Eagle Mountain #2
By: Dennis Richards
Shane Smith’s DPS list finisher
After I had signed up to attend Shane Smith’s DPS list finish on Eagle #2, I got an email from Shane asking if I would be interested in assisting his father, Steve Smith, with this trip ( an M rating was needed ). Of course, I quickly agreed. We arranged to meet at the trailhead at 10:00AM on Saturday, Dec 6, 2003.
Karen Boyd and I left San Diego at noon on Friday and had a leisurely drive out. We stopped at the Sizzler in Barstow and went for the soup and salad bar, just like when I was doing the List years ago. And just like years ago, I wound up overeating. After gassing up the truck, we continued on to Baker where I topped off the tank. It was dark by this time, but we had a near full moon and I pointed out to Karen all of the areas DPS peaks in the moonlight.
We arrived at the Eagle trailhead about 7:00 PM or so, the only ones there. We sat up the chairs, opened a bottle of Chardonnay and enjoyed to moonlight scene. We watched as a couple of large low flying Navy helicopters flew close overhead. You could see the numbers and logos on each clearly and the rear doors were open. I imagine that they could also clearly see us with their infra-red cameras and night vision goggles. They flew around a bit . They may have been Navy Seals or Army Rangers on a special-ops training mission of some sort, but that’s just a guess. We soon were joined by Judy Ware and Neil Scott. They were looking for Ted Brasket. Neil and Ted were going to traverse Eagle while the rest of the group were doing the peak. They soon left to continue hunting for Ted. Karen and I turned in soon after.
We awoke early on Saturday morning to find that another vehicle had joined us. We had a leisurely breakfast, watched Neil and Ted head out (they were parked less than ˝ mile north of the regular trailhead), packed our lunches and gear and waited for the rest of the group to show. Between 9:30 and 10:00 AM a steady stream of vehicles made it into the trailhead. I got the sign-in sheets going around (thanks to Gary Craig for remembering to bring them), and a total of 20 people signed on.
After announcements by Steve Smith and introductions all around, we took off for the climb of Eagle #2. Eagle is fairly steep and with a large group there were several rest stops to let people catch up. We had one sign-off on the ascent and the group was soon at the ~ class. This was interesting climbing with a large group in the cold wind but everyone took their time and all made the summit. There were congratulations to Shane, a few quick photos and everyone headed back down. Given the conditions, the usual champagne “toasting” was out of the question. Everyone was “spotting” other climbers and we soon were below the 3r class. We stopped in a place out of the wind for lunch.
After an uneventful descent, we concluded our climb at the parking spot. Shane’ s mother was there to congratulate him with a special DPS List Finish tee shirt of her own making. There were several others present as well. Those summating on Eagle #2 were: Steve Smith, Shane Smith, Charlie Knapke, Rich Gnagy, Sue and Vic Henney, Dean Acheson, Thomas Erspamer, Richard Whitcomb, David Frankenberger (the first DPS peak for this young lad! ), Carol Snyder, Terry Flood, Sue Holloway, Cliff Jones, Gary Craig, John Strauch, Tom Sumner, Karen Boyd and Dennis Richards.
Some scattered at this point but several of us drove down to Tecopa for a soak and then headed out to the BLM camping spot west of Tecopa for the party. It was good! Lots of food and drink and good conversation around a warm campfire under an almost full moon
. Everyone was up and off early on Sunday. Carol, Terry, John and Gary left to climb nearby Tecopa Peak. Karen and I drove north to spend two days exploring around Death Valley. Both of us had been there several times for different reasons. Karen had done several “double century” (that’s 200 miles! ) bike rides and I had “worked” the DPS list. Neither of us had really taken the time to see all the tourist stuff. We visited all of the lower Valley tourist sites. I strongly recommend a visit to the Natural Bridge and Artist’s Palate, if one has the time. We eventually wound up in Beatty, Nevada for a gas stop and then did the long drive through Titus Canyon. This gets another strong recommendation as a must do. Most of us have hiked or packed through similar canyons of one sort or another but driving through this one was impressive. We emerged from the canyon just in time to get an impressive moonrise coming up over the Grapevine Mountains as we drove over to the Emigrant Canyon campground to spend the night. This is not much of a campground but it was nofee and we were tired.
We left early Monday morning and I took some time to check out the Route B start for the drive into Tucki. The road was in excellent condition at the start. I remember a few years back when a storm had washed it out completely. We drove through Emigrant Canyon on over to Ballarat, where we toured the townsite, including a visit to Seldom Seen Slim’s grave in the local cemetery. We took a lot of good photos here. Back on the hi-way, we saw several fighter planes skimming across the desert floor and then rising up and over the Maturango Range to drop into China Lake, an ever present reminder of what was happening in the world at large. After a final stop west of Trona, to visit the Trona Pinnacles, we continued on home concluding a great extended weekend adventure!
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