DESERT EXPLORATORY, PLUS STEPLADDER MOUNTAIN (2,927') AND CHEMEHUEVI PEAK (3,694') January 10-12, 1997
Leaving early for these two peaks which I needed, I stayed in Barstow, CA, then began my exploratory drive to the eastern reaches of the Mojave Desert. I took I-40 to the Providence Mountains State Park, where I took a short nature trail, and toured Mitchell Caverns.
Next, I took the old Route 66 to Goffs, CA, to take a few pictures and enjoy being out in such pleasant conditions. Motoring over east to U.S. 95, I visited Needles, CA, which I have always wanted to visit, but never really had a chance to explore before this weekend.
Camping next to the dirt road along U.S. 95 that heads for our first peak, I nearly got stuck in the sand, and luckily was able to drive out. Another participant came by, providing some company for the long night.
I awoke early, and had my breakfast of some groceries from a supermarket in Needles. At about 7 a.m., we organized our 4WD carpool, then followed the DPS Guide directions to the roadhead which was now signed with red stakes, the wilderness boundary.
A easy walk of about three miles on an overgrown jeep track took us to the spot where we would have driven before the Desert Bill. We headed cross-country toward the peak, which does look like a stepladder, with big "steps" on this side of the mountain.
A couple hikers decided to turn back, for some reason. The leader took us up the steps, and there were some high class 2/low class 3 moves, but with no great exposure of note. The route goes this way and that way, then we came to the summit area at about 12:40 p.m.
A class 2-3 rock crag makes up the highpoint. The others climbed it, while I took pictures of the view. I did the crag a few minutes later, with someone taking my picture. After lunch, we ambled back down the steps, and then had the longer walk back to our cars.
The leaders chose to car camp near the spot where we met that morning, due to the lesser abled vehicles, mine included, and we had a modest (for the DPS) feast, with more grocery store food for me.
The next morning, I awoke early again, at 4 a.m. I read magazines by flashlight, then I shot a picture of the sunrise. I waited for the activities to begin.
I was able to drive my own car, with the others, this time. The road toward Chemehuevi Peak isn't so rough, but I have to drive slowly. They found a parking spot, and I am always amazed by how well the DPS knows their climbs.
Starting our hike up in overcast weather, we were taken across a big area of cholla, which compares to the gardens in Joshua Tree National Park. Unfortunately, we went up the wrong wash, but realized our error, and crossed over a ridge to the right wash.
Climbing up north to a saddle, we headed up a slight use trail to the right, where the summit awaited. Reaching the top at about noon, we had some slower hikers who started back down ahead of us. The view of the Colorado River wasn't real clear, with grey skies and perhaps mist in the air. I vowed to climb this peak in better lighting conditions, someday, to get a greater picture.
We began down and quickly hiked through a light rain back to the cars. Returning to the cars by about 3:15 p.m., some of us had an early dinner in Needles.
The forecast was for more rain and clouds, so I thought about what to do. I checked nearby lodging, but the rates were too high for me. I made my longest, after weekend, drive home ever.
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