Granite Mountains #1
By: Sue Holloway
5th Annual Ladies Only Desert Adventure
I was able to get a trip notice in "The Southern Sierran" and (note to other leaders!) I find this extra publicity is a great way to attract new people. Even with the usual last minute sign-ups and cancellations, we still had a diverse group on Saturday morning at the meeting spot. We were late in starting as a couple of the gals were running way behind but, since the trip was billed as "social" and the climb wasn't all that difficult, I didn't feel compelled to be my usual obnoxious self about it.
Everyone had a copy of the map from the Peaks Guide in hand and, after discussing the route, we were off... 14 strong, plus two dogs. The route went well though we were in no hurry so our pace was slow. We took a long break at the point where the Guide says to take a bearing at the huge boulder. We typically use these hikes as opportunities to brush up on our navigation skills so, after our break, we were all busy taking a bearing before continuing. The going up the gully was slow, especially for those not used to the steep desert terrain. However, we regrouped at the summit where we celebrated not one, not two, not three, not four, but five in our party having bagged their first DPS peak. The others in the group included 4 list finishers (all of whom are hacking away at 2Xing the list) and 4 others in various stages of checking peaks off the list. That's what I mean by a grand mix of talented ladies!
Even though we were a bit late on reaching the summit, we enjoyed a long lunch and the great views in every direction. Finally, the summit pictures were taken, the register was secured and we began our descent. What was difficult for some going up, was equally as difficult going down.. . .especially since both a 4 legged climber and a 2 legged climber had sore feet and required some blister-control. All were safely back in camp by 5 p.m.
Now the rest of the fun was to begin. Mary, with her seemingly endless supply of wood, was in charge of the fire. Christine had been appointed (or was it anointed?) the Cork Mistress so she was busy organizing the beverages for the wine tasting. The rest of us set up tables, prepared our dishes and presented the spread of food. Soon we were listening in awe as our Mistress of Ceremonies instructed us as to the rules, passed out the ballots and started to introduce the first wine. Don't you believe otherwise. . . .this beautiful setting in the Mojave desert, with seemingly millions of stars overhead, was a superior venue for such festivities. We don't need no stinking wine train!
The next morning was advertised as leisurely so we enjoyed breakfast around a small fire (Mary has promised to put a notice in THE SAGE when she runs out of wood!). Some in the group chose to head home while the others joined the leaders in exploring the nearby Kelso Depot which is being restored and will, one day, serve as the visitor center for the Mojave National Preserve. Next stop was the Kelso Dunes which the group climbed. I had eyed that beautiful area the first time I climbed Granite #1 but, alas, those were the days when all I was focused on was bagging one peak and moving on to the next. Wow, am I ever relieved those days are over. I'm having much more fun now!!
My thanks to my trusty co-leader, Mary, who demonstrated her patience by insuring that all the group reached both the summit and camp safely. Also, I want to recognize both Linda McD and Christine as the cofounders of this event that so many of us are enjoying year after year. And, of course, it wouldn't have been nearly as much fun without the terrific bunch of gals who took time out of their busy schedules to join us on this latest desert adventure.
Participants included Linda McDermott, Christine Mitchell, Patty Rambert, Robin Schell, Rena Tishman, Kimiko Otake, Ann Perkins, Linda Grant, Jackie Clarkson, Jennifer Martinez, Pat Arredondo, Britta Lindgren and leaders, Mary Motheral and Sue Holloway.
("Technical" details: The Peaks Guide is accurate in both the driving and climbing directions. The parking area was a good place for our group to camp both Friday and Saturday nights and the access road is no problem for 2WD vehicles, even low clearance.)
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