The Mount Grant Challenge Hike
Good ideas and wishful thinking won’t make an event come true, but for Mineral County’s 9/11 Memorial Mount Grant Challenge there were just a handful of volunteers and workers that brought it to fruition.
Dave Womack, a Fire Inspector in Mineral County for 33 years, took a vision and shared it with a few others within the Hawthorne Army Depot leadership. Since the attack of 9/11, a vast amount of the Wassuk mountain range, which surrounded the north-west arm of the military base, had been fenced off, protecting resources and military land from public access. This included one of the most prominent peaks in Nevada, Mount Grant, with an elevation of 11,280 feet. The terrain through which the access roads stretch along unique rock formations, opening into thick tree-lined foliage, house a variety of wildlife, including Nevada’s famous Big Horn Sheep. At the top of the mountain area an amazing view of Walker Lake stretches out below in a broad blue expanse, bordered by mountains all the way around.
Sprinkled along this trek are many historic mining structures, and at the corner of turning south to climb toward Mt. Grant one can experience photo-ops with a 360-degree view, exposing endless ranges of majestic peaks and isolated valleys. This treasured land had been closed to civilians from 2001 until the effort of this 9/11 Challenge unfolded for the first open area marathon hike in 2011.
Today, it has expanded to include a Friday, September 8th parade and processional into Hawthorne’s Veterans Park, with the Big Flag raising and participants meeting for their registrations and packets. On Saturday, Sept 9, 2017 at 6 AM, the event is staged at the bottom of Cottonwood, along Highway 95 at the base of the mountain’s incline. Resting spots have been adopted by local groups to offer water, assistance and communicational placement for the hikers, which has developed into a form of competition, as each tented stop is uniquely themed. A half marathon is also offered with transportation, as well as tag-team walks which people of all ages can take part in. The hike begins at 7 AM and is usually an all-day event.
On Sunday morning the local Elks Lodge hosts a breakfast in Hawthorne, providing a time to share goodbyes and to regroup again for next year’s reunion.
With a 14% grade and a 17-mile potential hike, this marathon has brought out-of-country hikers, as well as many state residents who come here to experience this monumental dedication of will. From professional runners to slower-paced walkers assisted by walking sticks, this has grown to be a successful weekend of memories and of honoring the many Americans who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. To sign up, go to www.active.com or visit their Facebook page at 9/11 Memorial Mt. Grant Challenge.
(Photos courtesy of the 9/11 Memorial Mt. Grant Challenge Committee)
— Sheri Samson