La Quinta BM P300
Peak 1,276ft P300
Peak 3,820ft P300 PD
Barker Peak P300

Dec 13, 2019
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPX Profile


I had run my battery down the night before, listening to music while dining, writing and reading, finding it wouldn't start before going to bed. I'd done this many times previously with no trouble, though perhaps not quite as long. Not sure if the problem was that simple, I slept fitfully with my head abuzz with a hundred different scenarios, most of which went badly. I awoke at 4:30a and was unable to go back to sleep, finally getting up at 6a and calling AAA soon thereafter. It would be nearly two hours before someone could come out to help me on Corn Springs Rd off I-10. Though I was a quarter mile off the pavement, I didn't get any grief from the helpful guy who showed up in a truck. The car refused to start initially, but after letting it charge through the jumper cables for a minute, it started up and most of the bad scenarios I had envisioned vanished. I might still have problems if the battery was going bad (it has 62K miles on it, though less than two years old), but I could keep closer to civilization for the remainder of the trip. So I decided against driving into the Corn Springs CG and climbing in the Chuckwalla Mtns, and instead went to Indian Wells in the Coachella Valley.

La Quinta BM - Peak 1,276ft

The community of La Quinta is ringed on three sides by rugged desert summits, not all that high but quite rough terrain. Over the course of several visits in the past few years I'd reached most of the points on the perimeter, most recently in the beginning of 2019 when I touched on Eisenhower Mtn. I had left two summits on the north end of La Quinta for another time, and now seemed as good a time as any. Though the peaks appear to be on public lands, there are access issues with gated communities golf courses on both sides. On an earlier visit to nearby points, I had "discovered" a concrete wash that runs out from the gated community to the north that could be used to gain access without having to go through the manned entrance further west. This worked nicely and no one seemed to care much that I was walking the streets once I climbed out of the wash, at least no one stopped to ask me what I was doing there. I walked south to the edge of the community and passed into the unfenced desert terrain at the base of La Quinta BM. Here I began to scramble up rock and slopes, more relaxed once I was out of earshot of the course marshalls on the golf course below. I have no idea if they even care, but I could imagine at least one scenario where I unloose a large boulder that careens down the slope and kills an unexpecting golfer. I traversed below the ridgeline above to avoid a few intermediate points, aiming for a steep gully that would take me more directly towards the summit. I was surprised to find evidence of an old trail constructed up this slope, not simply a use trail, but with rock work on the edges and switchbacks, too. It appears to have been abandoned, probably after the golf course was built and cut off access. Once across the slope, I found the center of the gully had some decent scrambling with less of the loose material that littered the slopes on either side. :3 :P :O >:o <- this is my 20yr-old daughter typing over me while I'm on a plane to Hawaii. Not much different than when she was seven years old. Anyway, to continued with the story (which she finds rather boring). Emoticons defy age!!! -the kid. I really need to keep my fingers on the keyboard to keep her from writing stuff here. It took an hour to reach the summit of La Quinta BM, the higher of the two summits. There was a pole with a flag (it had the tattered corners of the flag still attached, but the rest must have been shredded in the wind), and a rusty set of nested tins holding a badly damaged register filled with entries - seems there are plenty of folks that have gotten around the access issues. I looked around, but found no sign of a benchmark or reference marks. There are great views from the summit of the surrounding communities of Palm Springs, Indian Wells, Indio, Coachella, La Quinta and more. Looking west, Peak 1,276ft wasn't all that far away but the ridgeline was as rugged as other sections and would take some time to negotiate. It would take most of a second hour to make my way along the ridge, sometimes bypassing obstacles to the north or south. There are two summits to Peak 1,276ft. The eastern point has a tattered flag and large cairn, while the slightly higher western summit had a more simple collection of summit rocks. Views were similar to those on La Quinta BM. After considering various options for the descent (one could descend pretty much any direction), I settled on the North Ridge that drops from the east summit. This class 2-3 scramble is fairly steep in places, but not dangerous and made for an efficient way off. It landed me behind the clubhouse of the Indian Wells GC, and it was a simple matter to walk through the property and the surrounding community to get back to SR111 and public right-of-ways. It seemed a little odd on this last hour of hiking, noticing that almost no one walks around here. There are no sidewalks in the gated community and I saw only one other person on the sidewalk along SR111. Cars rule supreme here. I was back to my starting point by 1p, after which I visited the nearby Vons for a few supplies and continued my journey west on I-10.

Peak 3,820ft - Barker Peak

There are a group of four summits south of Banning in the northernmost reaches of the Santa Rosa Mtns. The lands are a checkerboard of BLM and the Morongo Indian Reservation. I found some ascents logged on PB, but it was hard to discern if there were access issues. I first tried the obvious Mt Etna Rd off the state highway as a way to reach Mt. Etna, but I found this gated and heavily signed for No Trespassing a short distance up it. This would explain the complicated driving directions left by Mark McCormick and others that I had ignored. So I scratched that one off my list for now and settled on these other two closer to the highway. I found no gates, fences or signs indicating Indian lands and they both turned out to be easy affairs. Peak 3,820ft is found on the west side of the highway, accessed from a highway turnout to the southeast. A use trail on the opposite side of the turnout goes up conveniently through heavy brush and then lighter brush along the ridgeline once it was reached. It took less than 15min to reach the open summit with fine views north to San Gorgonio and southeast to San Jacinto. There is a slightly lower summit to the west that had some large granite blocks atop it, looking more interesting. It was another 20min to reach its summit where I found a large, difficult-looking block sitting as the highest point. It overhangs on three sides, but a solid (but short) class 3 slab scramble will get you to the top from the northwest side. After returning to the jeep at the highway, I drove a few mile south up to the pass and parked at the junction with a paved road to Twin Pines Ranch. From here, an old, badly eroded road winds its way up to Barker Peak in less than a mile, taking all of 20min. There is the cinder block of a home never completed at a small saddle and the concrete foundation of a lookout tower at the summit. Finishing up just after 4p back at the jeep, I found a place to shower before returning to Banning where I waited out rush hour traffic at a Starbucks until nearly 8p. I then drove a few more hours to Moorpark, west of Simi Valley. I had one more day of some easy hiking before returning to San Jose. I found a very quiet place to park at the Hill Canyon TH that I shared with another vehicle, undisturbed for the entire night...


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