Leaders: Alan Coles, Frank Goodykoontz
This trip did not start out on the best of circumstances. War broke out in the Middle East 2 days before. Late Friday night in the Monument about 10 miles past the gate, a National Park Ranger was checking the time it took people to drive that far under the pretense of a "survey" (those over an allotted time will probably get speeding tickets in the mail). When we finally got to our reserved site at Sheep Pass Group CG, a rather unruly group of people had already occupied it (they said they were Boy Scouts). They claimed to have it reserved but when they showed me their ticket, it was for the 15, 16 and 17th. So much for the motto, "Always be prepared". They were able to get another site and finally left ours after midnight.
I had reserved site number 6 which is probably the best one since it is located in a nice rock formation a good distance from the other sites. Several people showed up Friday night after being confused by the strange people at the site. Many more showed up Saturday morning at 7 am bringing the total up to 14. Things got going pretty slowly since none of us had a good night's rest.
The road past the ranger station to the primary route for Quail is now more formally closed off. It has always been off-limits to the general public since it is on private land. You can hike from the main Loop Road around the private land to the peak adding another 3 miles to the trip but a far more interesting route is from the northeast starting at the Quail Springs Picnic area (listed as the alternate route in the peak guide). We started at this point on a clear, cool and partly breezy day around 8:20 am and cross-countried SW up through a nice canyon (this is not the route mentioned in the peak guide), crossed over a low saddle before dropping into Johnny Lang Canyon. From there we continued SW up the ridge to the west of Lang Mine and over bump 5405 (where I spotted several sheep) and on over to Quail reaching it by 10:40. An early lunch was taken on this enchanting summit then we departed and returned to the cars before 1 pm.
After a short regrouping at the campsite, we drove over to the Queen Mtn trailhead. The peak guide is in error as you can no longer drive over the small hill that is before the peak (which is no great loss). We hiked up this very interesting summit using the fairly standard route that is not well described in the peak guide, reaching the summit before 3. This peak has some of the best views of the surrounding rock formations. We returned the same way arriving back at the cars after 4 pm.
There was just enough time to nab Ryan so the truly hardy (or desperate) raced up to the summit getting there in 30 to 45 minutes. Getting down took almost as much time in the semi-darkness but that was OK since the campsite is right next to the trail.
That evening some went into town but the remainder stayed and enjoyed a nice community salad. The air was calm for a change and a bit on the cold side which is normal for a January night. Almost everyone crawled into bed around 8:30 and enjoyed a good night's rest.
Sunday, Laura Webb and Dorothy Pallas joined us bringing the total to 16. We got going a little bit easier with calm, partly cloudy skies. We drove over to do Bernard and Little Berdoo using mostly 4WD and higher clearance vehicles. (The peak guide does not mention that this road is very sandy in places with some rocks and is not recommended for 2WD. 4WD vehicles with good clearance can usually make it without problems if they don't stop in the sandy portions.)
We parked our cars at the 12.5 mile mark where there is a wide parking area on the right (this is .5 miles before the Monument Boundary and the starting location mentioned in the peak guide). From here we hiked WNW up the gentle canyon which comes out to a saddle overlooking the main canyon between Bernard and Little Berdoo. We continued north in this very likeable canyon which is very shallow at this point and left it where it turns NE and then contoured on the west slope before dropping into another nice canyon. From here it was a very gentle straight shot to the summit of Bernard reaching it in only one hour.
From Bernard we followed the ridge over to Little Berdoo, had a nice early lunch again and then dropped in the canyon to the east. From there I left a little too early necessitating a short steep drop and climb over a deep gully before climbing back up and into the shallow valley. We got back to the cars before noon and drove back to our campsite for the last time that weekend.
Some had enough and left, some went to do other peaks and only 7 remained to do Lost Horse and Inspiration. Both were done in reasonable times using the standard routes and all were back at their cars at Keys View before 4:45 under a darkening cloud covered sky. A good group and a nice weekend.
Participants: Erik Siering, George Schroedter, Devra Wasserman, Hoda Shalaby, George Pheiffer, Jennifer Lambelet, Janet Phun, Delores Holladay, Linda Avila, Jean Nelson, Lew Amack, Pete Doggett, Laura Webb and Dorothy Pallas. Many thanks once again to Frank.