Sun, Dec 13, 2015
Sometime around midnight a knock came on my window, "Hey, a guy out here says we can't camp here and have to leave." Six of us were parked off Trails End Camp Rd near Parker Dam on the Colorado River. Much of the property around the aqueduct route is owned by the LA Dept of Water and Power, the dreaded DWP. They appear to be the richest, most powerful utility in the state, if not the country and are very protective of their property and equipment, even a small stretch of dirt off the side of a lonely road. Though the small lot was unsigned, we were in no position to argue - I'd guess it wouldn't take him long to fetch the San Bernardino County Sheriff should he require it. Arguing with the private patrol agent seemed pointless since we didn't really know where DWP lands ended and BLM began. And so our caravan was roused from its deep slumber on a cold, moonless night - engines came to life, headlights ablaze and after a short consultation we headed north a few miles to find a yet lonlier stretch of road where we could spend the rest of the night in peace. We found it on the dirt portion of Trails End Camp Rd, off a utility spur road. Thankfully, we were left undisturbed the rest of the night.
Come morning we were up before 7a and getting ready for more peakbagging fun. Or most of us, anyway. Evan was showing off his enormous camera lens in a game of Mine's Bigger Than Yours, and planned to go birding instead of hiking. Laura's clutch had started acting up the day before and she was afraid she might not make it home to Bishop before her Element gave up the ghost. So rather than join us for the second day as planned, she decided to head home early in case she ran into trouble. The remaining four of us squeezed into Tom's Jeep and headed north to continue our quest. The day's agenda had four summits along Trails End Camp Rd with more than 900ft of prominence. Like the day prior, the agenda was a little too ambitious, but we still managed to have an excellent time of it.
We spent an hour to reach the top of the class 2 portion of the left side route. Ahead of the others by a short margin, I went right up a loose dihedral with a bit of sketchy class 3 that I couldn't recommend to the others. Tom found another route up to the left that was easier while Karl explored another alternative even further left. Karl's route didn't work and somehow he misunderstood Tom's positive take on his own route and decided to abandon the effort and turn around before getting in over his head. Patrick followed Karl's cue and also turned back while Tom and I were wondering from above what had happened to them. We decided to continue to the summit which proved pretty straightforward class 2 along the East Ridge, arriving around 11:15a. We waited almost 30min for them to appear but they never showed along the stretch of the East Ridge visible from the summit. We guessed they'd probably turned back, so off we went to the second summit. On our way past the saddle I paused to check out the other route and was happy to see that it was even easier than the first. I called Patrick on the phone (not sure why we didn't think of this at the summit) and told him this second route would easily work. At first he didn't want to use it, thinking he would hold us up too much, but I told him we were heading to the second summit anyway. He commented that Karl was ahead of him and that he'd try to catch up and see if Karl might join him. In the end they decided not to deviate from their return course and would get back well ahead of Tom and I. We reached the top of Peak 2,562ft before 12:30p, looked around for other routes to these summit (the south side appeared easiest, but it would make for a much longer return), again found no register, and returned back to the saddle. Only about 20ft of class 3 was required on this easy route through the cliff band. Like the previous day, we traversed the base of the cliff band made easier by use trails formed by burros and sheep. Once over to the proper drainage, we descended a shallow ridge to the north and joined the others around 1:40p.
Patrick had planned to join us for one more hike the following morning but now decided he'd had his fill and would head home. As late afternoon turned to evening Tom and I drove south from Parker Dam to Blythe by various routes. Tom used US95 through CA while I went via SR95 and I-10 through Quartzsite - my route was about 10min slower for those that care about such things. I contacted Evan as soon as I had cell service but he had already started west for the Salton Sea and would not meet up with us again. The three of us remaining met up for dinner at the Red Cactus Bar & Grill off Lovekin Blvd in Blythe, afterwards driving about 10mi out of town along Midland Rd where we planned to hike the next day. Luckily this area has been set up for long-term camping and we didn't get run off like we'd been the previous night...
This page last updated: Sun Jan 24 08:33:07 2016
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