Whale Peak

30-Mar-96 (6th Annual Chili Cook-Off)

By: Leora Jones


Anza Borrego State Park was this year's location for the peak climb and chili cookoff contest. Having both the DPS and HPS represented may have made the difference, as this year was a record turnout.

Ron & I drove out Friday am to search for wildflowers as well as scout for a good camping spot. The former was quite difficult as ABSP got only 2 inches of rain versus the usual 6+ inches. Even Henderson Canyon road just outside of Borrego Springs hadn't a flower. Usually it is covered with sand verbena and primrose. The ocotillo was in full bloom with brilliant red-orange tips and a few desert dandelions and chaparossa here and there if you looked carefully.

Officially we met Saturday morning at 7am at the entrance to Pinyon Mtn Road and Whale Peak. Ron and Igor led 30 hikers without incident up and back to the cars in 4 hours. From there they caravanned over to Font's Pt Road and the camping spot for the evening off Hwy S22. As the afternoon progressed, more and more vehicles arrived and the number totaled around 60 people.

All 13 cooks were spending various amounts of time preparing their entries. Some were barbecuing meat, others chopping onions or garlic, and yet others sauteing and mixing various ingredients to add to their chili. The cooks included: Jeff Solomon, Bill Gray, Keats Hayden, Jim Hinkley, John Connelly and those listed below.

After the traditional happy hour in the late afternoon, we began the tasting and judging of all the entries. Beano has been a sponsor for us for several years and once again provided gifts for all of the cooks. This year we had three more sponsors: Desert Peaks Section contributing three T-shirts, the Hundred Peaks Section contributing one T-shirt, and Hunt-Wesson contributing several food items, T-shirts, hats and a watch. After Tom & Karen Ferguson and Bruce Turner counted ballots, Igor and I presented gifts and awards to the winners as follows:

1st Place 2nd Place
Grand Prize: Mike Treat Linda McDermott
Best Traditional: Ron Jones Fran Gell
Spiciest: Jackie Meese Mike Treat
Most Unusual: Mike Treat John Gibba
Vegetarian: Suzanne Mamedalin Judy Ware

Also as tradition states, the winning chili (in this case chilies), are posted in the SAGE write-up for the trip.

Later we had a roaring campfire and no shortage of wood. The song books came out as did two guitars and folk songs. The Hyakutake Comet was quite visible. There were several pairs of binoculars as well as a 1OOOM telescope and we got good views of the comet, Venus and the Moon. The evening was comfortably cool and everyone passed a good night, especially those who took Beano!

Sunday morning the group split up. The official group went up to the Maidenhair Falls in Hellhole Canyon. Showers were enjoyed and the water was cold. Graham Breakwell and Robin hiked Villager Peak in 8 hours. Betsy Horgan went with John & Carol McCully to climb Palomar High Point, and others went with Linda McDermott & Ron Grau to explore a nearby slot canyon.

Thanks to everyone for a wonderful success, to Ron, Igor & Suzanne for fine assistance, the cooks for sharing their Epicurean skills, and the tasters for their support. And certainly, thanks to Beano, DPS, HPS and Hunt-Wessen for supporting this event and being so generous in their contributions.


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