|Photos / Slideshow
Ship Mountain previously climbed Dec 10, 2012
The first full day of a 2-week desert roadtrip had me camped off Historic Route 66 between Ludlow and Amboy. It was a poor choice, much too close to the busy rail line that sees more traffic than most in the state, about a train every 20min or so. This wasn't the first time I'd made this mistake on this same rail line, so I had no real excuse. Oh well. I was up around 6:30a with almost an hour of driving to get to the Ship Mountains where I planned to hike today. Route 66 is still officially closed east of Amboy, but as I found the previous year, where the road is washed out there is a dirt road bypass that is suitable for any vehicle. I suspect this is a ticketable offence for non-locals should one be accosted by the Highway Patrol, but I didn't expect any such issue this early in the morning. I drove to Cadiz where I turned south towards the Ship Mtns. The pavement ends after about 4mi where it crosses the railroad tracks. A sign says there's no way to connect to either Route 66 or SR62, but I doubt this is really true. The unusual monsoonal rains that struck earlier in the summer did a number on the Cadiz road, but it is still navigable by high-clearance vehicles, at least as far as I drove it to the SW side of the Ship Mtns. It is, however, no longer suitable for passenger vehicles (I had driven my van on this some years ago, but that is no longer possible). I had come to the Ship Mtns to finish the last three summits I had yet to visit in the range. I would include the range HP which I'd first climbed in 2012 because it would be the easiest way o get between two of the unnamed summits.
Starting out just before 7:45a, I had about a mile of open desert to cross before reaching the base of the range. Somewhat to my dismay, I found the desert "flats" mostly a rubbly mess that made for slow going. I'm not s ure if this is a result of the heavy rains in the area or just how this area is arranged, but I spent about 40min working across the stuff before I could climb out and onto a ridgeline that would take me to the first summit, Peak 2,673ft. I wouldn't make the summit until nearly the two hour mark, but I found the ridge enjoyable class 2, and the ascent fairly smooth since my legs were still quite fresh. The entire day's route would be all class 2. One would have to go out of their way to find themselves on class 3 terrain.
Peak 2,673ft's summit had no cairn, no register, more or less what I expected for these obscure points. I left a register here before turning west and dropping to a saddle with the next summit, Peak 3,208ft. I didn't follow the ridge in its entirety here, choosing to cut off the corner where the ridge turns north by traversing across a handful of minor gullies. Once back on the ridge, it is a low-gradient, easy hike to the summit of Peak 3,208ft, a little over an hour from the previous summit. This summit has more than 500ft of prominence (which means a nice drop to the next summit), not that much lower than the range HP another mile to the north. I left a second register here. On my way off the summit, I ran across an old seismic instrument placed years ago, but now abandoned.
The next leg to the range HP was not as hard or long as the previous one, taking less than an hour and fairly pleasant. I was back at the large summit cairn 11yrs after my first visit. The register was much as I last encountered it. A party of four unrecognized folks had left a sheet of paper in 1975. Andy Smatko had visited in 1979. Dave Jurasevich was next in 1991, leaving a booklet, after which many of the usual folks began to appear. There were an additional eight pages since my first visit - nice to see this cool peak getting more love.
My last summit, Peak 2,619ft was another mile to the east, connected by a rocky ridgeline that proved the most fun leg of the day - almost class 3 in a few places, but not quite reaching that standard. There were several intermediate bumps to negotiate. I stayed almost entirely along the ridge, taking an hour to reach the last summit. I didn't have any more registers with me, so this one would have to go without, but it was certainly worthy of one, also sporting more than 500ft of prominence like Peak 3,208ft. Far to the east was the long, serrated crest of the Old Woman Mtns where I planned to hike the next day. I could easily make out the pinnacle that is Old Woman Statue, a desert classic to be sure.
I dropped south off the summit into a rocky gully that would take me the better part of an hour to descend back down to the desert floor. What followed was a two hour, 4mi+ return to the Jeep, following the base of the range, no all that much fun, especially now that I was pretty tired. For the most part, I avoided staying in the rocky washes to favor the low-angle apron of the range. I'm not sure if this was the easiest way to do this - I suspect there's no easy cross-country in these parts. It was 4p by the time I returned to the Jeep, leaving me with about 30min before sunset - good timing. I drove back to Cadiz Rd and then took a shower before driving another hour or so to get me closer to the Old Woman Mtns. I stopped about 8mi short of my first peak for the next day - this would give me time to eat breakfast while I completed the drive in the morning...
This page last updated: Mon Dec 11 08:08:11 2023
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