sierra Nevadas. Here’s what it said:

“Tim Taylor climbed to this peak, Thursday, August 17, 1972. Age 13 years. Anyone finding this note please write.”

The note included a La Canada Flintridge address.

Someone did find the note… but it took until just last month. Several newspapers carried the story of the note.

Monday, the person who wrote it surfaced. These days, that former Boy Scout is a Superior Court judge in San Diego.

San Diego County Superior Court Judge Timothy B. Taylor told KPCC how he found out about the note.

“I received a call from an old friend of my late father’s who went out to his driveway in Glendale, picked up the Glendale News-Press, and called me and said, ‘You’re not going to believe this, but you’re on the front page of the Glendale News-Press, and it’s because of some note you left on a mountain.’”

That triggered Taylor’s memory.

“I instantly remembered this spectacular day in 1972, Boy Scout, 50-miler across the Sierras, and we had a layover day and, you know, I woke up and decided to climb this mountain that was unnamed, an unnamed peak, and that was really the attraction of it. No name — so maybe I’m the first one to ever climb it.”

Appointed to the bench in 2005 to handle criminal, civil and family law cases, Taylor was elected to a six-year term in 2006.

Larry Wright of Oakland, 69, also decided to take on the peak last month. He was on an 11-day trip to Sequoia National Park with his son and grandson when they happened upon the rusted canister stuffed with the teenager’s note.

Taylor’s wife Cindy, a bankruptcy judge, didn’t have to talk to too many reporters before locating Taylor.

Taylor said he was able to speak with Wright on Monday.

“Had a nice chat with him, and he agreed with my plan to form a committee to name the peak the Taylor-Wright Peak since we are the first and second people at least known to have climbed to the top of it."

Taylor said he’s just kidding about naming the mountain, but the judge said the discovery of the note has been “a lot of fun” — and one thing has made it even better.

“I have to tell you, the best part is reconnecting with my dad’s friends who I never get to see or talk to anymore, and my old buddies from junior high and high school in La Canada. They have been calling and emailing and texting in droves, and it’s just wonderful to reconnect with all these fellas that are so much a part of my life.”

One ranger who’s worked at Sequoia National Park for two decades told the Los Angeles Times she’s never heard the likes of this.

It also wasn’t the only note Taylor ever left behind, he said, according to the Associated Press. “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.”

Wright, an avid hiker, said he’d been through the area several times. “The first time I had been in this area was in 1979, seven years after Tim left the note,” Wright said.

On Sept. 8, he was with his son Aaron and grandson Skyler.