Hackberry Mountain P1K
Peak 4,924ft P300
Mt. Manchester P1K
Peak 3,569ft P300
Sacramento Mountains HP P1K
Bannock BM P500

Tue, Nov 10, 2015
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 GPXs: 1 2 3 4 Profiles: 1 2 3 4


After two enjoyable days shared with Bob Sumner I was once again on my own in the desert, having spent the night camped at the base of Hackberry Mtn in Mojave National Preserve. I had a general idea of what I wanted to accomplish today but it was somewhat open-ended since I really didn't know how much I would be able to manage today with the limited daylight.

Hackberry Mtn / Peak 4,924ft

I had been eyeing this P1K for a few years, having run out of time to visit it earlier in the year on another desert trip. It was the last P1K I had left of a dozen found in the preserve though I still have many more to do in the more general Mojave Desert. Though the summit and surrounding area are part of the Mojave Wilderness, with a sufficiently endowed vehicle (high clearance) one can drive to within a mile of the summit. I had to start from where the road to Hackberry Springs starts at a corral/campsite two miles from Ivanpah Rd, northeast of the summit. I started out around 6a following the road for 2.5mi to its end, then up class 2 slopes towards the summit. Though a cliff band high up appears to block easy access from the east, it is broken up in the middle section to keep things no more than class 2. The actual highpoint is blocked by this cliff section, but once above the true summit can be seen a quarter mile to the south. A 40-foot rock section at the top gives the highpoint a splash of scrambling before it's over. A good-sized cairn with the remains of a wooden stave can be found there along with a 1935 benchmark, though I saw no sign of a register. On my return I took a variation to the north, bypassing the road I had used on the way up. This allowed me to go up and over bonus Peak 4,924ft an enjoyable ridgeline stroll without any difficulties whatsoever. It was also a more direct path, cutting almost half a mile off the road route, giving me a roundtrip time of about 2.5hrs. A nice warm up.

Mt. Manchester / Peak 3,569ft

These are the highest two summits of the Dead Mountains, a modest-sized range north of Interstate 40 and east of US95 where three states meet at the Colorado River. Separated by less than a mile, it seemed a shame not to visit the second-highest summit while I was visiting Mt. Manchester and would also allow me to take an alternate route on the return. I started from US95 where it makes a wide turn and nearly abuts the Dead Mountains Wilderness, WNW of the summits. Much of the 10mi roundtrip journey travels across open desert floor which took up the first and last hours of the 4.5hr outing. Once across the flat approach, I followed up the West Ridge on a direct line for Mt. Manchester. It was along the start of this ridge that I found what looked at first like old piping from mining days. I nudged it out of the earth with my foot and then stood back when it suddenly took on the look of an unexploded ordnance. Did I just escape my foot getting blown off? Of course even if it was an ordnance I know the chances of it going off years later is pretty low, but still - I had no desire to pick the thing up or even linger there much longer than it took to take a photo. Creepy...[later research reveals it to in fact be an ordnance left over from Ft. Ibis, one of ten desert training sites used from 1942-43 to prepare for fighting in North Africa during WWII.]

It was 11:45a by the time I made my way to the summit of Mt. Manchester where I found a benchmark and register left by a CMC/DPS party earlier in the year, half of whom I'd hiked with at one time or another. Though only six miles to the east, I couldn't make out the waters of the Colorado River though I could tell where it coursed by the swath of green, irrigated fields through the center of Mojave Valley. Beyond Mojave Valley lies the Black Mtns of Arizona while to the north rises Spirit Mtn in Nevada. The vast Piute Valley of California lies to the west while Peak 3,569ft and the bulk of the Dead Mtns could be seen facing south. The ridgeline connecting the two summits looked pretty tame and made for an enjoyable traverse across a mile of the range's crest. Some sheep trail helped, but for the most part it was just easy hiking, taking about 40min from one summit to the other. The second summit sported a register claiming it to be Mt. Manchester, predating the other by some 15yrs. Despite its more senior stature, it would appear to be wrongly placed. I descended west off the summit, taking a line roughly parallel to the ascent route, at least until I reached the desert floor at the base of the range. Then I simply set a mark on the GPSr for my starting point, covering almost 3mi as my route slowly converged with my outbound path, getting me back shortly after 2p.

Sacramento Mtns HP

This medium-sized range stretches across Interstate 40 at South Pass, about 20mi west of Needles. Most of the range is south of the interstate but the highpoint is found in the small portion to the north, less than half a mile from South Pass. There is no freeway offramp anywhere in the vicinity, so I simply parked on the shoulder. Starting just east of South Pass, I found an easy breach in the freeway barrier below in a wash where a flashflood had knocked over the fence. From there one simply climbs upslope by any of numerous possibilities. A cell tower is found only a few minutes below the summit. One can actually drive the dirt road to reach the tower, but it's a long-ass way from its starting point at the junction of I-40 & US95. A 40mi stretch of the interstate can be seen east to west from the summit with a swell view overlooking the slightly lower summits of the range to the south. No register.

Bannock BM

This is the highpoint of the Bigelow Cholla Garden Wilderness. Buried in that name is cholla which is spanish for "crazy death cactus". Most desert peakbaggers learn the hard way to avoid these insidious things with their hooked needles that easily penetrate clothing, gloves, shoes and of course skin. It was 3:45p by the time I had reparked the van on the eastbound side of the freeway and started off. I had only about 45min of daylight left and would normally not have taken these last 4mi so late, but I was on a roll. I made good time, covering the two cross-country miles to the summit in 45min, just managing it before sunset. The view of Flattop and Eagle to the south in the fading sun made the effort worthwhile. It was cold and breezy as I started to freeze my butt off at the exposed summit. The register had been left in 1979 by Gordon & Barbara, the pages brittle and mostly loose from the binder. Almost all the five pages were recognizable names from the usual collection of peakbaggers. I photographed them as quickly as possible before jogging back down, happy to get back to the car without needing the headlamp (or getting visited by the CHP). I drove back to the junction with US95 and then south on a dirt road into BLM lands away from the highway noises. I spent the last night of my roadtrip here, happy with a good day's effort...


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