Smith Mountain


By: Greg Roach



The meeting place for this trip was in Greenwater Valley north of State Highway 178. The Greenwater Valley Road as mentioned in the Peak Guide is now called the Furnace Creek Wash Road and is signed. The meeting time was 7:30 a.m. Saturday morning at the junction of the Furnace Creek Road (old name Greenwater Valley Road) and the Gold Valley Road 10.5 miles north of State Highway 178. There is a good camping spot on the Gold Valley Road just west of this junction. Many of the people in our group camped here Friday night. After meeting our group consolidated into high clearance vehicles for the drive into Gold Valley. The road going into Gold Valley is poor and high clearance is mandatory. Some drivers may find 4 wheel drive helpful. However, I did drive my 1988, 4 cylinder, 4 wheel drive Toyota pick-up truck in 2 wheel drive out of Gold Valley with no problem.

We had a large group for this outing because it was a quadruple list finish. That morning there was a long string of cars going into Gold Valley it looked like we had us a convoy. The first and last cars stayed in communication by 2-way radios. These little radios work very well on DPS trips both for carpooling and on the hike when the group is large and gets spit into a fast and slow group. The procession to the trailhead was done in an orderly fashion, and the hike started at 9:30 a.m. The route in the guide put us on the summit by lunchtime.

Just before we reached the summit who should appear but Ron Bartell, Christine Mitchell, and Dave Boyle who where waiting for us. They had hike up from the west side of the mountain. They started early that morning at highway 178 in Death Valley south of Mormon Point. Ron said that the class 2 ridge they followed went well.

The gain was over 6000 feet in about 5 miles.

Elaine and Dave Baldwin were first on the summit making them list finishers’ number 140 and 141 respectively. Greg and Mirna were second time list finishers’ number 13 and 14. Then the celebration began! Everyone was smiling. The champagne corks were popping and everyone was congratulating us. The DPS flag was proudly displayed as the group posed for pictures. The celebration on the summit was over and hour long. In honor of this special occasion Linda McDermott gave Mirna and Elaine handcrafted trivets she had made. Then Linda presented us with the traditional list finish pins and the becoming traditional Burger King Crowns. [I just ate some margarine, TATA-TA-TAH, and this crown appeared on my head. Remember the old Imperial Margarine commercial?] We felt like royalty. Thank you all for the pins. Today was also “Bobcat” Thompson’s birthday so during lunch we sang Happy Birthday to him. After the peak celebration the group returned to the cars about 3:00 p.m. Then retraced our diving route back to State Highway 178.

Neal Scott found a good group camping site in the open desert outside the National Park boundary on the East side of Furnace Creek Wash Road about 3 miles south of State Highway 178 next to some hills. (The signed Furnace Creek Wash Road jogs west for about a mile on State Highway 178 before continuing south to State Highway 127.) The celebration continued as soon as camp was established. There was great food and comradeship at the campsite everyone brought such good food. Some of the exotic meals served up were: Tomas’s famous chile, EB&DB’s fish tacos and margaritas, Ellen’s pork roast, Mirna’s street stand tamales, Linda & Jim’s quesadillas and salad and many more too numerous to mention. Special thanks goes to David and Jan for bringing a beautiful cake with our pictures on it. A wonderful campfire set the mood for the party as fireworks compliments of Scot Jamison and Jack Wickel lit up the evening sky. Linda McDermott got each of us to reminisce about the DPS list and the fun peaks we had climbed together. It turns out that Dave, Elaine, Mirna and I have climbed over half of the DPS list together. Mirna and Elaine exchanged presents they made for each other. Elaine presented us with a beautiful picture album of some desert peaks we had climbed together complete with watercolor paintings. Mirna presented Elaine and Dave with a framed collection of pictures and memorabilia from past climbs. The DPS has a great list of peaks and we enjoyed climbing them a second time at a slower pace and some by different routes then the first time.

Later that night Jim Hinkley volunteered to take 6 famous ladies, Linda McDermott, Judy Hummerich, Janet Damen, Julie Rush, Mirna Roach, and Tillie, the dog, to the Tecopa Hot Springs for a soak in the mineral waters. He loaded the ladies in the back of Linda’s brand new truck just like they were being smuggled across the boarder. So, the ladies named Jim, “The Coyote”. Later in the night the Coyote was heard howling at the full moon.

Sunday morning we enjoyed a pancake breakfast. Linda made pancakes for the whole group. Wow! Thanks again Linda no wonder so many people stayed in camp Sunday morning.

Thanks to everybody who joined us and made this a memorable event. The participants were: Pat Acheson, Dean Acheson, Dave Baldwin, Elaine Ba1dwin, Mike Baldwin, Ken Barr, Brydon Barr, Ron Bartell, Eric Beck, Lone Beck, Dave Boyle, John Cheslick, Gary Craig, Janet Damen, Edna Erspamer, Terry Flood, Rich Gnagy, Ron Grau, Ellen Grau, Ed Herman, Jim Hinkley, Delores Holladay, Ron Hudson, Judy Hummerich, Sandy Huston, Charlie Knapke, The Lakey Family, Doris Lance, Linda McDermott, Christine Mitchell, Mary Motheral, Rayne Motheral, Gary Murta, Ann Perkins, Dave Perkins, Patty Rambert, David Reneric, Julie Rush, Neal Scott, Annemarie Shober, Steve Smith, Shane Smith, Skyler Smith, Ann Stewart, Tom Sumner, Carol Synder, Bobcat Thompson, Judy Ware, Devra Wasserman, Richard Whitcomb, Jack Wickel, Sara Wyrens, and Robert Young.

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