OROCOPIA PEAK (3,815'), GRANITE MOUNTAIN #2 (4,331'), AND PALEN MOUNTAIN (3,848') January 14-16, 1995
This three day holiday weekend was perfect for this desert trip to the area east of the Salton Sea, with three desert wilderness areas we were to visit. A DPS member from San Diego was going to complete climbing all of the peaks on the DPS list on the first peak of this weekend, Orocopia Peak. Dozens of fellow peak climbers and well-wishers came to attend.
It was a relief to escape the rain up north. I carpooled in a new 4WD truck, which greatly facilitated the driving to the remote roadheads. Most climbs required this type of vehicle to negotiate the rough roads enroute.
We camped in a big wash with several such vehicles, Friday night. I enjoyed a good dawn. We motored up Saturday for the start of the hike. This is an easy peak, with only a couple miles and about 1,100' gain. We usually followed the directions of the DPS Road and Peaks Guide, which gives specific directions on ways to drive to and climb all of the peaks on the DPS list. We came from the north to follow a ridge.
Our leader took us this way and that way, and only my faith in the guiding of this large group prompted me to keep quiet and not assume there was a better way. We crested a ridge, and there was the top!
This is a good hiking group, with most everyone moving along at good speed. We hiked up the final section, and I topped out after about two hours of hiking.
Celebrations commenced promptly. Champagne was uncorked, and the bubbly did flow! In keeping with a DPS tradition, all list finishers stood together for a photo. Finally, the entire group posed for a multitude of photographers.
Many in the group came only for this event. I shot the views. Returning to the cars, we had more celebrations, then our scheduled DPS group left to do our own trip. I managed a fast photo of the General Patton Museum, being with an interest in military history.
We motored over to a campsite on the way to the next peak, Granite #2. It is the DPS style to number peaks with the same name. Many place names are redundant, with up to 40 mountains in California having the same name, which is confusing for some. The altitude of the top sometimes helps in identifying the exact point, although some identically named peaks have close, or similar, elevations.
The next morning, we continued motoring on the 4WD road to the parking spot, and began our climb of Granite #2 at a good hour. We took a combination of washes to the base of the range, then up to the main ridge and then the summit. It took me about 3.5 hours to reach the top.
After a short summit stay, with views, we reversed our course and returned to the cars. This is neither effortless or easy in itself.
Having another great party at a car camp site, I recall barbecued lemon herb chicken and fried, fresh, sea bass were among the entrees for this weekend. A solid campfire is always a pleasure, although we have to bring in the wood and a metal pan for the fire.
Monday, the holiday, we were now only a group of six to climb Palen Mountain. This is just south of Granite #2, but a different rough road must be taken to get to the base of the climb. The extra dollars spent to own these types of vehicles would induce me to use a bicycle, or do the twenty mile backpack each way, if I were on my own. But, it's restful to drive, and do the then, relatively brief climb.
We enjoyed regular sunshine, after the overcast of yesterday's climb. My time was 2.5 hours up. The view encompassed incredible amounts of wild desert vistas. The benchmark names the point "redtop," a reference to the slightly colored rock nearby. We sat for pictures, and then it was time to go home. Back to the paved highway, that was a relief considering the rough 4WD road that we had to drive.
By the general unavailability of food, plus the exercise, I was able to lose some weight. Not having a refrigerator at hand is conducive to slight fasting, and not munching as one feels. I don't have the discipline to diet effectively, so rely on these trips to maintain a smaller waistline.
Sharing the expenses, I tried to take up all of the fuel costs, plus a little more. My driver deserves the best for this one!
Our total hiking stats were some 14 miles with 6,300' gain.
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