Thu, Dec 3, 2020
The Pinto Mountains are a broad desert range lying south of SR62, southeast of Twentynine Palms. Portions of it lie within Joshua Tree NP, but most of it is on BLM lands north of the park. Today's summits were in the northern, lower parts of the range, outside the Pinto Mtns Wilderness. Dirt Shelton Rd provides access from SR62, an old mining road reaching into the heart of the range. We had camped along this road not far from the highway, waking in the morning to drive the Jeep closer to our peaks.
Our last summit, Peak 2,634ft, is most easily climbed from the southwest where a spur mining road off Sheldon Rd goes to an old mine half a mile from the summit. I had originally planned to do it that way, but Karl more or less talked me into joining him to do it in a loop with Peak 3,359ft. Even with the longer outing we would still finish early, so there was no need to get it done in a quick fashion. The route between the two peaks is somewhat complicated and non-obvious. We ended up crossing a few gullies that were several hundred feet deep once we had done the easy part of descending off Peak 3,359ft. We would end up taking about an hour and a half between the two. We found no register at the last summit, not really surprising since it doesn't stick out so clearly as the previous two summits. I still marvel that Smatko was able to identify as many peaks as he did just from the USGS maps of the time. We left a register here before heading south back towards the car. We did a better job of reading the terrain on this leg, efficiently traveling along the divide between two drainages without the surprise drops we encountered earlier. It was nearly 3:30p by the time we finished up. With almost an hour's driving to get back to Karl's Element, it seemed a good time to call it a day.
With the extra time in the late afternoon we decided to drive back to Twentynine Palms for dinner before heading east again on SR62. I found a good spot off the south side of the highway at the junction with Ironage Rd where we could spend the night. I sent texts with the location to Karl and my son who would be joining us for hikes the next few days. Ryan showed up with a large box of wood that made for a fine campfire that night. We weren't sure if campfires were even legal with all the fires the state experienced this past Summer, but no one stopped us. Ryan was a little surprised when we headed off to bed rather early, but he would learn over the next few days how easily sleep comes after a good mountain workout...
This page last updated: Wed Dec 9 15:11:36 2020
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