Peak 3,287ft P750
Peak 2,772ft P300
Peak 2,739ft
Peak 1,916ft P300
Peak 1,975ft

Wed, Feb 10, 2021
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I was back in the Mojave Desert for a short, 3-day roadtrip, tagging summits in the Bristol and Cady Mountains. Having left San Jose by 6a, On day 1, I made good time driving across the state, exiting the highway at Ludlow before 1p and starting the first of two hikes shortly after that. I would keep busy for the rest of the day, not finishing up until after sunset.

Bristol Mountains

These three summits are located in the Bristol Mountains Wilderness, about five miles north of Interstate 40. The Wilderness encompasses only a small part of the much larger Bristol Mtns, and oddly includes the adjacent Old Dad Mtns to the east. The northern half of the Bristols are part of the Kelso Dunes Wilderness (which itself fails to encompass the Kelso Dunes), and between the Wildernesses runs a convenient powerline road under a series of transmission lines. The road is decent, sandy at times, and best negotiated with 4WD. I used it to approach the three peaks from the north. The six-mile loop would take me three hours.

I started off for the furthest summit first, Peak 3,287ft, sporting almost 800ft of prominence. I hiked across sandy desert flats and up gravelly washes for most of the first hour. The washes were preferrable with better footing as the sandy flat sections were riddled with rodent dens and I would often sink my feet into the collapsing tunnels. Upon reaching the base of the peak on its north side, I found class 2 volcanic slopes leading up to the summit ridge, with a short walk southeast to the highpoint. Andy Smatko had visited the summit in 1973, but I found no sign of a register. It was the only one of the three that he had recorded an ascent for. I left one of my registers here with an extra entry for Andy. I then headed back across the summit ridge, descending a steeper part of the north side on my way to the second summit, Peak 2,772ft. I had to drop 1,000ft to the drainage between the peaks, but the climb back up was much shorter as the other two summits were quite a bit lower. Peak 2,772ft has a craggy summit that looks like it could be difficult from a distance, but goes at easy class 3 by several routes. There are some shallow caves on the South Face that have been used by sheep in the area to rest and shelter in. I thought this was the best of the three summits and left another register here before finding my way off the north side. Peak 2,739ft was more benign, what TomB would call a "brown lump". Where it had taken an hour between the first and second peak, it took less than half an hour to get between the second and third. There was the remains of a wooden survey tower and a pile of rocks constructed by the surveyors. There is a nice view to the north of the wide, golden plains that drain into Broadwell Lake, the northern Bristol Mountains framing it in the background. I was back to the Jeep by 4:15p, with a little over an hour of daylight remaining.

Cady Mountains

I drove back west on the powerline road, then north on Crucero Rd, and finally west on an unnamed road that heads to the Old Dominion Mine in the Cady Mtns. There were two easy summits that could be done with the remaining light, covering less than 2mi and less than 1,000ft of gain. It took almost 40min to get from one starting point to the next, leaving me about 30min before sunset when I started hiking at 4:50p. I had parked on the south side of Peak 1,909ft, less than 1/3mi from the summit, and it took only 12min to reach the top. I looked around quickly for a register, found none, then headed off the West Ridge towards Peak 1,975ft. There was a wash separating the two and I had to lose all the elevation I had gained before crossing the wash and starting up to the second peak. Moving quickly, I covered the 2/3mi distance between summits in less than 20min, all class 2. I found a more interesting route in a rocky wash on the descent that I took more time to enjoy, returning to the jeep by 5:45p in the failing twilight. I drove back out to Crucero Rd where I found a flat spot to park for the night, showering and settling in for the night. It was a particularly quiet place to spend the evening, far from either I-15 or I-40, and I heard no road or train noise. I was ready for bed shortly after 8p, planning to get an early start in the morning for a deeper drive around the Bristol Mtns.


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