Day 2 of our desert weekend was spent in the El Paso Mtns. It's highpoint,
Black Mtn, is on the HPS list and had already been climbed by three of us. I had
also been up the next four highest summits on previous visits, leaving us with
the third-tier summits, mostly unnamed bumps. These, however, were really just
excuses to exercise the jeep's capabilities on some interesting backroads that
permeate the area. After using Tom's the day before, we took my jeep on today's
adventure, covering six summits over the course of about 7hrs.
Our driving route started from paved Garlock Rd, turning north on an unpaved,
unsigned road heading up Goler Gulch. The first 2.5mi were in decent condition,
suitable for any high-clearance vehicle, getting us to our first stop
about half a mile from Peak 3,448ft. It took us about 20min to climb
the 600ft+ to the summit, topping out on the day's first
summit before 8a. On our way back,
Tom and Karl decided to follow a motorcycle track to the west that would drop
them back down to Goler Gulch some unknown distance above where we'd parked.
Iris and I returned
to the jeep in 15min's time, then started driving slowly
up the Gulch on the continuing road, keeping an eye out for the others. We
quickly reached a section of the gulch called "The Narrows", where the road
becomes more of a jeep route up a rocky dry streambed that proved a bit
challenging. After first walking the section to ascertain no serious problems,
Iris got out to take some video while I drove slowly up the gulch. We came
across our companions just as we finished the fun part. Tom looked a little
disappointed that he missed out on it.
Terese BM/Peak 4,264ft/Peak 4,290ft
The next 45min were taken up with more driving,
most of it tame, but some
requiring us to stop and inspect the route ahead. Karl opened his bag of
cheesy Ruffles which were consumed by my three companions with great relish and
abandon. Reports from the back seating area described chips being generously
distributed about the floor and other areas, spilled water mixing with said
chips, and the like. It was hard to tell what was real and what was Fake News,
intended to get my undies in a bunch. I was content with the knowledge that the
jeep was designed to be able to be hosed out, if needed, and now I understood
why. Karl was still munching
from the oversized bag when we got out to survey
one possible starting location for our next hike. I chose a spot off the road
in the wash separating the first two peaks, and from there we headed up
to Terese BM.
It would take us 20min to cover the half-mile distance and 500ft of gain to
reach the open summit. The 1959 benchmark was rather plain, not up to
usual USGS standards, though the nearby reference marks were more conventional.
We left a register here while taking a short break,
eventually dusting off our
pant seats and heading north to our second stop Peak 4,264ft. It took 45min
to drop back down into the wash and then up the steeper slopes
to the higher summit where we took a longer break.
Our third summit was just over half a mile
to the north, with another 500ft drop and similar gain to reach
its summit. We were a bit surprised to find a register
here, with four pages of entries
from folks I'd mostly never heard of. In order to return to the jeep and avoid
going back up over the seond peak, we traversed around
the west side of Peak
4,264ft, in and out of more small gullies than we'd have guessed such a small
mountain could support. It was almost 1:30p by the time we finished our loop,
taking about 3.5hrs all told.
Our last hike of the day was a short one. Iris took over driving duties,
partially to keep her from getting carsick which she's prone to do, and
partially as a long term strategy to get her to buy a jeep some day. We ended up
on the south side of Peak 3,342ft, less than half a mile from the summit. An
old road goes even higher to an old quarry site, but that spur road has been
and we simply had to hike up it instead. It took all of 17min to find
our way to the summit where Iris made a scarecrow
of herself in some sort of
summit celebration exhibit. It would take us a few minutes less to return back
to the jeep via the same route.
This summit lies at the western end of the range inside Red Rock Canyon State
Park. It's an easy drive-up from the northwest off Red Rock Canyon Rd. We took
quite some time driving from the east end of the range via a combination of
dirt and paved roads, nearly taking us through Inyokern along the way. It was
3:40p by the time we found our way to the top
where the summit consists of a
large turnaround for vehicles, lined with rocks to encourage one to stay off
the brush. Views extend in all directions, notably to the colorful features
within the park to the south.
Afterwards we returned to our campsite on the
south side of the El Paso Mtns, just off Red Rock-Randsburg Rd, where we
spent a second night. Chips, dinner and generous libations helped us manage the
chilly evening air and while away the hours before bedtime. All good fun...