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Following a fairly successful day with six summits, we made plans to hit four more today. We would find ourselves overly committed in trying to climb Cady Peak, Sleeping Beauty, Providence BM, and Kelso Peak in the same shortened day, but we would have fun trying. Matthew wasn't at all excited about the choice of peaks and considered he was throwing me a bone on this day, expecting to make up for it in the following days when we would be following an agenda more to his liking.
Cady Peak is the highpoint of the Cady Mountains and one of the California 2,000-foot prominence peaks. Zdon ignores it in his book, Desert Summits, and it is hard to find info on it elsewhere. Evan Rasmussen had provided us with approach information to which we would be most grateful as it helped us get as near the peak as possible for the most direct route. Our only beef with his directions was in having us use four miles of dirt road on the north side of I40 once we had gotten off at the Hector exit. A better option, which we used, is to take the paved US66 on the south side of I40. This can be followed to the paved Pisgah Rd that goes under I40 and backtracks a short distance to its end at the dirt Powerline Road. We left my van off US66 and took Matthew's Suburu on the dirt road for about five and half miles in a northeast direction along the power line access road as directed. This took us up and over a shallow saddle until we were abreast the wide wash southeast of Cady Peak. The sun was just rising to the east as we parked to start off shortly before 6:30a.
We followed up the broad wash over easy terrain for almost an hour, taking the dogleg turn to the right about halfway up the wash. We had a fine view of Cady upon our approach but somehow managed to mangle things a bit as we neared the upper end of the wash. With the summit no longer in view and our orientation a bit confused, we followed a wrong fork in the wash and ended up climbing some 500ft to a subsidiary ridge more than half a mile from our target. It wasn't until we nearly topped the ridge and looked around the corner that we discovered our error. Oops.
Our penance required us to drop several hundred feet north into another side wash, climb up out of that a few hundred feet, and then drop down and cross another side canyon before we were on the south side of our mountain. Our little detour wasn't altogether a bad thing and had provided some enjoyable class 3 scrambling, and in the end probably didn't cost us more than about 15 minutes' time. It was just after 8:15a when we managed our way to the highpoint. A register held a small pad of paper and some loose pages that dated to 1995. Most of the names were recognizable highpointers, one or two ascents per year. Ours was the second ascent for 2009.
With the route now obvious before us to the southeast, we did a far better job on the return. We dropped down almost directly from the summit to the left, sliding down over steep talus that made for a pretty quick descent to the bottom of the wash. From there it was an easy matter to just follow the sandy wash back out to our car where we arrived just after 9:30a.
We drove back out to Pisgah Rd and US66, taking the latter east, crossing under I40 to the north side, then a short distance to the first dirt road encountered. Here we left the van again and took Matthew's car north to the end of the road just above a wash south of Sleeping Beauty. This second peak is the highest point in the southern group of hills comprising the Cady Mountains and the only peak in the range given a place in Zdon's book (whose directions we followed). The rock here is rather colorful and varied, having attracted much attention from miners in days gone by. It reminded me a good deal of the Calico Mtns I had hiked around in the previous day.
The peak was less than a mile and half distance from our parking spot, and it took us only an hour to climb the 1,200ft or so required. There was not much difficulty in routefinding as the peak is fairly easy to find, though tucked a bit behind a rocky headwall facing the south side of the summit mass. We took one of several washes up the steepening slopes to a ridge, scrambled a bit to the west to avoid the small cliff we were confronted with, then hiked up over talus and rock towards the summit where we arrived at 11:15a. We took our time enroute to marvel at the oddly-colored green rock that was plentiful here, picking up other bits of colored rocks and interesting finds when they caught our eye.
There were three summit register containers found at various parts about the summit, each with their own set of ledgers and names, none dating back more than about ten years. We combined these down to two and took the third one for some future use (which we got to deposit the following day). A benchmark was simply marked "RED" as depicted on the 7.5' topo - perhaps "Sleeping Beauty" was too much to fit on the small circular disk? Our descent was a variation using slopes and washes further west than our ascent route, not because we were looking for an easier or faster way back, but just to have some different terrain to wander through.
We drove back out to US66 and then east to Ludlow where we attempted to get air for one of my tires that was registering low pressure. There are two gas stations at this small roadside stop along I40 - the first had no air to supply and the second had a small generator-driven pump off to one side. Unfortunately the pressure provided by the pump was less than I had remaining in my tire and I had lost an additional five pounds of pressure before I suspected a problem. Great. Luckily, Matthew keeps a foot pump in his car and I was able to use that to reinflate it the old-fashioned way. Our delay did not cost us much time, but as we drove east to the Providence Mtns I was already convinced we would have to cut out the fourth peak we had planned on. Providence BM seemed likely to take the remaining daylight and some of the night as well.
After heading north on Kelbaker Rd, we followed Zdon's directions to Arrowweed Spring on the southwest side of the mountain, not starting off until after 1:30p. The four mile one-way distance would likely take a couple hours and it seemed we would be faced with a setting sun when we were about halfway back down. Matthew was more optimistic, thinking we could get back without headlamps, but we were both sure we'd have to write off Kelso Peak for another day. We didn't make it, as you have probably already guessed.
The first mile was spent traversing north around some hills to reach the main ascent wash. Though brushy, it went fairly easily with circuitous, but quick-moving navigation. The wash started off similarly, but soon grew brushy and clogged, forcing us onto the hillsides to our left. Progress slowed as we spent time traversing steep slopes and avoiding the abundance of brush and cacti found in our way. By 2:45p we were still well more than an hour from the summit and it seemed likely that we would find the sun setting about the same time we reached the top. When I conveyed my concern (trying to navigate through the brush and cactus by headlamp) to Matthew, he seemed dispassionately unconcerned. He knew it was going to suck on the return, but was willing to continue to a summit he cared almost nothing for. His normally clear reasoning was an utter puzzle to me. Our last foray into the Providence Mtns had been an epic of implanted needles and a late-night return, and we seemed to be taking the same path. I declared that I couldn't do it - I was going to return and would be happy to wait for Matthew to finish if he so wished. He didn't so wish, meaning we returned together. I think he just wanted to hear me cry uncle first. Trailing behind me, I thought I heard the scratching as he cut another notch in his "Bob quit first" belt, likely smiling to himself behind my back.
And so we called it a day and returned to the car around 4p. My preference would have been to sleep there the night to try again in the morning, but Matthew felt he'd already tossed me a few days' worth of bones and was looking for something more substantial. So I agreed to leave Providence and Kelso for another time as we drove north to Baker for dinner. Matthew made mention of trying Providence again at some future date, possibly by an easier route from the east side of the range. I'm not sure if there is indeed an easier route or if he was at all serious, but I considered it a win that he would actually come back to a peak he cared little for. My lower standards were rubbing off on him, it would seem.
This page last updated: Tue Dec 8 18:33:18 2009
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