Pinto Mountain


By: Linda McDermott


After a slew of e-mails going back and forth (one of the main topics was FOOD), we finally pulled together an all-woman's weekend including the climb of Pinto Mountain and an Easter Egg hunt. The trip had gone from climbing Porter/Sentinel, to Mitchell, to Corkscrew, and finally to Pinto (most decision making was 1-2 days before the trip!).

Because it was Easter weekend, the traffic was terrible on Good Friday. Even though several of us had the day off, it took awhile for us to carpool and get to the camp spot just outside Joshua Tree National Park. We got off the Mecca-Twentynine Palms exit, Cottonwood Springs Road, then traveled the .7 mile to just before the Joshua Tree National Park entrance. At that point, we turned on an excellent dirt road, which goes both to the left and right. We went to the left and found a great spot, with campfire ring.

We gathered about 6:00 PM, and had time for a great dinner and campfire. Ellen Senior had to leave the next day after the hike, so she tossed most of the wood on the fire (after all, SHE brought most of it!) , until we looked up pleading with her to leave us a stick or two for the next night. We had a pood laugh about it.

Saturday morning we got up about 6:00 am to fix coffee with Baileys and Khalua, plus biscotti and fruit - a much more sensible breakfast than the typical DPS granola bar. We even had a fingerbowl to wipe our fingers! It was a bit of a drive to the peak, so we didn't actually start the climb until about 8:00 am. Talk about stopping to smell the flowers!! There were white primrose and purple sand verbena all over the desert - we lay down in the flowers to take pictures, and really felt like we were in another world. The main flower areas were on the desert floor, as we hiked to the base of the peak. Many of the barrel and prickly pear cactus were blooming, though the ocotillo and others were not.

Finding the peak was fun - Evelyn and Christine were constantly looking at the maps, Christine trying to hone her map reading skills. Of course, the peak is always behind what is visible from the cars, and Evelyn was "right on" when she said the peak was not in the back, but on the front cone we saw. The high point is out of view from the cars.

There was no real leader on the trip, it just all came together the way it was supposed to. Ellen was in the front most of the way, and the group just followed, including Carol's pup Mandy and my Maggie. We kept each other in view, and made it on top of the peak about 11:30. It was hot when we started, but windy and downright cold on top of the peak because of the storm that LA was getting on Saturday. The winds were preceding what we were to get. On the summit, we had cookies and chocolate covered jelly beans (it's Easter after all), plus the regular food. Ellen led the way back to the cars, arriving about 3:00 pm, with no mishaps.

By the time we got back to the campsite, the storm had arrived. We pulled two jeeps back to back, and put up tarps with string and clothespins. Because there were only 7 of us, we could all fit in the area. A table went up, and the food came out. Evelyn began barbecuing chicken in a portable grill, sitting on her tailgate, and holding an umbrella over the grill to keep the rain off. While sitting under the tarp, we decorated Easter eggs (Christine and Nancy had brought) with magic markers, then decorated paper bag Easter baskets. Little did we know the consequences of not putting on bright colors....

The rain stopped at a reasonable time (only rain on the trip), and we could enJoy the campfire once again. Sitting around the fire, someone mentioned regrets about not having "smores." Silence. Someone eventually said, "I have some of those little sugar-coated Easter bunnies." Someone else said, "I have a Hershey bar." Yet another person said, "I have Matzo's." So, a few nameless few of us roasted Easter bunnies and enjoyed Smores.

Our instructions with the Easter baskets were to hide the egg that was in the bag (it wasn't the bag-owner's egg) within certain boundaries on Easter Sunday. Of course my question was, "What's the prize." Silence again, then the answer: "You find your egg." Carol lamented that whoever's egg she had was going to have a job, because it got crushed in her tent that night. We all hid eggs and, when we said "go," we all searched. There were Easter eggs all over. It was hard to find some of the eggs because they blended well with the terrain - mine was hidden in the middle of the primrose and everyone was making fun of the fact that I couldn't find it because it was so "obvious". Yeah, right. Well, I was NOT the last one to find my egg, and we all CLAPPED when Christine (who had the most white on her egg) finally found hers. We eventually packed up and everyone had left except Evelyn and I, plus Christine, Nancy and Rena (2 cars). Christine's car wouldn't start, so we had our next adventure. The battery appeared to be totally dead. We got out the jumper cables, and were nervous that we'd set them up wrong, so eventually Rena did the civilized thing and got out the BOOK. We all agreed on how they should be connected, and tried to start it up. No luck. Battery dead. Nancy started cleaning the cables on both cars, wearing plastic gloves to keep the battery stuff off her hands. Still no luck. Next move was made by Evelyn who unhooked a car hood light, which might have been draining the battery. Nancy said she had read somewhere that Coke will really clean terminals. I had a fake Coke around, so we tried it. Then we connected everything again, waited a few minutes for Christine to start her car, and like a charm, it all worked. Team effort there!

It really was a wonderful time, with wonderful people. Participants: Ellen Senior, Christine Mitchell, Nancy Mitchell, Carol McCully, Rena Tishman, Evelyn Reher, Linda McDermott and dogettes Mandy and Maggie.

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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