February 7th dashing Dave celebrated his 71st birthday by getting himself invited to the Captain and Debbie Dewdrops for a down home solar cooked vegetarian dinner. DD’s culinary offerings included kale salad, lasagna, fresh baked bread, cookies and ice cream (no she didn’t make the ice cream). Thanks go to LL and BBB for provided the bread dough.
Dashing Dave being an avid fisherman was slightly disappointed to not be served a fish dish. However, to make up for this imagined slight David, did receive a special gift of a fish albeit in a significantly deteriorated state that CC and DD had been hauling around for several months in the storage compartment of their trailer. Despite the fish’s questionable state of health that Big Mouth Bass sure as hell could belt out a tune. This wonderful song has now without question become Dashing Dave’s theme song.
To top off the evening Dashing Dave and the Captain staged a remarkable comeback in defeating DD and Jezebel Jeannine in a hard fought dominoes match. Behind by almost 200 points the boys called in team psychologist Lonesome Larry, who in sharing his positive aura via the renowned “thumb shake” provided the crucial boost for the victory.
The BIG EVENT of the week was a group hike up Castle Dome Mountain about a 45 minute drive northeast of the LTVA. Details of the hike are covered in the last section of today’s blog.
Little Grand Canyon Hike
Thursday’s (February 4th) hike took our group out near the Yuma Proving Ground to the “Little Grand Canyon”. This hike is notorious for being our longest and most gruelling group hike. A small but hardy group of hikers made the trek this year and were rewarded with seeing several mountain sheep in the hills along the trails.
Pot Holes Hike
After last Thursday’s hike this week’s (Feb 11th) trek to the Pot Holes was a more sedate affair. Given that the temperature was getting up to the high 80’s it is just as well this relatively short hike of 4 miles was in the books by noon.
Conquering Castle Dome
Tuesday February 9th was the day DD and CC had been thinking about for a couple of years. On a daily basis we are treated to the inspiring site of Castle Dome Mountain off on the northeast horizon. And now after a few years of talk, it was time to walk the walk. Lonesome Larry was able to secure the services of notable retired Sherpa Guide, Fathomless Fred, to guide us up the mountain. A small but select group of courageous hikers (Lonesome Larry, Johnny Wells, Debbie Dewdrops and the Captain) were chosen for the mountain assault supported by Busty Barb the Believer and Mary Wells at base camp.
Special Note: Johnny Wells will now identified in this Blog as Wikie Wells (WW), short for Wikipedia Wells given his ability to dispense an over-flowing stream of data on almost every subject raised.
By 7 a.m. (very early by LL’s standards) the climbing team headed out to the mountain. A 45 minute drive brought us to the trail head where we loaded up our packs and headed down the wash to base camp which we are able to find despite a wee bit of a wrong turn down a dead end canyon that added an extra ½ mile to the trip.
A mile further up the wash brought us to the beginning of the actual ascent. Before going on here are a few minutiae of the climb:
Fathomless Fred – 75 years old, 5th ascent
Elevation at parking lot – 1500 feet
Elevation at Base Camp – 1750 feet
Elevation at start of ascent – 2000 feet
Elevation at base of the “Thumb” – 3450 feet
Elevation at top of Castle Dome – 3754 feet
Ascent time form parking lot to base of the “Thumb” – 3 hours, 45 minutes
Ascent from base of “Thumb” to peak – 25 minutes
Descent to Base Camp – 3 hours, 20 minutes
Fortunately for the climbing team the entire ascent was in the shade of the mountain with a reasonable temperature in the low 60’s. Once the first 3rd of the ascent was completed, the climb became steeper and more treacherous with large sections containing a lot of loose gravel and stone that encouraged slipping where it wasn’t really advisable to do so. Arriving at the bottom of the top cliffs we skirted across the face and up to the base of the Thumb where we broke for lunch. A wrong step here would have been catastrophic with a rather hard landing 1500 feet below.
The final assault team of FF, LL and the Captain climbed hand over foot for most of the remaining 300 feet to the top. The incredible views were only modestly muted by a bit of haze and not soon to be forgotten.
The trek down was in some ways more difficult than the ascent due to the tendency to want to involuntarily ski down some of the gravel sections and now being in the heat of the afternoon sun. The team managed it successfully however with only a few minor scrapes and scratches and made it back to the LTVA by 5:30 p.m. Despite the rigour of the day DD and CC are looking forward to a return to the mountain, possibly this season with the intent of dragging Hawk and Red Fox along who were perhaps conveniently out of town for this one.
Jeanine’s Just Get Over It
JJ did not want her domino loss publicized so I expect she will soon be complaining.
Ha! Ha! Ha!