Peak 3,448ft P300
Terese BM P500
Peak 4,264ft P300
Peak 4,290ft P750
Peak 3,342ft P300
Opal Peak P300

Sun, Nov 18, 2018

With: Tom Becht
Karl Fieberling
Iris Ma

Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 GPX Profile


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.

Peak 3,448ft

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 the 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.

Peak 3,342ft

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 blocked 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.

Opal Peak

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...


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