This was the main course for the day, a 13-mile roundtrip visit to a P1K inside
the Ft. Irwin Army base. I was supposed to meet Jeff at the junction of Ft.
Irwin Rd and an unsigned dirt road at 7a. That time came and went, texts went
unanswered, so I started in on the dirt road by myself. About four miles from
the pavement, I met up with a large white truck coming in the opposite
direction. I pulled over to let them pass but they, too, pulled over. I
figured they might want to know what I was doing driving out to a dead-end
road with a locked gate marking the base boundary. I didn't have to make any
excuses because it happened to be Jeff Moffat. He had mixed up Thursday's
meeting place with Friday's, and driven to the wrong location. After 45min of
desert backroad driving, he found me. We moved both cars another mile or so
north to the base boundary to start from there. The signs were simple
but clear, marked "Off Limits". The top strand of a barbed-wire fence was cut,
making it easier to get over the gate. The road going into the base showed
signs of regular and recent use, not altogether encouraging - I was hoping this
was one of those gates along the periphery that hadn't seen traffic in decades.
Though we could have followed it to the base of Oslund BM, we hiked along the
road only a short distance before moving well to the side as a precaution. We
saw no other persons or vehicles on the base the whole morning, seemingly having
hundreds of square miles of nearly pristine desert to ourselves. Most of this
is over fairly flat, open country, as easy as it gets with desert walking and
we both enjoyed it. We found an empty tortoise shell, some
random stakes, old BLM signs, an old Coke bottle and
numerous rusty tins from campsites in the days of yore. After two hours we
reached the base of the peak with a final 700-foot climb up the
southwest slopes. We followed an old bulldozer track up the slope, but
any route would have worked just as well. At the rounded summit we found a cairn
with the register we had expected. I knew that Gordon and Barbara had climbed
it in 2007 (Barbara was 77 at the time, Gordon even older, I think), so
it was no surprise to find their characteristic glass jar. What surprised us a
bit was that no one else had visited. No Richard Carey, no Mark Adrian. It was
blowing hard and cold at the summit, prompting us to duck to
the leeward side to avoid it, but it was cold there still so we kept
our summit visit short. There are pretty good views from the summit with
snowy peaks in all directions - San Gorgonio, Mt. Baldy, Owens Peak, Telescope
Peak and Mt. Charleston, all decked out in wintry white from the previous weeks'
storms. Our return was only a slight variation on the ascent, following the
ridge southeast over Montana BM before descending to the desert floor
and vectoring back towards our start. We were back by 11:45a, having
taken just under five hours, with plenty of time for some bonus peakbagging.
This summit lies about 4mi west of our starting point for Oslund BM. We were
able to drive decent BLM roads to within half a mile of the summit on
its west side. The climb took only ten minutes, finding
a benchmark but no register. Not as impressive as we'd hoped.
This dimnuitive summit is located on our way back out to Ft. Irwin Rd. With
another close approach, it took but 15min for the ascent with
blase views. The highlight, though, was finding a Smatko register
from 1978. There was one
other entry from 1980 before our visit, a neat little find.
Back out of Ft. Irwin Road, we drove south a few miles before heading out again
on dirt roads on the east side of the highway in search of Peak 3,260ft. The
peak could easily be climbed directly from Ft. Irwin Road in perhaps half an
hour, but our 20min of driving backroads got us ten minutes closer from
the backside - our route was not a time-saver, but it was
lovey green slopes, unlike the the browner ones we'd found earlier just a few
miles to the north. The climb is very easy, class 1-2, and provides a
overlook of Jackhammer Gap and Ft. Irwin Rd. After returning to the pavement,
Jeff had to head home to Apple Valley, leaving me to kill another hour or so
Peak 3,660ft/Peak 3,780ft
While a very nice hike in the late afternoon glow, this one was a bit of an
embarassment. The peaks are located west of Ft. Irwin Rd and the
shortest starting point
seems to be the road's highpoint where it cuts through the
Calico Mountains. It took less than an hour and half to climb the two peaks
in a two and a quarter mile loop, going in a clockwise direction.
The slopes are
steep and somewhat loose, so some caution is required both ascending and
descending, but otherwise they were pleasant, easy summits with good views.
It wasn't until some hours later when I was looking at the GPS track that I
found that I had already climbed the pair on a similar loop less than two
months earlier. Clearly, even with meticulous record-keeping, I'm losing it. Oh
well, like I said, it made for a nice hike...