By: Leora Jones, Suzanne Mamedalin
Anza Borrego was definitely in full bloom for this year's event. El Nino cooperated, somewhat, and we had another successful weekend cook-off.
Normally ABSP gets about 4-5 inches of rain, but this year it has gotten over 7" since July '97. The wildflowers are spectacular and put on a good show for us. We were a bit early for the cactus and ocotillo bloom.
About 50 folks, including a large group from San Diego, started coming into our campsite, Mortero Palms, about noon on Saturday. Some had spent the morning exploring and photographing wildflowers, others climbed Sombrero Pk, and yet others drove straight in. Friday was a warm sunny day, but Saturday was quite cloudy and overcast with some threatening clouds surrounding the mountains. The rain spit off and on during the afternoon, but our cooks were fearless.
Unfortunately, some of our participants, and cooks, were probably scared off by the rain in Los Angeles but those who came, were rewarded with a great time. Our gourmet appetizers, in DPS style, were terrific. Thanks to Edna for the use of her tables. About 4pm the clouds cut loose and we got about 1/4 inch of rain in 30 minutes. Our cooks managed to work it out though. We covered the happy hour table with a space blanket, and folks either walked around enjoying the desert under umbrella, or retreated to their cars for the interim. The desert is a terrific place in all types of weather, and this was no exception. It added to our experience, and no one seemed to be bothered by it too much.
By 5:30pm or so we were tasting chili and the clouds were breaking up. In total we had four cooks. To spice things up a bit, we added a few categories to the competition. We had the best dressed cook and best presentation of the chili. Had Mike Treat not forgotten his chefs attire, he would have won both categories.
However, Suzanne wore her Alaska apron (and a little more), and took the prize for best dressed. Mike takes this seriously and won presentation with elegant white candles, which are quite difficult to keep lit in the rain, a white tablecloth, glass vase with fresh cut flowers and champagne.
We had a good campfire going to help warm things up too. While the campfire started to blaze, Marcus and Cameron Solomon helped Leora count the votes and tally up the winners. After some nice tunes on the harmonica by Ernie Spiehler, the winners were given their prizes.
We had a some good jokes, a cowboy poem or two and good socializing around the campfire. The skies continued to clear and the moon shined brightly by midnight illuminating the desert floor well into the morning.
Bright and early we got going on Sunday. Bruce and Terry had a long drive back to Santa Cruz, Jake and Sue needed to see if a grandchild had been born yet, the hikers wanted to assemble and start out before the morning heated up too much. It was a beautiful day without a cloud in the sky.
Fifteen people headed out on climbing route B at 7:30am for Jacumba. Dean and Pat Acheson drove over to the start of route A in an hour and made the climb in an easy 1.5 hours to the top.
The group headed up Mortero Wash to the palm grove, where with a little bit of rock scrambling, they quickly gained the southerly ridge. The approach is fairly straight forward by walking across the somewhat flat meadowy area to the apparent southwestern ridge, climbing and sidehilling around to the saddle with Jacumba, hiking straight up to another sandy bench, and climbing the last upward pull to the summit. This is a much longer approach than from route A (it took us about 7 hours rt) but it is wonderful with lots of wildflowers, rock outcroppings, and views. Everyone made it to the summit. Suzanne would like to especially thank Maris Valkas and Ron Jones for their lead.
We all had a wonderful time and look forward to seeing you at the 9th DPS Chili Cookoff.
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