Chuckwalla BM P750
Peak 1,925ft P300
Peak 1,414ft P500
Black Rock

Sun, Mar 18, 2018

With: Karl Fieberling

Chuckwalla BM
Black Rock
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPXs: 1 2 Profile


Little Chuckwalla Mountains

Our party of five the day before had been whittled to three when Tom and Iris had left to return home the night before. In the morning, Scott reported coming down with something and headed for home as well. That left just Karl and I to tool around the Little Chuckwalla Moutains on a Sunday morning. My feet were still pretty raw from the day before and Karl had a stiff back, so we were both good with an easy day. The Little Chuckwalla Mountains lie about 8mi south of Interstate 10 and the Wileys Well Rest Area. The highpoint is found at the west end of the range, a summit Karl and I had climbed together two years earlier with Patrick. Today we were after Chuckwalla BM, the second highest summit in the range and the most prominent with just shy of 900ft of prominence. A dirt road runs from our campsite at I-10 and Palen Dunes Rd, across a low saddle on the east end of the range less to join the Bradshaw Trail. Where the road goes over the pass, it's less than a mile and half to Chuckwalla BM. We had hoped to use Tom's Jeep for this drive, but he'd gone home with a re-injured foot. Instead, we used Karl's Element, which had him nervous in some sandy spots, but it worked nicely. There were a few narrow washes to cross where we bottomed slightly, and another just before pass that Karl wasn't so sure of. Since we were close enough, we simply parked the car and started from there.

We hiked the road a short distance before crossing a wash and starting up rocky slopes to the west. Our first effort was to reach Peak 1,925ft about a mile from the car, more or less on our way to Chuckwalla BM further west. The terrain is all volcanic, desert varnished rock that made for modestly fun scrambling along the class 2-3 ridgeline. No real exposure or serious scrambling, but enough for us to take 45min to go a mile. We left a register at this nice little peak before continuing an additional 1/3mi to Chuckwalla BM, another half hour's effort. The benchmark appears to be buried under some summit rocks and the remains of a survey tower, neither of us caring enough to dig it out. I took a photo of one of the reference marks as consolation. There was a Gordon/Barbara register from 1979 with five other entries since, the most recent in 2009 by Bob Greer. The summit has fine views overlooking the surrounding low desert ranges and plains that inhabit this part of the California desert. We descended to the southeast to drop into a small valley that appears to make for a nice loop. The descent down the wash was a bit tedious and not nearly as good as the ascent route, but it worked well enough without any real difficulties. Upon emerging back near the road on the south side of the pass, we decided to continue across the road to climb Peak 1,414ft, another half mile to the east. This, too, was a decent little peak and worth the effort since we were in the area. We left a register here before descending back down a different ridge that would conveniently lead to where we had parked the car. It wasn't yet noon, but that would do it for us today. We drove back to the interstate where we'd left the van, then said our goodbyes. I planned to drive to Blythe to spend the rest of the day which was turning out to be a warm one.

Black Rock

This was an easy walk-up just off the interstate, west of the Palo Verde Mesa/Blythe Airport exit on my way to Blythe. Paved Black Rock Rd gets you most of the way to Black Rock in about 1.5mi, the last quarter mile on the unpaved continuation that any vehicle can drive. The small volcanic plug has little prominence and takes only a few minutes to hike to the summit (high-clearance can actually drive to the top). There is some sort of poorly-crafted view bench made of rock and cement at the top and a swell view of the freeway, a stone's throw away. Pretty forgettable, as summits go.


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