DPS 60th ANNIVERSARY EVENT: New York Butte (10,668') 2X, Pleasant Point (9,690') 4X September 13-16, 2001
The horrific events of the past week didn't deter some 36 climbers to convene for this 60th Anniversary gathering of the Desert Peaks Section. Tragically then, too, one month after the section was formed, Pearl Harbor was attacked.
We had planned this trip for months, and many people had made committments. I felt a reschedule was in order, but the trip, after the days of constant news, was welcome for myself. And, now without a car, I have to take what opportunities I can get!
My buddy Fred and I motored south along U.S. 395. Fall colors were starting to appear in the aspen. My film camera jammed, but luckily, I brought a back-up camera.
Staying a night in Bishop, CA, I noted the patriotic fervor with flags lining the streets. Official flags were at half-mast. Cars carried flags on their antennas. We are united as then before.
The next day, we chose to motor up Mazourka Peak (9,412'). A good dirt road leads to the summits. This bump has a commanding view of the High Sierra and the Owens Valley in the area of Independence, CA. We drove back down and enjoyed a meal in Lone Pine, CA. A nearby campground provided a good night's rest.
Meeting the DPS group in Keeler, CA, we carpooled and motored up to Cerro Gordo, an historic site. Taking the Swansea-Cerro Gordo 4WD Road, we drove some 18 miles to the Burgess Mine site along the crest of the Inyo Mountains. Parking, we hiked the mile or so to the summit of New York Butte.
This peak has one of the best desert views, with the High Sierra again to the west, and the Saline Valley and the Death Valley area to the east. Initially, we had maybe 60 climbers signed up, but, after changes in plans, some 35 were left to make the top. Having lunch, we could appreciate the work done by our trucks. I had climbed the 6,000' gain from the bottom once on a DPS hike led in 1985.
Hiking back, some of us chose to also climb Pleasant Point, another peak on our list. Bristlecone pines, the oldest living things on Earth, grace the north slopes of these peaks. The late afternoon light made for dramatic views, here also. Nearly getting stuck with one of our vehicles, we drove out back to the highway, CA 136, and motored east to a highly remote, primitive campspot in the rolling land west of Death Valley National Park.
Here we gathered for a fine nighttime feast, with barbequed chicken, salads, fruits, and drink, and then watched a desert slide show presented by our leaders and hosts. The campfire circle was entertained by a park geography quiz, and prizes were given out. It was indeed a pleasure to see your old desert peak climbing companions!
After a pancake breakfast the next morning, Fred and I left to head home. We made a side trip to the town of Darwin, CA, and I shot more photos of the views from U.S. 395. Thinking at first to do some more climbing, Fred's knees were too sore to do any much more uphill and downhill. My thoughts were to return home to my computer and share the excellent views and pictures of the early arrival of the golds and reds of the aspens.
I did some 3 miles with 1,700' gain. I shot some 600 digital images and movie clips (1 MB, 0:13, 320 x 240 pixels), and shared our expenses by getting most of the food and gas bills. A truly sad and somber time, but we all have to move on.
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