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Argus Peak is one of the milder peaks on the DPS list, located at the south end of the Argus Range, across Owens Valley from the Southern Sierra. I saved it for the day I had to drive home, allowing me to get home at a decent hour even with the long drive. Little did I realize that the peak would be embarassingly easy.
Having slept in the van at the end of the pavement in Homewood Canyon the night before, I was up before 6a, or what I thought was 6a. I didn't know that daylight savings time had kicked in during the night, though that hardly matters in outdoor activities far from civilization. The nearby Ruth Mine was in the shadows of the early morning as I headed southwest down the dirt road towards Argus. I hiked up to a saddle between Homewood and Crow Canyons, dropping down into the latter before shortly coming to the end of the road at the boundary with the China Lake Weapons Center. The peak has been suspended from the DPS list for the time being with Maturango, presumeably because the military has asked folks to stop trespassing on its land, much more so since 9/11. Ironically, the solid use trail goes right by one of the warning signs, and it was up this trail that I headed. It was 43F when I started out, but it soon warmed up to the 60s, and would be a very pleasant, almost too warm 72F when I finished later in the morning.
I followed the use trail up the ridgeline for little more than an hour, up and over a few minor bumps. The trail is very good in most places, with plenty of ducks to mark the route through the rockier sections. Despite this, I managed to lose the trail a number of times due to inattentiveness and easy cross-country travel. The rocky sections just below the summit were the most interesting with some fun, if easy scrambling. At the summit I found a register and an aluminum sign stamped with the peak's name fastened to a timber mast. The views were only moderate due to a number of trees around the periphery that blocked about a third of the views. Directly west rose the snow-capped Owens Peak in the Southern Sierra, with hundreds of other peaks in line along the crest as the view moves northwest to Olancha, the Whitney area, and beyond. Bone-dry Maturango Peak rose as the highpoint of the Argus Range to the north, with a number of the Panamint Range peaks arrayed to the east. Below me, four miles to the northeast, I could make out the van in Homewood Canyon.
I didn't stay long at the summit, returning via the same route in fairly quick fashion. The whole outing took only three and half hours, more like an HPS peak rather than the more challenging DPS list. Oh well, they don't all have to be endurance events...
This page last updated: Mon Mar 10 14:53:02 2008
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