Needle Peak, Manly Peak
By: Gene Olsen
42 participants met at Ashford Mill Ruins on Highway 178 in the south of Death Valley. One of the leaders (unnamed) was somewhat later than the published 7:00 AM departure time and was properly admonished. A caravan of 14 assorted vehicles headed up the dusty road for Willow Springs. The road is in excellent condition all the way as a result of the extensive Burro Removal Program. Rangers had earlier said that some 500 had been removed from Butte Valley. At the Anvil Spring Junction, we met 2 vehicles with 6 more people coming in over Mengel Pass. We parked at the edge of the wash just west of Willow Spring. 47 hikers started down the road for Needle at 9:45. We took the old mine road and then contoured around into the major wash. Good Burro trails were followed all the way to the Saddle on the Monument boundary. From here we went up the ridge to the summit. 45 hikers made the peak. 2 enjoyed the scenery on the ridge. For 6 people, this was their 1st peak. All did great. We were back at the care at 3:30 and off for our camp site at the high point in Red lands Canyon.
At 4:45 we noticed a plane coming in through the canyon from Panamint Valley. It passed over us at about 200 ft. and proceeded into Butte Valley where it turned and came back. This time something fell from the plane!!! After 4 years of planning, good old Jack had finally made it! The run was made 3 times during which we had 4 parachute drops of liquid refreshments and goodies for the campfire. This added some excitement to the evening - thanks to Jack. Jack, by the way, has been through BMTC. We're going to have to practice this more often. His bombardier managed to lose her sunglasses while practicing the drops on the trip out. Stuck her head out too far!
The campfire was large and the party was too. One member deserted about 9:00 to drive back to L.A. to watch the Super Bowl. Maybe he knew something we didn't. At 8:00 Sunday, 43 people started up for Manly. Ted led a good route up to the ridge and followed the ridge to the summit. This goes almost directly on the Monument Border once on the ridge. 42 hikers made the register. About half of them did the summit block. Manly is a very nice hike along a very scenic ridge. We were back at the cars at 1:30. Some people headed for Tecopa Hot Springs and others went out via Goler Wash. The weather was ideal both days. Low was 24 degrees Sunday AM.
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