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We had spent the night camped at the old townsite of Gold Butte in the national monument. In the morning we piled into the jeep to head south about 8mi for Bonelli Peak, a P1K in the southern part of the monument. The outing took all of the morning and then some, with almost as much driving as we had hiking. With a long drive back to Southern California, my companions called it a day a bit early to start back while I went off to tag a few more peaks until almost sunset.
Our starting point would make for almost 6mi roundtrip, easily the longest hike of the weekend. We followed the continuing road towards Ruby Spring. As we neared the location, I noticed it was diverging some from Bonelli so I struck off to the south while the others, interested in seeing if there really was a spring (there wasn't) continued on the road. This left me on my own for the entire journey to the summit. Much of it was a pleasant hike through a small side canyon west of Garnet Valley, easy class 1 terrain and surprisingly green for December. Recent rains have left the ground wet and plants eager to spring to life. I eventually started up one of several possible side ridges leading the North Ridge. This was steep, over broken limestone rock, and somewhat enjoyable, getting a good workout in brisk early morning temps. Arriving not long after 9a, I'd spent just over an hour and half in the effort. There is a small antenna at the summit (and a larger, decomissioned one a bit lower on the ridge) powered by a solar array. The views overlooking Lake Mead and the southern section of the monument were quite nice. It was pleasant sitting at the summit in the sunshine, though I eventually had to put on my fleece as I was getting a bit chilled. Matt showed up 10min behind, the others further back. Scott was feeling a bit sluggish and didn't arrive until after 9:30a.
A busy register had some 25 pages of entries, quite surprising for so remote a peak. I photographed them all for posterity as we snacked (courtesy Iris' Halloween candy collection) and took in the views. It was almost 10a before we started down, taking the NE Ridge, for at least a short while. Ahead of the others, Scott and I briefly discussed whether we should drop off the ridge sooner rather than later. We shrugged our shoulders and started down, a steep, not all that safe route, as it turned out. Not exactly dangerous, there were plenty of cliffs and loose rocks to work around. We were spread out far enough from each other to keep from knocking rocks on our noggins. After about 20min of this, we reached easier ground where we reconvened and walked the remaining route back to the jeep, following the original route through the little canyon we'd hiked earlier.
We spent another hour driving back to Gold Butte. There was more discussion and a half-hearted attempt to find a way to do Tramp Ridge and get back before 2p so the others could start their drive home. The elevation gain is something like 1,700ft and 2mi one-way from the east side, probably a three hour effort. Scott was the first to ditch the idea and quite shortly they all decided to start back. I was still planning for a few more days in the area, so I immediately started off for another hike once they left.
I stopped off briefly at the jeep before starting up the other side of Lime Canyon to Salt BM. I thought this was going to be easier since the summit is several hundred feet lower, but I misjudged how far north the summit was from the canyon and ended up spending almost the same amount of time on the ascent as the earlier summit. There were the remains of a survey tower and the expected benchmark, but no register on this summit - no love for P900s around here. My return followed much the same route. I showered in the shade of the WHP where I'd parked, and once refreshed, started the drive back up towards Gold Butte. I got waylaid, however, in looking at the maps and discovering a westside route to Tramp Ridge the next morning. I found a place to park at a saddle in the middle of the spur road I drove up, stopping a few miles from the summit. It would do for a campsite and allow me an early start in the morning...
This page last updated: Thu Feb 6 18:03:16 2020
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