Black Butte, Orocopia Mountains


By: John McCully, Patty Kline


Not many old timers this year, but several newcomers. Perhaps newcomers turn out for an old timers reunion figuring it'll be easy to keep up. The rest of us know that keeping up is rarely a concern on DPS hikes, but how's a newcomer to know this. Before my first HPS hike m 1976 I lay awake all night worrying about being left in the dust! Rather than creep out Hwy 91 on Friday night the leaders opted for a 10:30 AM meeting on Saturday morning and spent Friday night at home in bed, just like sensible HPS people. We left the 2WD vehicles at the spot indicated in the Guide and piled everyone into the 4WD's to knock the last possible mile of the hike. No extra unnecessary hiking for smart people like us, Patty decided to sweep so I led the way up the peak, following the road until it took a turn to the East, and then we bounced over bumps following ridges to the top of Orocopia. This added an extra 300 feet or so of ups and downs, but avoided the brush in the gully route described in the guide. Just to make sure we experienced both the extra gain and the brush I led us down the gully.

By 4PM we were back at the 2WD parking area where after some discussion about whether we were camping in a wind tunnel we set up a pot luck. The wind tunnel never materialized so we had a nice campfire. A number of extra folks showed up for the campfire, including Edna Erspamer, Vic Henney, Sue Wyman, Tom Sumner, Evelyn Chadwell, Phil Reher.

Patty ran a competition for who first went on a DPS trip. Ron Jones won hands down, having done a DPS peak in the late 40's and gone on a DPS led hike in the early 60's. I came in second having gone on a trip led by Claude Walker in October 1976 of Rosa Point while Ron Bartell clocked in as third oldest having gone on his first DPS trip in early 1977. I'm not sure that I'll ever adjust to the idea of being an old-timer. Patty then got people to tell horror stones about disastrous 3PS trips they'd been on, broken limbs, brushes with death, that type of thing. Ron Jones topped everyone by having been on the Big Picacho trip where Joe Darrow died of a heart attack and they had to pile rocks over his body and leave it there. Another time Ron was doing a peak with the DPS in Mexico when they came across the bodies of a joint suicide. The Mexican authorities couldn't locate the bodies from the description so some DPSers returned later to show some soldiers from the Mexican army where they were The army guys had a hard time doing the peak in their heavy wool clothes.

The next morning most folks decided to skip Black Butte, but a dozen or so chugged down the pipeline road and then over the Bradshaw road. The pipe along the pipeline road is currently about 4 inches thick and is being replaced with something about a foot thick. There where a number of surveyors from the gas company out checking the route, I suppose they need to make sure the new pipe will fit on their easement One person in our party notified Elden Hughes about their activity. Elden then called a BLM ranger who went out Monday to make sure that all was on the up and up. Seems it was, they just hadn't notified some of the folks at the BLM.

We had a bit of trouble finding the start of the road into Black Butte. The Peaks guide is correct when it says that the road off of the Bradshaw road starts 0.4 miles East of the concrete slab, but somebody must go in there every once in a while with a broom and remove all signs of the first 50 feet of this side road The trick is that the side road starts almost immediately after the Bradshaw road turns East after a very sharp turn to the South.

By early afternoon we were all headed home. Participants were Patty Kline, Jim Conley, Helen Thompson, Dave Welbourn, Ron & Leora Jones, Maris & Anna Valkass, Gwen Hembrock, J. Holshuh, Susan Leverton, Jim Farkas, Mariana Heiding, Ron Bartell, Christine Mitchell, David Hammond, Carol Smetana, and John McCully.

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

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