Desert Peak Bush-whacking (or is that Manzanita-whacking?)

Forty-two years ago (1971) our friend, Jim Scott, embarked on a quest to complete a list of peaks of 99 peaks in the desert southwest and Mexico. The “Desert Peaks List” was compiled by the Los Angeles Chapter of the Sierra Club’s Desert Peak Section (DPS). Some of the more interesting peaks on the list are Weaver’s Needle and Baboquivari in Arizona, Picacho Peak in California and everyone’s favorite El Picacho del Diablo (Devil Peak) in Mexico.

Fast forward to 2013. Jim, along with longtime friends Burt Falk, Dave Cooper, Ginni Greer, Gary Hoover, Diane, and Charlie headed out to finish the List on Spirit Mountain in southern Nevada. I wish I could say the hike was uneventful but why should it be? We started up a gully to gain a ridge which appeared to connect up with the ridge traversing over to the summit. As we all know, appearances can be misleading. For that matter who was “leading”? Oh well, we’re just here to have fun so let’s go up as high as we can, descend down into the next gully as far as we can, go back up to the next ridge, and so on and so forth.

Everyone had a different opinion where the route was supposed to go. In his usual fashion, Charlie took off to do some “exploring” and located what he thought would be the key to reaching the summit. Back up to the ridge he went to inform the group of his find. “Ok Charlie, you go that way. We’ll take an easier route.” What a bunch of cowards!

Burt & Diane happy to be on a marked path

Well, Charlie did his route which included some 5.8 bushwhacking in Cat Claw and Manzanita to the top of a 200′ waterfall. Hey, no problem. After an airy traverse and scramble up the other side of the gully, he miraculously arrived on a well-defined trail complete with cairns. Better to be lucky than good. He signaled his companions, who by this time were well above him, attempting to surmount a very nasty rock rib. The larger group managed to work their way around the rock rib to join him, muttering something about his route being a “death wish.”

Jim atop his 99th Desert Peak

Everyone again had on their “happy face” now that we were on a trail (okay, a path of sorts with cairns) and hiking up toward the summit. The remainder of the hike was a breeze and Jim literally jumped with joy upon completing his quest. We followed the well-marked trail back out to our vehicles, wondering how we could have missed the turn we needed to make early during the hike.

(Charlie completed the Desert Peaks List in 2004 along with Burt Falk and Gerry and Jennifer Roach. Diane has climbed about 20 – 25 of the peaks on the list — she didn’t keep track.)

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