At the start of an 11-day desert roadtrip, I had gotten up early, around 4a, so
that I could get more than a half day's effort in following the 6hr+ drive from
San Jose. The peaks were scattered along Interstate 40 east of Barstow, in and
around the Mojave National Preserve. Most were short jaunts, the longest a
couple of miles when linking several together.
The first three summits were all located within a short distance of I-40, with
no nearby exits or other roads I could use to access them. Consequently, I
parked just off the freeway, hoping I wouldn't draw the attention of the Highway
Patrol for a citation. Peak 3,146ft lies 1/3mi south of the highway in the
Bristol Mountains. The freeway fence here is a low, gridded thing,
designed to keep out tortoises and not much else. The ascent took less than
15min, the descent about 10min. The summit is a rounded bump with so-so
views, mostly of the Interstate stretching west to east.
Peak 3,385ft - Peak 3,467ft
These two are found about 5mi east of the first two, one on either side of the
freeway. Peak 3,385ft is on the south side, in the Bristol Mtns.
Peak 3,467ft is on the north side, part of the Old Dad Mtns and the Bristol
Mtns Wilderness, though really both are minor summits inhabiting the middle
ground between the two ranges. There is a large drainage tunnel going
under the freeway between the two peaks, making for a convenient means of
getting from one side of the freeway to the other without having to dodge
vehicle traffic. Peak 3,385ft is the easier of two, taking less than 15min to
reach the top where a large cairn is found. Views are similar
to those of the first peak. After returning to I-40, I went under the
freeway, noting the tunnel has two places where it has had small
cave-ins. It took a little over 20min to reach the higher summit of
Peak 3,467ft with views looking northeast across the Old Dad Mtns and
the Granite Mtns behind it. After ascending the SW Ridge, I dropped
off the NW Face into a wash and followed that back to
the underpass and the freeway.
The next three summits are all located in the Old Dad Mtns, a few miles from
the previous peak. I could have done them in a larger loop with Peak 3,467ft,
but that would have entailed leaving the car on the freeway for a number of
hours. Instead, I drove east to the Kelbaker Rd exit, then used 6-7mi of dirt
roads within the Mojave NP to get me to the eastern edge of the Old
Dad Mtns. From there, Peak 3,877ft is easy enough, taking less than
25min from the northeast. The summit has a fine view of the Granite
Mtns to the northeast.
Peak 3,789ft - Peak 3,723ft
These two are located a few miles northwest of Peak 3,877ft. A few miles of
driving on the continuing road (high-clearance needed, 4WD maybe for sandy
sections) got me within a mile of Peak 3,789ft. There is an old road
is now the Bristol Wilderness heading northwest from where I parked. I used this
to get me half the distance to Peak 3,789ft, then went up the peak's
to get me to the summit in half an hour. The summit is flat and kinda boring,
strewn with lava rocks and no obvious highpoint. From the top, one can see Peak
3,723ft to the southwest looking far more peak-like, the best summit
of the day. After dropping southwest to the saddle between them, I
found some fun class 3 on the volcanic plug's north and east
sides that I used for the ascent and descent, respectively. I left the only
register of the day on Peak 3,723ft. My return route took me east
through the upper reaches of Old Dad Mtns Wash, then through a low saddle to
the northeast to get me back
to the Jeep more directly. I spent about an hour and 40min on the effort.
This last summit is located at the southern end of the Providence Mtns in
Mojave NP. From paved Kelbaker Rd, I drove dirt Hidden Hill Rd about six miles
southeast and northeast to reach the base of the hill in an old mining area
with many prospects/shafts, old road spurs and
mine works. A windmill for a waterpump and a few head of
cattle still grazing the desert here complete the scene.
The hike is short but steep, taking all of 15min to reach the top.
Barbara Lilley had visited in 2011 at 81yrs of age. Sadly, I found no sign of
a register I'm sure she would have left. I finished up shortly after
showered, and drove a few more miles northeast along the edge of the range. I
ended up camping near the Bighorn Mine below Peak 4,816ft where I planned to
start the next morning. There is a old cabin kept in decent shape near the mine
with plenty of flat parking that would have made a fine campsite. Instead, I
got greedy and tried to drive the old road above the cabin. This eventually
degraded to a foot path and nearly got me stuck on the side of the mountain
with a difficult turnaround in failing light. Once I got the Jeep turned around,
things got easier and I parked at a small saddle above the cabin. It was a
fairly high campsite at over 4,000ft and quite chilly, but I slept well in the
back of the Jeep, warm in my sleeping bag...