PALMETTO MOUNTAIN (8,945'), TIN MOUNTAIN (8,953'), TUCKI MOUNTAIN (6,726') and More November 21-25, 1990

For once, my usually riding passenger opted to drive on this holiday weekend, sparing me the usual thousand miles of motoring. We left home Wednesday night, driving south along U.S. 395. Thursday morning taking CA 168 east, we drove over Westgard Pass and had the White Mountains to our backs. Then, it was onto NV 266.

Our goal today was an obscure desert peak, not even on any list. We crossed over Gilbert Pass, then halted at Lida Summit. Parking the cars, the four of us hiked cross-country toward this Nevada peak, Palmetto Mountain. Through sage, junipers, and pinyon pines, we shortly gained a road that led to the top. A facility with antennas was sited on the summit, but no one came out to inform us to go away. I took many bland photos, as it was a flat summit. I had to use my telephoto lens to get some interest on faraway peaks.

Hiking back to the highway was eventless, and we shortly drove off east on NV 266 to U.S. 95. We headed north and came to the historic mining town of Goldfield, NV. I mix in some civilized interest on my trips, and we walked about this once prosperous boomtown.

Camping somewhere north of Death Valley, we caught the dawn motoring past Ubehebe Crater. Our hiking goal for today was Tin Mountain. One of the couple had done it, but then couldn't remember a thing. The road is rough, but we got there.

Looking at my maps, I sighted a ridge outcrop, and so could determine my position. The others pointed 90 degrees in the wrong direction, and said that was the way (rocket scientists). I knew my navigation is pretty faultless, so told them, "I'll see you back at the cars," and took off for the peak. I shortly found a use trail, and reconfirmed my location and direction. It led up and up, and I made great time.

Coming to a plateau of sorts, I passed some snags, and caught sight of some great views. The use trail led about to a ridge, and I summited, with register and all, after some four hours of climbing. What do you know, but the other two soon hiked up fast. I presume that they knew that I knew the way, much better. I had not seen them following, but they, too, made good time. I had captured the views, and then we stayed together on the way down.

The wife had moved their van and car due to a ranger's request, reading a book while waiting. We came back by dusk, and then motored off to another part of the park. Coming then to Skidoo, a ghost town in the southern part of Death Valley, we had a nice camp.

The next morning, we started together for Tucki Mountain. I was using the DPS guide. We stayed together for awhile, then I got ahead. I waited, then climbed a small hill. What do you know, but the other two were hiking on that far side. Well, I sped past them again, and hiked toward the peak. I surmised that I took a new route, sidehilling and traversing into side canyons, beating them to the top by many minutes. I wished to see the view down from the edge of the flat summit, so hiked to the far north side of the plateau. There is a good route that comes up from Mosaic Canyon.

The view, there too, was not much better, so I went back to the main summit, and rejoined the other two. I left them, to take my new faster route back, them to go by the book, again. I found some ducks, and began to follow them. I knew I was off a little, but I could get out of any situation. Running into a dry waterfall, I began to know that I was had. I did some steep traversing, and gasped at the dramatic views. I had no time to take too many pictures. The sun was getting low.

Reading my maps, I made my course correction, and headed eastward. Shocked to see a large canyon drop off in my way, I had to do it. Never hardly had I hiked so fast and up! Gaining the ridge, I bagged three bumps as I headed for where I should have been, and soon ran into the desert cabin, later designated an emergency cabin. I could try to stay here overnight, or make my way back. I decided to go for it.

Coming upon my hiking route, I had another ridge to climb over. I found the use trail, and the dusk settled in over the Eastern sky. I caught sight of the cars as I got to them, and was quite damp from cold sweat. Drinking soda after soda, I was so glad that I had gotten back!

The three of them were not distressed at all, having had a pleasant day, either hiking, or exploring the mine site. I had some of their turkey, and we slept there by our cars.

Our last day, we drove to nearby Aguereberry Point, a short, dirt road accessed, vista point. I shot the views, some pretty good. The others hiked Aguereberry Hill, a bump that I declined. The sun was warming things up, and I felt good, still bagging the usual cluster of desert peaks.

We had our long drive home, with sights along CA 190, then U.S. 395, running into a snowstorm while crossing the Northern Sierra highways, and we didn't get home till about 2 a.m.

This may have been the last of our Thanksgiving holiday weekend desert trips, as they moved onto other things. I could find no one else to do this, but shortly later discovered the Desert Peaks Section. I have done so many desert peaks, now. The two rocket people were getting old, and eventually passed away, or had no great interest in the driving. The price of gas is now a discouragement, and it is mostly the same old thing for me, now. But, I do look forward to new climbers getting into this, and save my car especially for this weekend, still.