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Silver Peak, Gold Mountain, Bertha Peak

22 August 2001

By: Karen Isaacson Leverich

Leaders: Byron Prinzmetal, Carleton Shay, Mars Bonfire

From the Summit Signature for Silver Peak, this potentially useful factoid: "[A]ny instrument tipped with silver is believed capable of killing a ghost, sorcerer, witch, giant, or a person who leads a charmed life!" Now isn't that just wonderful? After the miracle of hiking Wright, Pine and Dawson on Monday in borrowed boots, with nary a blister, and following up by having a lovely cold snap, in August!, on Silver Peak, I discover that my unexpected luck may have put me at risk if I should accidentally run into anyone with a silver-tipped instrument. You can bet I'm keeping an eye peeled.

In the meantime, what a wonderful day we had yesterday! We visited three peaks, all very different. Two of us reached our 100th peaks, which is a relief because at least theoretically we can now go back to enjoying the views and hiking, and deobsessing on the peak counts. Anyone want to place odds on that?

Yesterday's foray into the hills north of Big Bear Lake was led by Byron Prinzmetal, Carleton Shay, and Mars Bonfire. Rich Gnagy and Dave Jensen joined us for Silver and Gold, but once we moved on from the precious metals to Bertha, went their own way. Also participating were Brian and Karen Leverich, Ingeborg Prochazka, Joanne Griego, John Wilson, Tom Demarinis, Dave Comerzan, and Chris Davis. A good time was of course had by all.

Our first peak was the important one, the one that where I would reach #100 -- Silver Peak. Um, whose bright idea was it to schedule such a place in August? We're talking Joshua trees and cholla. Good thing for that cold front, or I have a bad feeling I might not have had much company for this hike. At least, not once we decided to hike it rather than drive it -- the 4WD road sounded a bit dicey, and besides, we'd all been sitting in cars too long, and were eager to stretch our legs.

It was a lovely day, sunny, breezy, pleasant. The desert environment made an interesting change and contrast with the other peaks I've recently visited. Brian, who usually is attacked by any local botanical hazard, be it yucca, poison oak, or stinging nettles, somehow managed not to connect with the cholla. Maybe there's hope? The hike itself was an interesting scramble up a rocky gully, and then along a juniper studded ridge to the peak. We passed various mines along the way (one complete with sleeping rattlesnake), and found another mine on the summit itself. "Is that the shaded route back to the car?"

There was a brief photo op while I signed the register on my 100th peak. Then Ingeborg (who would reach her 100th peak later that day, and only on Monday had been teasing me about always being impatient to move on, and never simply savoring where I was) got impatient to move on. OK, fine. This was an interesting summit, but not the most pleasant place I've ever been on an HPS outing. Gold and Bertha (which Brian and I had visited with Sandy Sperling on Saturday) were more inviting, time to go!

The descent of the gully to the cars was uneventful, except for mild concern about the rattlesnake -- it wasn't where we'd left it, so ... where was it? No matter, we didn't see it again. Then a frustrating interlude on the highway, following several apparently heavily loaded trucks, all traveling at 5MPH or less. Most of us took the opportunity to eat lunch as we rolled, so were less than hungry when we arrived at the foot of Gold Mountain. "Let's have lunch here, before the hike!" suggested Carleton.

I'd baked brownies, intending to share them as part of the celebration of reaching #100. But when I went to fetch them, Ingeborg stopped me. "No, no, that'll only slow them down! We've got to get this peak, we've got to get them moving!"

Brian and Byron decided to wait at the cars, perhaps to guard the brownies, perhaps to continue their (seemingly) endless debate about the merits of Windows -vs- Unix. The rest of us kitted up, then headed cross country up to the ridge west of Gold. Once Carleton got us tangled up in a bit too much brush, and Ingeborg whacked him with her pole (I think she was trying to break through the brush, rather than discipline him for the bad route, but who can say for sure?). On the top, most of us relaxed and enjoyed the views -- the lake to the south, Silver Peak to the north. "Come on, Karen! Come on, Mars! Let's go!" nagged Ingeborg. Eventually we let her coax us into leaving, opting to follow the road out rather than battling the brush again. She had #99, I was x2, and Mars only three peaks short of another list finish himself.

Onwards to Bertha, where we were to learn Byron's secret short cut. The climbing guide suggests a 3 1/4 mile route, 2 hours round trip. But after a trek through the woods on a rough dirt road that required all the high clearance our vehicles could muster, Byron took us basically straight up the north side of Bertha and had us on top after maybe half an hour of hiking. Not shabby!

The views from Bertha are great, but I think Gold might have been a better choice for Ingeborg and I to hit #100. In our group picture with the barbwire topped chainlink fence behind us, we look like we just escaped from prison. (Or maybe the funny farm? Perhaps this was an appropriate backdrop after all.)

I believe it was Byron who asked the important question in a previous issue of the Lookout: Do we hike to eat or eat to hike? Nothing for it but to finish the day off with a good meal, in any case.

Chris and Ingeborg assure us that they're not going steady. Yet. Stay tuned?

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