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On his way out to meet Laura and I the previous morning, Tom's Jeep experienced transmission failure driving north on I-15. He could no longer shift out of fourth gear rendering the Jeep not exactly incapacitated, but crippled. Starting from a dead stop was a slow process and top speed was limited. I probably would have turned around and gone home had it happened to me, but Tom checked the auto forums online and found he could make due for the weekend and deal with it when he got home. This meant that the more adventurous driving we had planned in Red Rock Canyon State Park would have to be put off for another time and we'd have to find tamer driving for today. Luckily (some might say otherwise) I had come prepared with a few weak offerings that had some interest to me and almost no one else on Earth. Ever the sport, Tom didn't complain once.
In the morning we started the 2mi+ hike to the summit starting up the road. Before reaching the quarry we kept to the left at a junction with an old BLM road, giving the quarry a wide berth. We entered quarry property on its far western edge, going over a fence found there. The ground here had been bulldozed and rearranged in decades past, but there doesn't seem to have been much extracted from this part of the quarry. The peak itself, which we identified with the help of the GPSr, was untouched by bulldozer or pickaxe and an easy climb from any direction. It is the pointiest pile of rubble around, but still a pile of rubble. The main crest of the Rand Mountains lies just behind the summit. It would probably make a nice hike to continue northwest along the crest to Rand Mtn and Government Peak. Having already done those, I didn't suggest this longer option. Plus, I had other plans for occupying another portion of the day. We returned via much the same route, with a slight option staying outside the western edge of the quarry property for a short time until the terrain made going back through the fenceline more reasonable. We spent an hour and a half covering about 4.5mi. Not much to recommend this summit.
A crippled Jeep proved more adequate than my low-clearance van and we managed to drive 2/3 of the distance and half the elevation gain between the pavement and the summits. The road begins tamely, climbing low-gradient slopes to the base of the mountains, then begins a harrowing climb on a very narrow road lined by near-cliffs. Finding one section particularly steep and loose, we backed down to park it just off the road at a small saddle, hoofing it from there. We spent 25min hiking the road to the crest and saddle between our two peaks. We turned right at a fork found here, following a less-used road towards East Knob. The west side of East Knob is a moderately steep open slope, an OHV test piece for King of the Hill bragging rights. We climbed to the top where pinyon trees blocked much of the views and made finding the highpoint a bit of a challenge. Using the GPSr as a guide, we picked a (very) small rock outcrop near the west end of the summit area as the highest. After returning to the saddle and continuing on the road to Middle Knob, the quiet was disturbed by a trio of motorcyclists running their machines up East Knob. A few made it look easy ("never hesitate" appears to be key) while one of them stalled about halfway up. We were just happy that they waited until after our own summit visit.
The road we followed climbs higher onto Middle Knob without actually reaching the summit. It bypasses the highpoint to the north before descending down the crest to the southwest on its way towards West Knob. More dense pinyon made it a little tricky getting to the top, Tom and I veering off on slightly different tacks that both got us to the top without much bushwhacking. Once again we checked various locations to pinpoint the highpoint, finding no hidden Smatko register as we might have hoped. Our return was much the same route. On the way back we spied a rusting Jeep in one of the steep ravines off the side of the road. We joked about Tom's Jeep sharing the same fate some day. We were back to the start not long after 12:30p. Soon after starting the drive back down the road we came across several parties of OHVs coming up the other direction. The narrowness of the road and our lack of reverse gear had us rather nervous. A larger Jeep coming head on with us simply manuevered off the road by climbing steeply up the embankment, not without some display of skill. Tom's little 4-cylinder version was no match for this behemoth. Oh, the places we could go with something like that, we mused...
This page last updated: Fri Jul 10 21:12:55 2015
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