Orocopia Mountains


By: Leora and Ron Jones, Igor and Suzanne Mamedalin


The skeptics should have come in spite of the weather! This perhaps was the best Chili cook-off yet. The cooks had assured me that each of them would win, so the competition heated up (so to speak). We met in Indio at the Shields Date Gardens (intersection of Jefferson and Hwy 111). Jon Lutz claimed it to have the best date shakes around as was worth the drive off Hwy 10 as an alternative to Hadleys. After learning all you needed to know about the sex life of a date, we traveled along Hwy 111 on the east side of the Salton Sea and drove in on the south approach toward Orocopia.

We could drive only to 650 ft, just below the first mine tailings, as the road was badly washed out one mile of the Route "B" trailhead. We found a great place for the cook-off, with a beach view of the Salton Sea.

As the afternoon came, the sun shone brightly and provided a delightful t-shirt/shorts kind of day. The 12 cooks began preparing their delectable delights and after an extensive happy hour, (including veteran DPSer Bill Bradley's Brownies which took first prize for desert), we started tasting. There were hot, mild, vegetarian, pork, beef, black bean, kidney bean, "fartless" and original Texas chilis to choose from. We even had fresh warm baked cornbread, carrot cake and charcoal baked onions.

After the ballots were counted, we announced the results. Ron Jones had honorable mention for his dutch oven entry "Black and White" chili. 4th place went to Jon Lutz for his good tasting "fartless" Desert Rat chili. Third place went to Linda McDermott for her delicious vegetarian chili. Second place went to last year's first place winner, Suzanne Mamedalin for her hot and spicy Italian sausage chili with "50% too much of everything" First place, by a landslide, went to Evelyn Chadwell for her down home Texas chili. She has participated in all 3 cook-offs and has every time cooked enough for an army with several courses including fresh baked carrot cake. This year she took the grand prize. Congratulations Evelyn! (see her recipe in this Sage)

All cooks were given "BEANO" caps. Beano is a liquid enzyme used to prevent/minimize gas. They were also given a bottle of Beano which was available for all tasters. Evelyn also got a beautiful green windbreaker, compliments of Beano.

John Carson brought the tub from the inside of a washing machine which made a perfect container for our blazing campfire. Conversations, Bob Michael's insurance song, jokes and discussion over the desert bill lasted well into the evening.

Half or so of the folks left for home after breakfast while 17 remained to hike up Orocopia. Ron started the hike at 8am Sunday morning at an easy pace. 15 reached the summit in about 3 hours. Garnet Roehm of Julian qualified for DPS membership with his sixth summit. John McCully, as usual, rushed ahead with Chessie and hit the road before the group returned. It was good to see Yolanda Gonzalez who has seemed to have recovered well from her skiing injury, She got her 4th or 5th desert summit.

Weather to the north over I-10 f Chiriaco Summit was very dark with occasional thunder and lightning. We didn't stay long on the summit and a few drops of rain spattered around us on our descent. We followed the description for Orocopia route B on our ascent. On the descent we found it a bit easier to drop back into the main canyon about 2-300 feet lower in elevation. All were back at the cars in two hours,

We had a great tail gate party upon our returning, covering Shakespeare, Haiku, Edward Abbey, etc. A good time was had by all.

Thank you Igor and Suzanne, as always, for helping out. In addition to those forementioned, participants included: Ed Lozano, Annick Wolf, Mario Gonzalez, Karen Leonard, Edna Erspamer, Ron Young, Vic Henney, Sue Wyman, Tom Sumner, Ron Grau, Harry Rockey, Eileen Seligson, Betsy Lutz, Andy Butcher, Gerry Thomas, Basil Anton, Kathy Lucas, Barbara Schnirel and Tom Sakowych.

P.S. 3 participants, John McCully, Ron Grau and Tom Sumner tried but didn't pass the Desert Rat Test, administered by Jones the 1st time in 5 years.

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