By: George Wysup
While the LA area was watching 4” of rain fall on Saturday, Diane Dunbar, Sara Wyrens, and I were leading a trip to Queen Mtn. via the Dunbar-Wysup special route. This route is a bit longer, much more scenic, and just as easy as route 1 (up the steep gully). All 23 people enjoyed perfect weather-- partly cloudy, cool, and a bit of breeze for the 3.5 hour hike at a leisurely pace. One participant was Farogat Azizova, a visiting professor of ethnic musicology from Dushanbe, Tadzikistan. Fortunately, she spoke fair English, because none of us spoke passable Tadzik.
After the hike, most of us proceeded to the site of the joint DPD/HPS Chili Cookoff. The location is about 14 miles ESE of 29 Palms, about 4.5 miles up a dirt road, and just outside the Nat’l Park, so that some families could take their doggies. The dirt road was (sort of) accessible by, for example, Pontiac Grand Am’s. The creosote bush was in full bloom and there was a bounty of desert wildflowers.
The 55 or so attendees could see rain falling not so far away, but we were blessed with warmish and dry weather until about 6 pm. This allowed us to have happy hour and taste the chili under dry conditions. There were 10 chili cooks vying for prizes based on votes by the tasters who paid $5 each to taste and judge. All the chilis were cooked on site, and all chilies were quite good, better even than Hormel or Dinty Moore’s. And, all were quite different, ranging from Linda McDermott’s vegetarian tofu to some that were heavy on meat-- beef, pork, or poultry. I saw no evidence of desert road kill as an ingredient. There were some unusual ingredients-- garbanzo beans, corn, raisins (!), and mystery spices.
We sat around a camp bonfire in the rain, leading me to don my rain gear. Comment: My Lowe-Alpine hooded jacket with “triple point ceramic” waterproof breathable lining failed miserable at the waterproof part, though it seemed to breathe OK. This induced me to forego the pathfinder hike to Pinto Mtn (from the north, 12 mi. r/t) after it rained all might and Sunday morning offered the threat of more rain. I don’t know if the hike “went”, but a few people drove off at first light.
Kudos (isn’t that an African antelope?) to Suzanne Mamedalin and Leora Jones for putting on a good show, and to all the chili cooks for going to all that bother. Consider attending next March. It was fun.
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