We had planned to do a hike to Signal Peak and Ten Ewe Mtn today, but it
had rained some during the night and gotten very cold. This left snow on
the summit of Signal, but worse, wet brush on the north side of the peak
where our route would go. It seemed certain our boots and pants would get
soaked, so we decided to postpone it for a day. Instead, we did a
collection of shorter hikes on the west side of the Kofa NWR, low
elevation summits with minimal brush. This worked nicely to keep us dry
all day. With a high of around 52F, it was pretty cool even by desert
winter standards. It was 27F when we started the first hike, but the sun
would soon warm things to a more reasonable temperature.
Little Cholla - La Cholla
These two summits are found on the south side of King Rd, only a
few miles from the pavement. Both were named by Purcell in his book,
Rambles & Scrambles, though neither are particularly special. We
chose our route to maximize the amount of early morning sun. We thus
went up the NE Ridge of Little Cholla to start with, getting our
heartrates up in addition to the welcome sun, though the route is hardly
the most efficient way up. It did have some decent class 2-3 scrambling
with some up and downs along the way, taking just under an hour to
reach the top.
This was the only summit of the day that didn't have a Gordon/Barbara
register on it, though they had recorded an ascent. Eric found some broken
glass just below the summit, so perhaps it met its demise at the hands of
a Wilderness purist, or just a clumsy accident.
The second hour was spent getting between Little Cholla and La Cholla.
The descent of Little Cholla's south side was steep but mostly
class 2 on a mix somewhat loose slopes and more solid options.
The ascent of La Cholla was via the north side, class 2 slopes the
whole way, bypassing a class 3 headwall near the top by going around
the right side. The register had been placed in 1996, ours making the
8th party to sign in since then. In order to make a loop of the outing, we chose
to descend the drainage off the east side of the summit,
though hardly the fastest way back. The drainage curves to the north to pass by
the east side of Little Cholla. There is some brush and small
dryfall obstacles that combined to make it a nice change from the rocky
slopes that we started with. This was the longest segment of the outing, taking
an hour and twenty minutes, but fun.
Eric had a bit more energy for another outing, but not too much.
So we picked this one on the north side of King Rd a few more miles to the
east. We parked on the roadway a mile south of the peak and walked from
there, mostly a nice, flat walk across King Valley to the base of the
peak, then a short climb up the dark volcanic rock-strewn slope to the
summit. The register had been left three days later on that same Kofa trip
in 1996. This had more entries, about 15 all told. The summit has a
nice view looking around King Valley and to the mountain ranges on
three sides. An hour and fifteen minutes for the roundtrip.
Peak 2,152ft - Peak 2,123ft
These two summit are found on the south side of Palm Canyon Rd, about 9mi north
of the other summits. I left Eric at his car to read and while away the
afternoon while I got a bit more exercise to fill out the day. Both peaks are
much like Peak 2,001ft - rounded summits covered in desert varnish rubble, the
footing ranging from stable to suspect. I parked along the road to do the outing
in roughly a triangle, each leg about 1.5 in length. The hike
across the flats was quite enjoyable with the afternoon lighting, long
shadows, not much brush and no deep washes to negotiate. The climbs
were so-so, the descents on unstable ground less so. Both had registers
left by the dynamic duo in 1994, though the one on Peak
2,123ft was very brittle with the first several pages in tatters. A
second register was left there by another party in 2017. Good peaks to do
if you're in the area with some extra time on your hands, but not worth
the time as the main focus.