Mount Patterson

28-Aug-99 (List Finish)

By: Ellen Grau


It is really great when your husband is your best friend. You truly are blessed when you find some one who loves the same things you consider "fun". When I met Ron, I found not only a terrific guy, but also some one who likes to get poked and jabbed with cholla, loves to camp out and sit around a campfire, and can I t wait to have another adventure in the desert!

The DPS has long been a love of his. He once told me, "You just never know what goofy thing will happen on one of these trips." But we were also was drawn to their beauty, singularity, adventure, ruggedness, plus a sense of the "old Wild West ". For instance, on one of the trips Ron ventured on, the leader was driving up one of the dubious desert peaks roads at 50 plus miles an hour - hit a rut and ruptured his fuel pump! He simply got out his "guy" duct tape and patched it and proceeded to go on. HEY! They needed the peak!

The List Finish Parties are an essential part of the DPS experience as well. The potlucks bring out the chefs of the section and allow everyone to enjoy a desert place. The food, wine, friends, campfire, stories, songs around the campfire and the telling of experiences, all make for a wonderful time. Ron's list finish was no exception. We all met Friday night at the Hartley Springs Campground. I brought a generator to make slushy Margaritas! Well we had to experiment Friday night, and we were NOT disappointed. It was however, difficult to only have one! We had a small campfire then proceeded to bed for our next day adventure. It was hard to sleep. Ron had been doing this for 15 years and now FINALLY he was finishing the list.

The next morning we all roused from our sleeping bags and got ready for the drive to the Patterson road head. Our "wagon train" of trucks headed up the 395. We drove through little farming towns along the way and by the beautiful Mono Lake. The pine trees and mountains provided stunning views all the way there.

Once at the road head about 6 vehicles were awaiting our arrival. We all hugged and greeted and divvied up rides in the 4-wheel drive "ride shares" and proceeded on. Our route took us by more beautiful "open" country. The cows looked at us like we were from MARS. Who are these idiots anyway and WHAT IN THE WORLD are they doing trying to drive out in "OUR" pastures (even though we were on a road)? We crossed creeks and headed up hill to a point where we decided to park an then go on foot.

There is a road "of sorts" all the way to the top of Patterson. We all unloaded our packs and began the hike up. Maggie, Bogie and Gozer - MOST IMPORTANT MEMBERS OF THE CLUB sniffed and smelled and trotted up ahead. We all settled into "our pace" and began the chatting up the peak as we moseyed up the trail. The views were incredible.

As we neared the top, everyone stopped and waited for the List Finisher to lead them up the peak. Once on top everyone cheered and then the bottles of Champagne were pulled out of the packs and the toasting began. I asked all the list finishers to crowd around Ron for a picture. THAT LEFI' only 3 people out of the picture! Kind of funny. After our lunch and some toasts to the DPS GODS we started down for the trucks to head out to the party.

The group, as it had on the way up, kind of spread out. The front end of the group came upon a Ranger with a "traffic wheel" measuring the distance from our parking spot to the top of Patterson. He stated that the Park Service was thinking of "opening Patterson up to relieve the Sierra traffic" The websites had drawn crowds and they needed other places for people to go. While this was going on, the back end of the group turned around and was SHOCKED to see a jeep coming from behind them. The road directly behind the "back group" had washed out and was only about 3 feet wide with an embankment to the right, and a drop off to the left. The jeep stopped and the passenger - a woman got out, and the Jeep PROCEEDED FORWARD! You know how it is when you have one of these experiences where you want to rub your eyes because you can't believe what you are seeing. And everything kind of turns into SLO-MO? The driver gunned it, tried to drive the right side up the embankment, simultaneously to his dismay, the rear end slid DOWN the drop off. He came to an immediate halt. He got out and walked over to several List Finish Hikers whose mouths were dangling on the dirt road, NOT BELIEVING SOME ONE COULD BE THIS CRAZY! The jeep appeared to be almost ready to roll down hill. After many discussions, and by now the ranger appeared on the scene (probably thinking "yea this is just what I need today", it was decided to take the driver and passenger (brother and sister) back to Bridgeport to retrieve a tow truck or help of some sort. The sister mentioned something about the wife not liking this very much and perhaps the phrase "HELL TO PAY". Hmmm $40,000 NEW JEEP Cherokee Hmm Sure wouldn't want to be in this guy's shoes.

So back to Bridgeport to drop off the stranded Jeep Driver and then on to Hartley Springs and THE PARTY! We started off with the Margaritas and everyone brought wonderful hors'deurves for all. YUM. Then I heated up the oven and started the MICROWAVE and we had Spinach, Turkey, and Meat Lasagna. YUM. As the sun set, we all sat around the campfire and listened to songs thanks to Sue Wyman and her guitar. IT WAS A GREAT DAY! We shared stories of many of the trips that had led to this DAY. I am so blessed with good friends and wonderful experiences.

I want to thank everyone for making Ron's List Finish so memorable. I also want to thank the DPS for all our wonderful experiences and memories. OH and by the way, I am doing the list and Ron announced at the party -HE'S DOING THE LIST FOR A SECOND TIME!!!!

PS - Yes the guy in the jeep went back the next day with friends (tow truck guy is $125/hr) Dug a 40 ft x 4 ft replacement of the road and got out! He was a fighter pilot who flew off carriers in Viet Nam, and said by far -this experience was FAR SCARIER than ANYTHING he did in Viet Nam was!

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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