Regurgitations of List Finisher
It was September, 1999. I was enjoying Mt. Baden Powell with a nice group of my Orange County buddies, when we were accosted by a crazed bunch of HPS types the likes I had never met. One leader of this merry band (Byron) was pointing and gesturing about all the other wonderful peaks around the area to be summited by others just like him. Up to that point I had been up to about 27 peaks - some like Baldy over 50 times. Well, I caved and decided to sign on to something called Ross Mountain, being hiked to the following Sunday. It looked passive enough. Lucky me, I even lived to tell about it. I was hooked.
My third HPS hike took me to someplace past Mojave. I got up at 4:00 AM and returned home at 11:30 PM. I was delighted to have actually bagged two whole peaks and slid down my first scree slope.
The next year and eight months took me to 250+ new peaks - some not even on the List yet. I even have the dreaded second list and 89 "pathfinders". Who would ever care to know what that means? What's the matter with all these peakbaggers? Don't they know what normal people do with their lives? Why have I become one of them?
It was suggested that as a List finisher I pass on a few tidbits:
Favorite Peak: Galena. A wonderful walk. I was lucky enough to cheat death. My husband took out a very large accidental death policy on me after this one.
Memorable leaders: George, Byron, Mars, Southern, Tom, Virgil, Joe, Frank, the Davids, Rosemary, Carleton, Maggie, Harvey, Asher, Will. The whole bunch does a great job of forcing hordes of unsuspecting suckers to think that something called "peak bagging" is actually some sort of sport.
Friends: Many, many. These folk even have some sort of life outside this insane activity. They are some of the fittest people I have ever met.
Wildlife: So many rattlesnakes, ticks, poodle dogs, poison oaks, so little time. I never thought that a skill such as tick-picking would be so valuable. Those little suckers are persistent! And road kill newts and squirrels - that's not fun. Have you ever seen a newt limp off uttering obscenities? They were all aimed at George Wysup, the newt-stomper.
Sleep: What happened to sleeping in until 6:00 AM? What normal person sets the alarm clock for 3:30 in order to start hiking at 9:30? And, why would there ever be a reason to grade something called Garanger? I probably spelled it wrong, but who cares? It's probably not on most AAA maps, anyway.
Vehicles: My poor jeep accumulated at least 30,000 extra miles in these last few months. I am sure she is the envy of all those poor, sissy SUVs that have to loll the day away at the gym or the mall. And I am sure they even get more bubble baths.
New Skills: Byron and Mars introduced me to the necessary skill of walking on snow with plastic platforms attached to my boots. We are even working on an emblem for reaching peaks via this method. My 20 peaks via snowshoes made me a neighborhood celebrity, I am sure.
Equipment: A new pair of boots about every 6 months. That's about right. I am sure hiking duds are cheaper (not really) than work outfits from Nordstrom's and a lot more fun to wear. I am trying to rationalize the cutback in workload. $16.00 for a pair of Smartwool socks!! Cool Max underwear? Not exactly a fashion statement. So you pay $170.00 for a pair of boots then have to fork over $28.00 for Superfeet, because the included insoles aren't good enough. Go figure! I proudly wear my special outfits as I limp into Ralph's Market for much-needed bananas and trail mix after a long day in the mountains - dirt streaming down my face, legs bloodied from Manzanita attacks, ticks crawling along my arms, poison oak sores oozing. I am indeed a delightful sight and a neighborhood treasure.
Well, it's raining. That must mean that I need to bag Monrovia Peak. Besides, I think I need it for my fourth list.
Thanx to all who attended my list finish party. I am still eating barbecued chicken and brownies. The leftover champagne will be carried via backpack to the next such event.