By: Gabriele Rau Gabriele Rau
I do not know why I ended up with Galena Peak as my very last peak to finish the List, I certainly did not plan it that way. When I asked friends to come to my List Finish, I heard a lot of excuses, "it is not my favorite peak", or "never again". I knew then that I did something wrong leaving this peak to the very last. Anyway, Tom Hill and Byron Prinzmetal volunteered to take me to this difficult peak. At fist we planned to go early June, but a freak snowstorm made it too dangerous, therefore we postponed. Also joining us were George Wysup, Dorothy Danziger, James Carden and Janet Yang. We all met at Mill Creek Ranger Station, drove the short distance to the trailhead, where every parking space was taken, so we parked in the Picnic Ground.
The hike seemed easy at first Halfway up Mill Creek Canyon we split into 2 groups to avoid getting hit by rocks on the head wall. It was a long way to get to the infamous head wall. Shortly before getting there we saw a huge cloud of dust on the right side and we thought of a rockfall. But no, the dust settled and we saw two bighorn sheep looking at us from way above. When we stopped in front of the head wall to discuss our climbing strategies, we saw George already on top, Byron still climbing up. Then he started to dislodge rocks downhill, and we were glad not to be just behind him and waited until he made it safely up. Then we started. At one time I slipped 2 steps down for every one step up and realized that this way I would never make it to the peak, but finally we reached some bushes. From there a very faint use trail traversed uphill to the right and we were able to reach the top of the head wall without major difficulties and without kicking more rocks loose. Byron was already cutting brush to open the use trail leading to the peak. We stayed on the left side of the ridge, the steep edge is very crumbly in some places. I liked the fact that the register was on the first high bump on the summit ridge, not the farthest one. At the List stretch the group let me go ahead to the peak, and there I was! Finally my List Finish! I was overwhelmed, everybody congratulated me. We had decided -not to take any drinks up this difficult route, but Janet had brought some Baklava which we shared. The view was superb, under deep blue skies we saw San Jacinto, Kitching and Snow, San Gorgonio, 10K Ridge and much more! After picture taking and a nice long rest in the sun we started downhill.
Again, we divided into two groups. It took us a while to get down the head wall, but I thought it was easier, because parts of it one could ski in the scree downhill. We made it safely down and started on the long way back. The first part of this canyon is still rather steep with a lot of loose rocks. Dorothy was walking behind me and suddenly I heard a rumbling and Dorothy falling. Accidentally, she had kicked a large loose boulder that fell on her foot. Byron immediately was put to test his First Aid capabilities, and his diagnosis was: no blood, no bones sticking out, so probably Dorothy had a sprain. Luckily she was able to walk slowly. Tom decided to stay with her and walk her out slowly, the others went ahead.
At the picnic grounds, we then had a little libation and refreshments. After less than an hour Tom and Dorothy came out That called for the second bottle and more of the same. Dorothy's ankle now showed beautiful colors and she put some ice on it She must have been in a lot of pain walking out!
I want to thank all of the participants to help me get to this peak, and thanks to all of the 100 Peaks Leaders, members and friends who supported and helped me to get all the peaks! Years ago, I hiked my very first peaks with Bob Wheatley. He encouraged me to just write them down, which I did. I never thought in my wildest dreams that I could finish, and now I have finished the List!
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