Throop Peak, Mount Burnham, Mount Baden-Powell, Ross Mountain
11 July 2001
By: Karen Isaacson Leverich
Leaders: Byron Prinzmetal and Mars Bonfire
"This is the most I've ever climbed to get off a peak."
"This is one great tree here." (Shade! A breeze!)
"Wow!" (Me, upon regaining Baden-Powell and seeing the fabulous view of the Mojave Desert. There wasn't breath to spare for more words.)
Yesterday was one great hike. There were ten of us when we started out, and (oh happy day) ten of us when we returned. Mars Bonfire (on his 200th lead) and Byron Prinzmetal led most of the way, with Sandy Sperling and Mars leading Throop. (Most of us, knowing what was in our future, detoured around and skipped that peak.) Also along were Bob Beach, Brooks Treidler, Joe Gross, Karen and Brian Leverich, Ping Pfeffer, and Ingeborg Prochazka.
My compliments again to our leaders, not only for getting us to the peaks and back safely, but for arranging wonderful weather. That Ross must be an oven a lot of the time, but yesterday it was only pleasantly warm, with the occasional (very) welcome breeze. I don't know how they do it, I'm impressed!
We started out at Dawson Saddle. Mars, Sandy and Joe split off to do Throop, intending to rejoin us at Baden-Powell. As we were switch-backing up Burnham, Ingeborg spotted a mystery hiker above us on the hill. We thought it might be Joe, but to Byron it sure looked like Ron Zappen. When we finally made it to the top of Burnham, Ron wasn't there, but Mars and Joe were, with Sandy arriving almost immediately. Will the Waterman rendezvous be so precisely timed? (No, wait, we were supposed to rendezvous on Baden-Powell, not Burnham. That wasn't precise at all, if we were on a totally different mountain.)
We were on Baden-Powell by 10AM, looking down down down upon Ross. We couldn't spot Ron Zappen, but having seen his signature in the Baden-Powell register, were pretty sure he was down there, somewhere. Byron attempted to talk some sense into us, telling us what a long way down there it was, and in particular, what a loooooooong way back up it would be, and hot, and miserable. We of course ignored him. With Mars picking the route, we were on our way down.
Um, if you've never been to Ross, Byron was right. It's one long steep hike down, on bare rocky slopes. Why anyone in their right mind would ever go there...
Everyone seems to have their own speed for picking their way down a slippery rocky slope. Ping and I ended up by ourselves, in the middle. Whenever I couldn't spot the trail, I'd ask her what she thought. "Go up!" she always said, and she was always right, even though the route was still down down down at that point. How does she do that? Maybe she knew if we got a little higher, we'd spot the trail. Or maybe she's used to peaks where the peak is higher up (novel concept that that is!) Or maybe (I think this is the answer) she's one smart lady. Anyhow, she got us through, and we caught up with the group on the bump before Ross, with Byron and the rest arriving soon thereafter. While we were still regrouping, who should show up but Ron Zappen (we were vaguely expecting him) and a surprise, George Wysup. They'd apparently not started together, but just bumped into each other.
After a bit of a gabfest, the group got itchy to go on and get there. So off we went, over a few more minor ups and downs, admiring some well-cut branches (thanks to Mars, Ron, and George!), not even pausing for the can on the peak, but heading straight for a very nice shady tree just past it.
Luncheon topics included complimenting Mars on his color-coordinated hiking attire (apparently a fashion statement in honor of his 200th lead), and a discussion of how Mallory's body was left (and eventually found) on Everest. What would happen if we left someone on Ross? Morbid, us? Though I suppose looking up at Baden-Powell, so far above us, knowing we were soon going to have to go there, should excuse a certain amount of morbidity.
Ten went down (twelve, if you count Ron and George), and we all came out, carrying our own gear, with lots of daylight to spare. Did I say this hike was wonderfully led? Of course it was. And I think the most wonderful moment of all was being back on top of Baden-Powell, admiring the views, enjoying the breeze. "I'm SOOOOOOOO happy!" said Ping, having saved her moment of triumph until she knew she was safely off her 255th peak.
There was still the small matter of getting off Baden-Powell to the cars. Rather than going all the way back to the cars, Byron had Sandy lead us down a ridge off Burnham, as pedagogical practice towards her I rating. He had lots of advice and asked a lot of questions. "Look ahead and decide where you're going. Always know why you went this way instead of that. Keep track of where you are on the map. Look back and see how the group is doing." Etc. I'm not sure Sandy had a lot of fun, but she did a great job, bringing us out at the highway next to Byron's prepositioned car. We'd done it! Mars had led 200 peaks, Ping had bagged #255, Brian and I both reached #50 (#51 in my case). And it was still three hours before sunset!
Back in town, Brian and I in our car followed Sandy in hers, seeking sustenance. She went a few blocks, then turned right into Panda Panda. (An excellent choice, by the way.) "So, Sandy," I asked, "why did you turn there? Were you looking three blocks ahead and planning the route? Were you looking back to make sure we were still there?" She's going to be a great leader, with remarkable patience: she didn't throw anything at me in spite of the provocation.
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