I'd spent the night camped on the outskirts of Barstow, my motivation
for doing so
two-fold. I figured I could grab a coffee at Starbucks in the morning
and a salad for my
dinner at Jack-in-the-Box, before heading off to the hinterlands. My
campsite was off the pavement which meant I was unlikely to be visited
by curious or bored Barstow Police, but it had noises from I-40,
town drag races, and some airplanes buzzing overhead, but overall, not too
bad. I slept later than I expected, not rising until 6a. I had a lot of
driving to do, and with my errands, I didn't get started on my hike until
8:45a. I planned to spend several days driving the roughly 30mi BLM
route through Kingston Wash on the south side of the Kingston Range,
tagging a variety of summits along the way. the route splits through the
middle of the Kingston Range Wilderness, an enjoyable Jeep driving adventure.
This 8.5mi+ loop would keep me busy for most of the day. I started from
the defunct Eastern Star Mine, some 8mi from the pavement. This was some
remote country. I had been to the area (though not from this road) back
in 2019 wih pals to do a collection of peaks to the south in an area we
dubbed the "Ma Range". Today's and tomorrow's peaks all lay to the north.
The peaks are all primarily limestone. This usually makes for some fine
scrambling, but there was only a bit of this today, as most of the route
I followed was standard desert class 2. I would spend close to 6hrs
visiting the four peaks in turn. The first summit, Peak 3,389ft, had a
cliff band at the top that took some stiff class 3 to surmount,
though going around the back side would have made this easier. I descended the
NE side (class 2) down to a wash system, and followed this to
the south side of Peak 3,599ft, my second stop. All class 2 up this
one. I left a register here, and on the 3rd peak as well, since they
were the highest of the four peaks. Getting off the north side of Peak
3,599ft took me through a cliff band with some easy class 3, down to
the saddle with Peak 3,690ft, the highest peak
of the day. The SE side I ascended was class 2 as was
the NW side I descended, though this was a bit more involved, route
finding-wise, and more enjoyable, too. I ascended the last summit, Peak
3,126ft, on the south side of its East Ridge. There is a very large
summit block that might be fun to scramble up the south or east sides,
but I took
the easy class 2 way up from the southwest. My return from Peak 3,126ft
was the longest leg, taking me over some desolate terrain with almost
no vegetation, a badlands, of sorts. After weaving my way through this
section, the final mile was an easy walk heading south to return to the
Jeep by 2:30p.
More driving ensued, more than an hour to go 12mi along the BLM route to
the start of the Kingston Wash portion. I parked in the wash for the
1.5mi+ cross-country route to Valjean BM. The route is a pleasant one,
easy travel to the base of the feature, then a steep class 2 climb up the
east side with good traction. The highpoint is just north of the Valjean
BM location. A minor error on my part, I forgot to visit the benchmark to
see if Andy Smatko had left a register on his ascent back in 1970. I
think this was before he was regularly leaving his own registers, and I
found none at the highpoint. Sadly, I was without another register to leave on
this worthy point. My descent was a variation off the east side,
another enjoyable effort as the sun was getting lower in the western sky.
It was getting cooler now, but I was still in a tshirt as I'd been all
day. Such lovely lighting this time of day.
After returning to the Jeep, I crawled under it to inspect the
undercarraige for signs of what might be making the noises I've been
hearing of late. Something is going bad, but I've yet to pinpoint it.
Worse, when I got back in the Jeep, I felt bites on my scalp and neck.
Seems I had picked up a bunch of red ants from the wash I was lying in.
I spent some time shaking out my shirt and hair, but it would be some
time before the last ant was discovered (biting, of course) and destroyed.
Such great fun in the desert, no? I took a shower and then drove another
4-5mi up Kingston Wash to camp where I planned to start hiking the next