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The Silurian Hills are a modest collection of desert peaks in San Bernardino County, about 20mi north of Baker and 10mi east of SR127. The plan had been to do a circuit covering seven of these summits over the course of the day, the last of a 16-day birthday roadtrip. Tom wanted to get back early to have dinner with his wife and was shooting for a 1p return time. We could have continued without him, but as I had an 8hr drive myself, I didn't mind the early quitting time. We ended up covering only three of the seven, but enjoyed the scrambling enough to make us want to come back in the future for the others.
Having heard (perhaps incorrectly) that the drive in from SR127 to the west was somewhat rough, I opted to lead us in from the south, a sometimes sandy affair and not altogether short way to get to the heart of the range where we planned to start. We left Tom's jeep at one location and drove the four of us in my jeep a few more miles until we were south of the three peaks we would end up climbing. From where we parked, we were about 1.5mi SSE of our first summit. We began by hiking up a wash where we could see what looked like a residence. It turned out to be an old timer's cabin turned public-use cabin, a quaint little place out in the desert where one could spend a few days relaxing. From there we hiked further up the wash towards the north before eventually climbing out to the left up a likely-looking slope towards our summit. There was a surprisingly good amount of fun scrambling along this route, never more than class 3. It took us a little over an hour to reach the top at a good pace. The summit features almost 900ft of prominence with a fine view overlooking the Silurian and Valjean Valleys on three sides, the bulk of the Silurian Hills to the east. A DPS party led by MacLeod/Lilley had left a register here in 1980, dubbing the summit, "Mosquito Peak," a name we readily adopted in place of an uninspiring number.
The second peak was only a mile to the east but required us dropping 1,000ft to the wash inbetween before climbing about 900ft to the second peak. We found more enjoyable scrambling enroute, and on the descent from Mosquito Peak we found a well-built trail leading from the wash below up to a mineshaft 2/3 of the way up the mountain. Years of work had gone into the mine and the trail, reminding us of the effort that Burro Schmidt had put into his tunnel in another part of the desert. We followed the trail down only a short distance before abandoning it (seems it was heading back south towards the cabin) to head more directly for our second peak. It took an hour and a half to get from one summit to the other, arriving around 11a. MacLeod/Lilley had visited this summit as well back in 1980, only a day later, and had been beaten to the top by Andy Smatko's party by more than seven years. Smatko and party had dubbed this one "Silurwind Peak" - perhaps it was a windy day on their visit. Only one other person had visited, Bob Greer, back in 2008. We wrote very tiny so we could fit all our names on the first page of the register with the others.
Tom was thinking he'd call it a day from the second peak, but I convinced him we could reach the next peak to the east, only 0.7mi away, and still get back to the jeep before 1p. The going was much easier between the second and third peak, with little class 3 to contend with and less elevation gain for the last summit. It took us less than 45min to get to the third peak where we found no register, no cairn, little prominence and less love. We had a register with us that Tom had been carrying about for a few months now, and used it to dub it "Timb Peak" in classic Smatko style by using the initials from our first names. Matt was getting slower as the day had progressed and was running about 10-15min behind the rest of us. Before he reached the summit I had already set off, telling Iris and Tom I would retrieve the jeep and drive it east to the turn in the road to where they could more casually descend with Matt. I met up with Matt shortly before the summit, after which I dropped south off the ridgeline into the drainage below. I descended this about halfway before climbing up a short distance to the west and into the next drainage when the one I was following began curving in the wrong direction. I managed to get back to the jeep by 12:40p, then drove back east to pick the others up a few minutes after they had arrived at the meeting spot. We drove back south to pick up Tom's jeep a few miles away, then continued out to SR127 where we'd left the other two cars. At this point we split up, heading in our respective directions towards home. With easily the longest drive among us, it would be 9p before I was able to find my way home to San Jose. A most successful roadtrip drawing to a close...
This page last updated: Thu Dec 27 18:17:01 2018
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