Leader: Les Stockton
Asst.: Pat Beckman
Shirley Akawie Makes 200 Peaks
At 7:30 a.m. on a bleak windy morning, with rain possibilities, 57 hardy souls walked up the 1 mile road from Mill Creek picnic grounds to the steep fuel break at the foot of Strawberry. The climb was set up as a loop trip so you made all the peaks or you didn't make any. Climbing fuel breaks (fire trails) is always instant elevation (or loss), but the tigers can climb as fast as they desire and the tail enders can assume their desired pace so everyone was happy. We assembled the entire group at each summit so the speedy chow-hounds were able to eat lunch four times. On Rabbit, the first peak, it was so cold, we were almost blown off the mountain, while one hour later the higher summit of snow covered Granite was warm and comfortable in the suddenly appearing sunshine. With a slight loss and gain we leisurely walked in the snow to Round Top and officially ate lunch at 12:15 p.m. Now most of the elevation gain was behind us and the moist fuel breaks made ridge running completely safe, fast and enjoyable. I was happy to see people who had never run downhill before making speedy descents.
On Iron, we followed Shirley Akawie up her 200th summit and the group violated wilderness quiet with a rendition of "For she's a jolly good hiker". Shirley is our first female 200 peak emblem holder and a fitting example she is to the fair sex!
Zigzagging directly down Iron, jumping over and around the brush and "trees" was exhilarating. Instant elevation means instant descent and the long though speedy down climb brought the conquest of four peaks to an end at 2:00 p.m. - a really fun day, by now warm and bracing. the bracing part was represented by the champagne and cake served by the Akawie family, although "teetotaler" Bob Funke insisted it was water.
At 2:00 p.m. the day is not over, so the leader (curse you, red baron) scheduled two more peaks - Gleason and Iron. The long ride through the snow and mud resulted in two quick climbs for 20 hardy individuals. The leader was disappointed, when he found the road cable down, that nobody wanted to drive to the saddle and climb Fox and Condor in the dark. However, despite this minor frustration (!), he would like to congratulate the entire group for making this trip so enjoyable.