The great one was in town this weekend, my good friend and climbing partner,
Hannu Haarma arrived right on schedule at 2:15 Saturday afternoon. Hannu, recently won the USA orienteering championship. He will be competing for the world title this summer.
The morning was spent on a long bike ride with Gerry and a nice walk with Lucy. We also had time to watch a good PBS video put together by John Denver before his death. This was a very thoughtful gift from my favorite Aunt Jean. John Denver was a strong voice for wildlife and wilderness as well as the freedom and spirit of the American west. He opened up an environmental consciousness for many of us in the 70s. His voice remains an inspiration. You may enjoy "Let this be a voice". Back to the adventure.
When Hannu comes to town there are some constants. We drive a long distance, do a challenging hike, drink some beer and just have a great time. This weekend was not an exception.
We took off for Hualapai Mountain Park about 2:30P.M. and arrived in Kingman at 5:45P.M.
We stopped for gourmet cheeseburgers at Burger King and overcame our first big challenge, that of being locked out of the rental car and not being able to use the keys to get in. Hannu got only mildly excited, with
an occasional Finnish curse gracing the parking lot.
The great one and I finally figured out that the trunk key also was the key to the door.
Small delay, now to Hualapai Park.
The park which was developed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps covers 2,300 acres at elevations ranging from 4,984 ft. to 8,417 ft. at the top of Hualapi Peak. The environment in the Hualapais is similar to Prescott National Forrest and the South rim of the Grand Canyon. Vegetation includes Ponderosa pine, pinion, white fur, aspen, gambel oak, and manzanita. The mountains are named for the Hualapai Indians. The name Hualapai means "Pine tree people."
We stayed at one of the rustic rental cabins. These are the best kept secret in Arizona. The cabins rent for $25 to $55 a night and all have showers with stove and kitchen facilities. Most have fireplaces or wood burning stoves and all with wall heaters. This mountain park run by Mojave County parks dept. offers a great alternative to spending a summer weekend in the White Mountains, Flagstaff, Prescott, or the Mogollon Rim.
Saturday evening was spent drinking Steinlagers and watching the stars in the great Arizona sky by the fire built outside our cabin in a pit.
Easter morning we rose early to start up the trail leading to the craggy Hualapai peak. Among Hualapai's attractions are the trail system. They are quite nice.
It was a beautiful morning with some of the bluest sky that I have ever seen. After 4 miles, the last one in snow, and a couple of thousand feet of elevation gain we came to within 200 feet of the summit. The only problem was that there was no trail, only a rock climb with quite a pitch. We tried a couple of routes unsuccessfully but Hannu found
a way that was a little dicey but doable. At the top was a rock with only room for two-perfect! The views are panoramic the only spoiler was a slight haze, probably from Las Vegas. On the way back, Hannu, not satisfied with bagging the highest peak, suggested that we climb another. I said "Lets do it!" but really thought Damn!
So, we climbed to just below the bottom of Aspen Peak at a little over 8,000 feet and again was faced with a pretty good vertical pitch to get to the top. Hannu was not interested in going to the top but I had to pay him back for finding the way up Hualapai, so I led us up a slightly less difficult route.
After coming down I was afraid that he would want to climb yet a third- Hayden Peak,
but to my relief he was more interested in the Amstel light at the end of the trail, so we took the potato patch trail back to the car.
We arrived back in Scottsdale at 4:30P.M. Hannu headed back to his hotel to clean up and would meet us for dinner later. In the mean time Ger and I attended a veinte cinco anniversario for our housekeeper and amiga-Luscilva, at her home. It was a large party with over fifty in attendance, including two other gringos. The music was loud, the food was good. This was really fun and we thoroughly enjoyed a rich cultural experiece, and a big improvement over the corporate social crap I used to do.
We left the party after a couple of hours and met Hannu at Az88. We had a very nice Easter dinner that Hannu graciously treated us to. Gerry had her signature best looking in the world Martini, and Hannu and I treated ourselves to Chimay beer made by trappis monks in Belgium. This is pricey at $14 a bottle but absolutely a unique taste and well worth it! Particularly when Hannu is buying! Highly recommended.