1993 DESERT PEAKS SPRINGTIME ADVENTURE (Continued)
Wednesday, we woke up early and drove back into Las Vegas. We had another $1.99 breakfast.
Needing a relax day after this climb of Moapa Peak, we went out to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. One takes Charleston Boulevard all the way out to the west.
There is a visitor center, where we toured the displays. I knew from rock climbing guides that this was the Yosemite of the desert. Red Rock Canyon is well-known for hundreds of routes, with good rock. We couldn't take the scenic loop drive, since it was under construction. So we found a short side trail, and hiked along it.
Rock climbers were busy ascending a vertical flake. I remembered a long time ago, I would have loved to try this route. One of the followers seemed to have a difficult time. A young female led the way, and must have been an expert.
We toured about more, seeing a desert burro. Many flowers were blooming. Finally, we went back into town, drove along the Strip, and got another room, with two nights stay, at the Union Plaza again. We loaded up on buffet dinners, and walked about Fremont Street. Rex doesn't gamble, being a religious conservative. I was afraid he might ask to leave. I left him in the room as I wandered about the casino, losing a little money on food and slots. I was having a good time.
Thursday, with another $1.99 breakfast, we motored west on NV 160 toward Blue Diamond, then took the road toward Pahrump. A side road leads to the start point for Potosi Mountain. It was rough, but I made it. At first, we tried a shortcut to the peak. After maybe several hundred feet of climbing, I concluded that we were going wrong. Rex was no help. My maps were inadequate. I chose to descend all the way back down to take a route that led by a mine. We reclimbed on this other route to find that our initial way would have been correct. Rats!
The route leads cross-country along a ridge, then some side-hilling is needed. The slopes were steep, loose and rocky. It was warm. Curse this peak! I felt it should be de-listed. After passing a power line, we came to the antennas and structures on the summit. A dirt road comes up here, presumably gated and closed. I heard it would be 18 miles one way if that were used as an approach.
The view toward Las Vegas was hazy. The town was far distant. I took a picture. Being April, we had more daylight. We had a better time descending, now that we had gotten the peak, and knew the way back. Our total round trip was 8.5 hours, not including the 1-1.5 hours wasted on the initial attempt route.
Back at our hotel, we had our buffet dinner at a nearby casino, well-deserved today. I didn't lose weight on this trip!
Friday morning, we headed south on U.S. 95 for a climb of Spirit Mountain. I found the road, and thought this would be an easy climb, since the stats were short. Motoring to Christmas Tree Pass, we parked just before a rocky section, and began hiking.
There is a moderate dip needed to climb to the ascent route, and we found it. But, I didn't have a good map. We followed ducks, then came to a big notch where I believed the route went. Off! I downclimbed, scouting for the way. I came down a steep, loose section where a slip and a slide could propel one off a big cliff! I gained sight of a desert waterfall, and found that this was not the way.
Rex wasn't enjoying himself. We were lost somewhat. I scouted more, then found the route, with ducks. It led into a creekbed, then I worried about snakes. We had lost time, so with my deep regret, we turned around. Our luck had been holding, so we thought to quit while we were ahead.
Back to the wagon, we went into nearby Searchlight, Nevada, to kill time. There is a small museum, which we toured. I took more pictures, then we headed west on NV 164, the Joshua Tree Highway. We crossed the stateline, and came to Nipton, CA, a small oasis-like resort. The main local lodging, reported favorably in a major newspaper travel article, was known as the Nipton Hotel. Last I heard, it was reported as $100 a night. A pleasant cactus garden marks the foreground of this spot.
Motoring a bit further to our meeting place for the weekend DPS climbs, we camped next to the train tracks at Ivanpah, CA. After our slight car trouble and such, I wished to be right there for Saturday morning. Another climber joined us, and trains roared by through all of the night!
We met with the DPS group in the morning, and took the long, dirt roads around to the Keystone Canyon route for New York Mountain. This is a shorter hike than the way we had tried in 1990. A 4WD road leads to a mine, which had foul-run off. We had to park on the road, with a difficult turn-around on the way out. I was surprised at the daring and proficiency of the drivers.
The cross-country climb led us along the left side of a ridge, then to the summit area where the class 3 summit pile of rocks awaited us. A dog with us needed little help to climb the steep route, and then we were on top after a two hour ascent.
The view was a bit hazy, but I relished success on this, for me, grudge peak. Sometimes you never think you'll ever be back, so you give it your all. Our 1990 route, from Caruthers Canyon, was brushy and difficult, with one other climber finishing a class 4 way to the top. It involved a big step across a chasm, with ice and snow on ledges on both sides. I passed, since I knew that wasn't the end to that route.
We downclimbed after lunch, then took in a better view of the summit rocks from another subsidiary bump. One hiker was doing graduate research, so led us to the isolated stand of white fir that grew on the shadow side of some rocks. This phenomenon is called a tree island. On the summits, above 7,000 feet elevation here, the last remnants of an ancient forest survive from primordival times, when the climate was wetter. The desert, then, must have been a much different place, eons ago. Inland seas, with perhaps wooly mammoths roaming about, dried up as time passed to become what is today now desert.
We came back to the cars, and we were shuttled back to my own vehicle. While the others relaxed, Rex and I chose to drive to Stateline for another buffet dinner.
Enroute north on Ivanpah Road, I saw something in the middle of the road. I slowed, then stopped. It was a desert tortoise! I took pictures as it crawled across the asphalt. The others came by as I flagged them to slow, then the leader picked up the tortoise and carried it off the highway. I said not to do that, since carrying stresses out the tortoise, but he said it was better than to leave it to be run over by cars. I was going to take more pictures, but ran out of film. After reloading and coming back for more pictures, it was gone.
We had our casino buffet meal, then drove into the primitive campground at the end of the road to Clark Mountain. I seem to get lost on this road almost every time. The others were enjoying dinner, and the camping. It was getting cold. We had a campfire, along with our usual DPS party.
The next day, we took a straight route up for the class 3 section through the rockband. It takes some finding, and helps to know exactly where it is. Some groups don't make it, since the cliff band is high, and mostly vertical. I was lucky to have joined a well-led DPS group in 1984.
The view from the top was again, nice. This was my third ascent. Clark Mountain is the highest point in the California Desert north from the San Gabriels, and then north to Death Valley. Climbing these latter two peaks makes a fine peak climbers itinerary with a side trip to Las Vegas.
On our return, we left the group after our thanks and goodbyes.
After a stop in Baker, CA, where the world's largest thermometer is located, then reading 72 degrees, Rex and I continued southwest on Interstate 15, to make a stop at the Calico Early Man Site. We camped that night at the BLM Owl Canyon campground north of Barstow.
We took a detour, on our last day, to visit the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve. There are better stands of poppies outside the preserve, although the visitor center has nice displays and plenty of information. Motoring on west to Interstate 5, we were shortly home.
We spent a total of twelve days on the road. Our total climbing and hiking stats were some 45 miles with 19,000' gain. I shot 15 rolls of 36-exp. Kodachrome film.
Our little adventures, perhaps, were to bring us to the eye of other desert peak climbers. The following year, I was to receive a call from a local SPS list finisher, who apparently intended to complete the DPS list. He eventually did that in 1997, with tens of thousands of miles driven.
These will always be memorable moments, with thousands of slides taken, and the views and routes forever etched in silver halide. I sincerely hope that others will have the mettle to follow, as the desert is now legally preserved for this type of recreation. Updated maps, more available information, and newer facilities have now changed things forever.
I was to have my wagon checked for damage, and was told I needed a new transmission, among other things. I started to get that done, when the estimates rose considerably. I had to enjoin Rex to take me to a car dealer, where I had to make a purchase quickly. Limited by budget, I took a highly (No. 1) fuel efficient subcompact, which initially gave me 60 miles per gallon. They don't make these cars like that any more.
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