Leaders: Diane Dunbar, Frank Goodykoontz
18 happy people met at the junction of Hwy 62 and Hwy 247 in Yucca Valley at 7:00 AM on 4/30/1994. The weather was perfect, with chilly air, warm sun, and clear skies.
We all divided into five 4WD vehicles and caravanned past the West entrance to Joshua Tree National Monument, to the Geology Tour Rd, and on across the desert toward the Little Berdoo Mountains.
This was Diane Dunbar's checkout hike for her "I" rating. The route chosen to Bernard and Little Berdoo was not the conventional route from the HPS writeup. It was, instead, an alternate route, a favorite of the Coach's and had been scouted the end of last year.
When everyone had parked and put on their boots and packs, Diane announced she and Frank had just taken Wilderness First Aid, and requested that someone please injure themselves so they could practice. A few hikers even agreed to do so, asking what kind of injury would be preferred!!!
As soon as Diane took a compass bearing from the cars to the opening of the canyon, the group set off.
There were several species of cacti in glorious bloom, and the ground was covered with a blanket of multicolored flowers. This canyon is typical of most of the canyons in Joshua Tree, with rugged rocks, occasional catsclaw to avoid, and lots of grey-green juniper.
A brief break was taken at a little double saddle to show the group the other canyon down below (the one in the HPS writeup) and the group continued on up the same canyon. At the point where the canyon turned North, they turned SW and sidehilled around an "intermediate bump", eventually meeting up with a second canyon at a place where the sides were gradual and it was not too deep. Bernard Pk, visible part of the way at the beginning of the hike, loomed again into view toward the top of this new canyon, disappearing again as the group approached the exit point.
The group climbed up a steep slope and over another rise and there in all its glory was Bernard itself. The group sat around on the summit block pointing out San Jacinto, San Gorgonio, the Salton Sea, and many other landmarks, all visible from this one peak.
After a short break, the group followed Diane along a ridge and over and around two high points. Frank (the coach) pulled his usual amazing trick twice on this ridge. When all the group is together after negotiating a high point, and looking behind them for the sweep, he magically appears in front of them instead, in a nonchalant way. Where he comes from, nobody knows, but you can be sure that, as a sweep, he had the group in sight at all times.
From here, another little ridge led up to Little Berdoo, where Diane bandaged someone's scraped hand. Again, everyone marvelled at the view and ate Vi Grasso's chocolate cookies.
The route back from Little Berdoo was beautiful rough XC, back to the double saddle where the group had been shown the HPS route on the way up, and a reverse bearing from the original canyon's mouth led them directly back across the desert floor to the cars. The hike lasted 4 3/4 hours.
Again, the 4WD vehicles wended their way across that desert plain toward the Geology Tour Road. Later, passing the original meeting point, they drove to Black Rock Canyon Campground, parking at the Ranger Station.
Together the group set off again, this time XC across the desert toward Black Rock Spring. It was very green on that route, with lots of flowers here, too. The spring had water in it, in the middle of this dry place! A swarm of bees was sitting around on the ground around it, though, so it was passed quietly and quickly. The group climbed a ridge to Warren Point, celebrating Diane's successful checkout hike with champagne, sparkling cider and chips and salsa on the summit.
The route down was further down Black Rock Canyon than groups usually descend, and offered a chance to see parts of that beautiful canyon that are usually missed on most hikes. They returned to the cars in less than 3 hours from the starting time, and a tired happy group left for home, Southern nursing a Cholla puncture.
Participants: Diane Dunbar, Frank Goodykoontz, Vi Grasso, Keith Martin, Bill Sheehan, Ann Bennett, Susan Rubio, Kay Rogowski, George Thomas, Roxana Lewis, Southern Courtney, Stephen Bache, George Schroedter, Walia Ringler, Betty Stirratt, Ralph Turner, Eileen Ricks, and Gwen Hembrock.
This was a very supportive, very upbeat, fun group to have on a checkout hike, and nobody ever had a better coleader and evaluator than Frank. This leader appreciates everyone involved. Thank You!!!