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I was back in AZ for the third time in a week, still a wanted man for unpaid speeding tickets from earlier in the year. My strategy going forward is to obey all the posted speed limits (and all other vehicle codes, for that matter) and hope I don't get pulled over while traveling about Arizona. I still have a lot of peaks to climb in the state.
Mt. Tipton is the last of the DPS peaks I had left to do in the state, and not too far from Las Vegas where I'd been climbing during the past week. I needed to get home sometime today with something like 10hrs of driving, so my plan was to start early for Tipton and finish up by noon. The peak turned out to be easier than I expected and I was done a few hours earlier.
Having spent the night near the TH, I was up and on my way before 5a. I didn't attempt to drive the remaining 1.2mi to the Wilderness boundary as that last section is particularly rough and not suited to my low clearance van (it was also the undoing of Bill's Forester a few days earlier where we managed two flat tires off the same rock). Just inside the gate is a sign for Mt. Tipton (which seems to contradict the DPS guide info that says this part of the road is private property) and half a mile up the road is a TH register that doesn't really seem to be at the end of the road or the TH. Odd, that.
It was 5:30a and still quite dark when I wandered into Lower Indian Springs. At one time a gate had enclosed the area to keep wildlife out of the spring (how wrong is that?), but the fence has decayed with time and disuse and looks more like clutter now than a deterrent. I struggled to find the continuation of the road heading east (more easily noted in daylight than at night) and eventually gave up the effort to find it and started wandering up the wash from which the spring emminates. I came across Wilderness boundary signs and BLM survey markers, but no ducks or signs of trail in my wanderings before daylight approached. Eventually I could see well enough to match the terrain to my map and I made some corrections to my direction of travel to get me back on route.
It was an hour after leaving the spring before I found my way to the main wash leading up to the saddle described in the DPS guide. A half hour of following this wash upstream past dozens of ducks (having marginal value since the way seemed obvious) brought me to the described saddle by 7a. Tipton has a reputation for brushy conditions, unusual for a desert peak. So far the brush had been of no real consequence, either due to my skill in prancing around it, or more likely due to plain luck. But clearly following the bottom of the wash seemed the most brush-free way to reach the saddle and probably why someone decided to mark it with ducks.
Above the saddle things did not look so pleasant. I thought a use trail from this point on might emerge, but none did. There were many ducks to be found on the way up to the summit, but only some of these were linked in series that could define a route. Plenty of others seemed to be just random markers placed at random times at random points, probably by random persons for random reasons.
Still, I did not find the brush a serious problem at all and I made good time, taking an hour to go from the saddle to the top. A few false summits presented themselves along the way, but it was not difficult to find the true summit. A benchmark and DPS register were found at the top where continuing hazy views to the surrounding desert areas could be had over the tops of trees. The register was in good shape and dated to 1974, and I took the time to photograph more than 50 pages for posterity. The only other parties to reach the summit in 2009 were familiar names from California.
The weather was pleasant enough, especially since I finally got some sun shortly before reaching the top. Most of the entire hike up from the west had been in the darkness or shade. Some light snow from the previous few days lingered, but was of no consequence. I took variations of the same route on the descent, hoping still to find some sort of use trail, but nothing came of it. Lower, below the saddle, I followed the wash and ducks down to the start where it meets the road I had been unable to locate earlier in the dark. Along the way I found a few campsites in the wash that have been used over the years. There was also much evidence of cattle still grazing on this side of the range, though I didn't come across any of them in the flesh during the day.
It was not long after 10a when I reached the water tank and gate where I'd left the car. I rinsed off with tepid water from a jug I'd left on my dashboard, not nearly enough hours having gone by to bring it up to a respectable temperature. And then the long 10hr drive back to San Jose via Kingman, Needles, Barstow, and Bakersfield. Managed to get home shortly before the kids' bedtimes. It was a fun week just completed, and with the prospect of another week coming soon in December, it would keep me busy for the remainder of 2009.
For more information see these SummitPost pages: Mt. Tipton
This page last updated: Sun Jan 3 15:52:58 2010
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