Leaders: Ron & Leora Jones
This was advertised as a beginners trip and 18 of us met east of Fawnskin at 7:30 am. We had about six newcomers. After a brief encounter with a friendly Fawnskin burro and the usual sign-in, introduction and orientation, we were soon caravanning to Gold Mtn. With careful guidance, Ron was able to squeeze 10 vehicles along the trailhead for Gold at 3N09. The old deteriorating road pleasantly wandered amid the junipers and pines on up to the peak. We were up and down by 10 am.
We then drove on to our next peak, Delamar. The route was direct and steep and we took our time. All made the peak, and we were down a little after noon. We enjoyed lunch at our cars before driving over to Little Bear. The Barstow Desert Rescue Team was having a practice drill nearby throughout the day.
Next stop Little Bear. A nice short hike over a few bumps took us all to the summit. Hugh Baker was kind enough to bring and place both a new register and one of his cans on the peak. Hugh has recovered from his allergy problems and is on his way to a 2nd list finish. The views of San Gorgonio and others were superb.
We led four people who were not spending the night with us on the road back to Fawnskin. The rest of us then caravanned to Grays Pk Group Campground which I had reserved in advance. I highly recommend this spot for a group site. Facilities include fire ring, pit toilets, BBQ grills and three large tables. No water is available.
After setting up camp, we had happy hour followed by a quite extensive potluck including chili, garlic bread, garbage bag salad, lemon bars, chicken picado, KFC, ratatouille, stuffed pasta shells, ravioli... We had a nice, warm campfire and told lots of stories about friends and past trips.
Around midnight, Ron heard something, and shortly after heard someone call out, "Bear!" He got up, put on shoes, and told me it was probably a raccoon or possum, but he'd check it out. Sure enough, a 500-pound black bear was standing on the picnic table eating the remaining watermelon! He was frightened off... for a while. About 30 minutes later, he returned. After rummaging through the trash, Bob's breakfast and a couple of ice chests (including Bruce's which had a steak and cottage cheese in it), he was chased off again and didn't return. He left several nice footprints for us to see in the morning light.
After our car camp breakfast, we hiked from camp over hill and dale to our last peak. Grays Peak turned out to be an adventure. We made it up to the peak fine but lots of brush near the top. On our return, we came down a little west of the campground and crossed the road in a different place than on the hike up. After some scouting and a friendly passerby on the road, we got going in the right direction again.
By 1 pm, we were on the way home. Thanks to all for making it a very pleasant trip. Participants included Hugh Baker, Carol Burns, Gerry Fettig, Mary Foltyn, Olga De La Garza, Marsha Hagen, Jean Hermansen, Flora Johnson, Brenda and Greg Jones, Jone Levis, Beth Pietras, Beverly Rawles, Steve Riepe, Bob Wheatley, Elaine and Craig Williams, and Twyla Yoshida.
Note: I reported the bear sighting to the ranger district office in Fawnskin. To my surprise, they knew of a bear in that area. I suggested that they include this information on their permit in the future.