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On the last day of my desert roadtrip I planned to do a few more peaks from Walt Wheelock's Desert Peaks Guide. I had spent the night parked at the Minietta Mine located at the base of Lookout Mountain on the west side of the Argus Range, above Panamint Valley. It was from here that I would start the first of the day's hikes.
I started from the same inactive quarry I had used for Wilson Peak about 2mi NW of Trona. This time I ignored the No Trespassing signs to allow me to drive another 1/3mi into the quarry for a slightly shorter hike. Judging from some of the signs one finds at the quarry periphery, I'd guess that at one time trespassing was highly discouraged, but no one seems to care these days. After walking through the quarry I followed a burro trail across Wilson Canyon Wash to the start of the East Ridge for Peak 4,122ft. This was a fairly tame climb, not too steep, good footing and views opening up across Searles Valley very soon after starting up. There was more green in this part of the range than I had seen elsewhere, some flowers even, and I found it quite pleasing to the eye. It took about an hour and twenty minutes to reach the top of Peak 4,122ft. There were several rocky points competing for the highpoint and I visited each in turn, not really surprised to find no register. There were, however, the usual areas of disturbed earth where a prospector of old had dug into the earth to examine a curious bit of rock, perhaps hoping for that next big find.
As expected, there was a 500-foot drop to the saddle with Trona Peak, another mile and a half to the southwest. My route to Trona followed the most obvious and direct path up the NE Ridge, taking another hour and ten minutes from the top of Peak 4,122ft. Arriving at 12:30a, about 2.5hrs after starting out, the summit of Trona is not hard to find. The Gossett brothers of Trona had fashioned a sign of aluminum and affixed it in the summit rocks. The summit is just visible from the town almost 5mi to the east. It's a nice perch overlooking both the Searles Valley and China Lake areas. To the northwest rises the higher Wilson Peak with the even higher Argus Peak dominating the view to the north. Register scraps found at the summit dated to 1968, left by members of the China Lake Mountain Rescue Group from which the Occasional Peaks Gang (OPG) derived. The Gossett's left a register in 1992 and most of the entries are from other Trona and Ridgecrest locals. The last entry was dated 2009 but the lack of more recent entries may have been due to the difficulty in opening the container. It took me some time to open it, tapping the rusty lid against a rock so as not to break the glass jar.
I still had most of the afternoon available and decided to take a bit of a roundabout return. I had been eyeing the next ridge to the south and thought it would make a nice loop return even if somewhat longer (the fastest return is likely to the NE down to Wilson Canyon). There were some fairly green areas found along the easy route and I enjoyed the extra time in the hills a great deal. I spent about 2hr15m on the return, getting back just before 3p. After showering I drove to Ridgecrest for gas and caffeine before starting the long drive back to San Jose. I hope to get in several more desert trips before things start to heat up - I'm very interested to see just how green the desert might get this year...
This page last updated: Wed Feb 25 10:51:35 2015
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