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Day six of my birthday desert roadtrip found me alone for a second day. Unlike yesterday which was a collection of short but fun class 3 scrambles, today was two longish hikes wandering about some smaller desert ranges just west of US95, nothing more than class 2 but still enjoyable. For the second day in a row, strong winds swept through the desert (and apparently much of the Southland as a fire rages out of control in Santa Paula), keeping temperatures cool, in the low 60s, quite pleasant all day. Both ranges are exceedingly dry with little vegetation, making cross-country travel mostly easy.
I followed my ascent route back to the second drainage, then down to its lower reaches before starting up to the SW Ridge of Peak 2,042ft. This proved a better scramble than Riverside Mtn, over a mix of broken and more solid limestone rock - finally something that wasn't just a mess of loose rock. It was nearly 10a by the time I reached the highpoint, finding no register, unsurprisingly. More interesting was the saddle to the north connecting this unnamed summit to the Riverside Mtns HP. I could see a mining trail descending northeast into the second drainage that would make the return a snap. I even picked up a decent portion of a similar trail on my way down from Peak 2,042ft, leading me nicely to the saddle. The trail leading down from the saddle stayed above the drainage and reconnected with the mining road I had originally taken over the first saddle. A small cairn marked the junction, but the trail was hard to distinguish from the road and I would never have noticed it earlier even if I'd noticed the cairn. Nevertheless, this was a much better route to Riverside Mtn, even if one went over Peak 2,042ft on the way. I paused on my way down the first drainage to explore one of the mine shafts found at the Calzona Mine. It went deep into the hillside, much further than I could explore without pulling out my headlamp. There were rusted food tins and fuel cans scattered about, and further down the canyon were the concrete remains of more mine works that suggested someone found the place valuable. I finally returned to the van a little after 11a.
I headed southeast off the summit in order to make an end-run around the bonus peak to save me some elevation gain. Though a longer route, it was made easier by an OHV trail I found at the bottom of the ridge where I crossed the Wilderness boundary. I went over a low saddle on Peak 1,950ft's South Ridge and dropped into the drainage leading out to the desert to the east. Random bits of trash led to an informal shooting range at the end of a decent dirt road that I was able to follow most of the way back to the highway. The sinking sun made for pretty shadows on the wind-sculpted sands which stretch across large swaths of the desert here. It was nearly 4p by the time I returned to the van with just enough sun to take a shower before it set.
Refreshed, I set off for Blythe where I got dinner before driving back into the desert along Midland Rd some 20mi. I found a place to park just off the pavement outside the old mining town of Midland. More fun in store for tomorrow...
This page last updated: Fri Dec 22 07:51:27 2017
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