By: Sue Holloway & Linda McDermott
With reports of bad weather coming from every available source of information, the group decided "Who cares? Let's go for it..." So, the third annual all-woman's trip started with the group carpooling to the Silverton Casino (at the 160 exit off of 1-15, south of Vegas) where the group had dinner. During dinner, Christine Mitchell let it slip that she had never (EVER!) put any money into a slot machine. The rest of the group quickly decided that she simply had to savor the experience at least once in her life. Linda played the bank and gave Christine a couple of quarters with the stipulation that she had to play the "Elvis" machines. Christine's no dummy so she quickly figured out how to play the electronic marvel and how to lose Linda's money, though at one point she had doubled her advance and actually had 4 quarters in her hand.
Reluctantly, the group left the warm casino and started the drive toward the Potosi area. While the road was clear, snow covered many of the potential camping areas and Vanna (Sue's van) got stuck in the snow in one area. Ruth Non-nan managed to give a mighty push and saved the day. It was very cold near the pass and the road going down the other side of the pass was covered with snow and ice so the group drove back to the highway and found a suitable area for the vehicles. Unfortunately, the sounds of semi-trucks passing were frequent enough to keep those in tents awake much of the night.
Saturday morning was very cold and since the weather was iffy, we wanted an early start. We drove back in toward the Potosi trailhead and met Barbara Guerin from San Diego who joined the group. We piled into Christine's 4WD and proceeded to the Route C trailhead. (PLEASE NOTE THAT ROUTE A IS NO LONGER A VIABLE ROUTE DUE TO THE NUMEROUS "PRIVATE PROPERTY" POSTINGS IN AND AROUND THE TRAILHEAD. IN ADDITION, A NEW HOUSE HAS BEEN BUILT IN THAT AREA AND IT APPEARS TO BE OCCUPIED FULL-TIME.)
The climb of Potosi went easily, with about a foot of snow at the top adding to the fun. Since one of the purposes of this trip was to practice navigation, the group stopped frequently to check the map, identify landmarks and, occasionally, to set waypoints on Sue's GPS. Amazingly enough, even with all the snow, the register (in POOR condition) was located and signed. Pictures were taken on the descent, including one of Linda making a snow angel.
The group then proceeded toward the McCullough trailhead. Since the leaders had heard that the drive-in to the trailhead of Route A could be somewhat confusing, we had gotten more current information about another more straightforward drive and with some choices of camping areas only several miles off the highway. (Note: Follow the instructions in the DPS Peaks Guide except stay on Nipton Road for approximately 13 miles to a dirt road turnoff - 0676350E/3930800N. Turn left (N) on the excellent dirt road. Within the first 2-3 miles we had several choices for camping and the road, as far as we drove in, was easily accessible to even Barbara's low clearance 2WD sedan.) Evelyn Reher got updated weather reports during the evening from her HAM radio. Though we had lucked out on Saturday, it seemed unlikely that would be the case on Sunday. An early departure time was planned.
Sue gave the wake-up call and was informed that it had rained some during the night (sleeping in a big van obviously muted the sound!) and the skies looked very threatening. We decided to wait 30 minutes. Sue and Christine studied maps while the others slept. Since the McCullough trailhead was still some distance away and the weather looked even worse than earlier, we decided to have breakfast and then head toward the trailhead for DPS Spirit Mtn. Christine rigged up the tarp between two of the vehicles, Evelyn made cappuccino and provided bagels and cream cheese and we enjoyed breakfast, fully protected from the hail.
In spite of the weather predictions AND black skies in all directions .... except one little hole of light toward Spirit ... we drove toward that light to the Spirit trailhead. We quickly got ready for the climb, knowing that things would get worse not better with the passage of time. The climb was aborted when it started to pour and the wind picked up and, reluctantly, the group turned back and started hiking toward the vehicles. A couple of minutes later, someone asked "Why don't we stop for a water break and eat some chocolate?" Once again, the decision was unanimous.
Thanks to everyone in the group: Evelyn Reher, Barbara Guerin, Christine Mitchell, Ruth Norman, Linda McDermott and Sue Holloway. Ladies, look for the announcement in early 2001 when we're planning to climb DPS Indianhead via a ridge route that Linda knows about.....
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