Old Woman Mountains

31-Jan-98 (List Finish)

By: Linda McDermott


After a 25+ year stretch, I finished the Desert Peaks List on top of Old Woman Mountain on January 31, 1998, thinking it appropriate to finish on that peak since my 50th birthday was just around the corner (February 1, 1998). About 70 people hiked up the peak, and we were honored with people coming as faraway as Ohio (yes, flatland Ohio) where my brother Mac and his wife Bonnie live. Close to 100 showed up for the celebration following the climb. I really owe this event to John McCully, who challenged me by publicizing the event in the Sage as a coming attraction before I had committed to the goal. I also owe John peak #96 (Granite #2), which Sue Holloway, dogs Mandy and Maggie, and I got on December 5, 1997.

Skeleton Pass near Old Woman will never be the same. Many thanks to Campmaster Henry Heusinkveld, Abe Siemens and Bob Greenawalt who had scouted the roads and campspot, locating a terrific place with lots of space for dispersed camping. Many people arrived Friday night, where I was presented a "throne" next to the campfire. It kind'a looked like a toilet, but we all had fun sitting on it. There was a challenge to carry me to the top of the peak on the throne.

Saturday morning, the hiking group met at 7 am for transfer into 4WD vehicles, and the 8-mile drive up Carbonate Gulch. Leader Phil Reher assembled everyone and divided the hiking groups into two. Phil and Evelyn Reher led one group, while Greg Roach led another group with assistance from many leaders in his group. We went up routes C and D, getting on top of the peak around noon. Statistics were: 2200'gain, four miles round-trip, generally class 2.

Several wonderful folks had volunteered to carry ice cream, fudge and nuts to the top of the peak. Miraculously, the ice cream was in perfect shape to be served when we got on top of the peak. We quickly found that serving 70 people melting ice cream had to be done quickly, so Jim Hinkley, Vanessa McDermott and I assembled the sundaes and passed them over our shoulders. I admit to having two helpings, and no other lunch. Of course there was champagne on top also. Several presentations were made, including Patty Kline giving me the list finish pin. Then Ron Jones uncovered a DPS flag that we hope to carry to future list finishes, and there were presentations of special books and albums and hats, just too much! Emie Spiehler made a videotape of the entire climb, which is wonderful. The trip was really completed with my brother Mac, his wife Bonnie, and my children Vanessa and James being with me. The crew made it down safely about 3-4:00 in the afternoon, giving us plenty of time to party and have events.

A most special event was Ellen Senior presenting a quilt she had made. She began with a letter from my dog Casie requesting quilt squares from friends, then spent what I'm sure was an eternity putting them all together. Each square had a memory from those wonderful people who have spent time with me. Some squares had stitching, some were photos transferred to material. It is truly beautiful, and I feel honored that she spent so much time on it, plus the caring of the people who contributed. Come to my house - it will be on a wall within the year!

The chocolate contest had three categories: best fudge (my mom won - she sent fudge from Virginia and was the only entry); most unusual chocolate covered item contest (won by Scott Jamison who covered his atomic bombs with chocolate); best overall chocolate dessert (won by many people, including Evelyn Reher who made a 2-layer German chocolate cake for the birthday celebration. Yes, we had 50 candles that were hard to light but exceedingly easy to blow out. Around the campfire, there was a bequeathing ceremony where many pieces of equipment were distributed.

Tom Sumner burned my very-much patched shorts, and Jim Hinkley and Phil Reher burned the well-ventilated tights which lasted up over 40 DPS peaks in 1997.

Sunday morning there was a pancake breakfast, with about five stoves going at once. My thanks to the Baldwins, Rehers, Ellen Senior and Christine Mitchell for a all volunteering to help. Charlotte Feitshans helped with the cooking, and Gary James got possessive of the task of mixing the batter. Good job, everyone!

The list of leaders who have helped me up peaks begins in the early 1970's with Doug Mantle, Bill Bradley, Ron Jones and Chuck Pospishiel, and the list of all those I need to thank more recently is endless. I don't want to repeat what was recently written in the Maturango trip write- up, so suffice it to say that this DPS list was not accomplished alone, but with the help of my friends. Life is only family, friends and memories. I thank everyone for being my "family" and creating such wonderful, life-long memories. May we laugh and tell stories for a long time.

Detailed information for visiting one or more peaks mentioned in this article can be found in the
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