Nelson Range


By: Scott Jamison


It was raining all week in LA, and snowing in the Sierra, but very few cancellations were tendered for this special list finisher. We even got some spouses and significant others to join the throng in the Saline Valley for the hike and the party.

Larry and Barbee Tidball joined Scot and Pat Jamison by "wimping out" and spending Friday night at the new Alabama Hills Motel in Lone Pine. This led to a wild race across Death Valley (after a nice breakfast in Lone Pine) to the meeting place on the Saline Valley Road at 9 Am. where we met several hardier soles who froze their fistachetts off that night camping in the area.

We carpooled over to the trailhead of Nelson, where 23 hikers started for the snow-covered peak. Karen Leonard was nursing a sprained ankle that refused to go up hill, so she returned to guard the cars while we hiked. After a couple of false summits, 22 people and Rusky the dog met on top to celebrate Larry and Judy Ware's completion of the Desert Peaks List.

Champagne corks (saved by RJ Secor) popped, and snacks abounded. While Scot fumbled with a new video camera to record the event. Bill Oliver and Barbee escorted Pat Jamison to her first DPS Peak, this only 3 weeks after right knee surgery. George Pfeiffer awarded Judy with her pin, which. if you haven't seen one, is the ass end of a Bighorn Sheep. A group picture of list finishers included Edna Erspamer and Mark Adrian. Larry and Judy The group returned to the vehicles, and drove back to the meeting place, so that all cars could proceed to the Saline Valley Hot Springs. Channel 25 was the preferred choice for the vehicles with CB,s and Bob Wyka, Julie Rush, Bill, Larry and Scot bracketed the convoy. If more DPSers would use these, there might be less confusion on some of the longer, more complicated drives to trailheads and parties.

The drive into the hot springs was uneventful, but the valley was crowded. We found Erik Siering and Annie Kramer near the upper springs. and we spread out into a large camp surrounded by mostly bare residents. Brian Smith and Rhoda Gilson managed to get Rhoda's little Geo to make it out there after leaving Brian's Honda in LA with a broken timing belt. (They made it out, too!)

Nearly everyone joined in the Happy Hour(s) and party, and we soon took the preliminary showers and foot bath before crowding into the hot pools. More bubbly and wine and other goodies were consumed well into the full moon-lit night Filling the pools and enjoying the celebration were Greg and Mirna Roach, George Toby, Ron Young, Dave Welbourn, Terry Flood. Tom Sumner, Jim Fujimoto, all the previously mentioned hikers, and several "long timers" who spend weeks at the hot springs.

Just after Dusk, Pat noticed what appeared to be a car driving around Saline Peak to the east. Since there is no road, we watched as a light rounded below the skyline, then suddenly shot straight up and nestled into the Big Dipper Constellation. Then it jerked left and right, moving quickly all around the dipper. and back towards the east. Everyone eventually saw this light, as it wandered around the sky for at least 3 hours. Finally, the wine won out and we couldn't see it any longer.

Sunday morning Bill Oliver tackled Saline Peak. A large group left to climb Pleasant in the snow, and Greg, Mirna, Larry, Barbee, Scot & Pat drove the great 4WD road from Saline Valley to the Racetrack in Death Valley.

The wandering rocks are still there! Maybe the UFO's slide them around when they aren't entertaining partying hikers in Easter in Death Valley (or Dry on a Sleepless Beer).

Detailed information for visiting one or more peaks mentioned in this article can be found in the
Desert Peak Section Road and Peak Guides

DPS Archives Index | Desert Peaks Section