A Custom hike led by Mars Bonfire
Mars Bonfire and Dorothy Danziger were going to do these peaks late last year, but the date they chose turned out to be the first of several winter storms, and the trip was cancelled.
Time passed. The storms (temporarily, at least) stopped. It warmed up. The wind blew. Snowshoeing on nearby Grays Peak, it looked to Mars as if Shay and friends might be almost unencumbered with snow. Meanwhile, Wolf Leverich had notched his peak count up to 196 (including some truly novel pairings along the way, such as Circle and Marie Louise).
So it was that several of us (Mars, Dorothy, Wolf, myself, Janet Howell, Ingeborg Prochazka) met at the Cajon Pass McDonald's, snowshoes (just in case) in the backs of most of our vehicles, and headed towards Little (Big?) Pine Flat from the Hesperia side. Working our way through the various road closures (they seem to be doing maintenance on every road between Apple Valley and the mountains), we headed up past Round, Luna, and Rattlesnake. I wasn't in the same car as Janet, but suspect we almost didn't make it past those peaks: they're on the very short list of peaks separating her from a list finish. Why do I think she'll be back up there any day now? (It's now a few weeks later, Janet did go back, and she's currently fifteen peaks away from a list completion. Except I hatched an Evil Plan to delay her: the current brainstorm is that she, Kathy Cheever, Joanne Griego, and Wolf Leverich all finish the list this summer on Toro, and maybe I'll finish my 2X and Mars his 6X and 7X and Sandy Burnside her 3X and... well, you get the drift here, huh?)
As it turns out, snow was in relatively short supply in them thar hills. The snowshoes didn't make it onto our feet nor into our packs: they stayed sensibly in the cars.
What ensued was a very mellow day of peak bagging. The Willow Fire was before my time, but seems to have left navigation substantially less challenging than it once was. I think that will change. If you're sensitive to poodle dog (the botanical rather than the canine variety), there were places where it has totally taken over. I don't know how someone allergic to poodle dog will be able to do these peaks. And there's a lot of deadfall, too. There seems to be a conspiracy on its part: given a choice where to fall, your typical falling tree doesn't care a flit whether it makes a noise or anyone is listening. What it does to get attention is land directly across the trail. Without fail.
Getting muddled a few times as to just which peak was which (and in fact referring to one as silly, since it seemed to be downhill instead of uphill -- thus do we reward our more innovative peaks!), but finding registers on all that disambiguated things, I'm able to authoritatively state that Wolf Leverich's 200th peak was our last for the day: Hawes, no, no, Ingham, no wait, I've got it! Shay! Which Shay? Big Shay...
The only problem is, we had dawdled so long along the way that it was almost dark. Mars had in mind to shortcut back to the cars, even though the terrain isn't exactly cooperative -- all the ridges and drainages conspire to send you south and east when you really want to trend north and east. Stubbornly refusing to let the terrain dictate to us, off we went. Down and up and down and up and down and up and... The problem with going a different direction than the ridges and washes is that, of course, you to cross all of them. Having ascended a particularly annoying ridge, we were getting tired and cranky. This wasn't as much fun in the dark as it might have been. Not to worry, Mars reassured us. There were only "a few" more of these irregularities remaining.
I suppose. With time, they did get shorter and less annoying. Eventually, we were down in more easily walkable terrain, our only obstacles the occasional barb wire fence. When we hit the trail, Ingeborg and Janet zipped off, while the rest of us enjoyed a pleasant night-time stroll. (We surely weren't tired!)
The bottom line: Dorothy got three peaks towards her 3X, Wolf hit #200, I got four peaks towards my 4X, and Mars, Ingeborg, and Janet had a fine time. At least, I hope they did!