NELSON RANGE HP (7,696'), PLEASANT POINT (9,690'), WAUCOBA MOUNTAIN (11,128'), AND THE CHALFANT VALLEY November 26-29, 1987
With the chapter ban well in operation, I still then had plenty of partners to attend, knowing that this would be another of such excellent activities. Four other climbers made the jaunt out to the Desert, this fine Thanksgiving weekend.
Motoring south along U.S. 395 after work, we convened in Lone Pine, CA, where we stayed, camping for the time. Our short trips to adjacent desert peaks allowed for dining and other civilized efforts between each peak. I enjoyed the fine weather and had snapped plenty of photos.
Our first peak was the highpoint of the Nelson Range, an easy, short hike. I was surprised by how good the roads were, and following the DPS directions, we came then to the rough road that leads to the mine. We began our climb, and shortly reached the summit, with an old register and magnificent views. We had plenty of time, no rushing for this group, but we did just the one peak. We could relax on our hike down, with more to see.
Back to Lone Pine for food and camping, the next day we drove up the road to Cerro Gordo, with interesting geology and the tramway. I had done this peak already, but liked its ease of ascent and the view. I was to ascend this peak 4X over the years, and the rough road makes for a driving challenge.
There were sights to see in Cerro Gordo, an old mining town. It is situated at about 8,000 feet elevation. We took the dirt road north, and then headed cross-country to the top. Summitting quickly, I began to record the views, and we enjoyed the nice, warm, afternoon sun. This was so pleasant and easy! Too bad the local chapter had removed itself from exploring, enjoying, and protecting, with us, but that was their vote.
We had nice low light hiking back down, and then it was back to Lone Pine. Seems this wasn't a great way to burn off calories, but certainly we savored the best of the Eastern Sierra and the Owens Valley.
The next day, we motored out of Big Pine, CA, to take the road south into the Saline Valley. It was washboarded and pretty rough, and one driver opted to cancel. The rest of us, minus one, started the cross-country hike up Waucoba Peak, with about 3,000' gain. Running into snow, it was good to have a group.
The sights from the top were also fine, and one photo of mine won a DPS contest, a print mailed to their annual banquet. Not staying long on top, we carefully hiked down over the snow, and had more sights to see.
One hiker had stayed at the cars, building a campfire since it was pretty cold. I left the group, who were to camp another night. Some incoming clouds made for some concern, but I'd get a motel room this night.
The next morning, ice crystals had formed on my windshield, but I chose to explore a bit more. It was beautiful! I had a guidebook with directions to the Chalfant Valley petroglyphs. With bright sun, they made for good pictures. I motored north to Highway CA 120, and stopped for photos. Then it was to U.S. 395, and even more photography.
With my 44 mpg then, I could relax and save lots of cash, gas then being some dollar per gallon. We'd have one more holiday desert climb when this group lost interest, my gist to be more efficient, with more peaks per trip. I was to join the DPS, for many more such adventures, saddened by the lack of local hikers to enjoy these gorgeous holidays.
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