Peak 3,682ft
Peak 4,590ft P300
Peak 3,484ft P500
Peak 3,584ft P500

Tue, Feb 11, 2020
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3

At the start of a week-long roadtrip, most of the day was spent driving from San Jose to Joshua Tree. I stopped along the way for some easy peakbagging, a small handful of summits in areas I'd visited previously, but skipped for one reason or another. For reasons I don't quite understand, I've managed to lose the GPX track for this outing. Guess you'll have to figure out driving directions on your own...

Peak 3,682ft

This standalone summit is found west of SR247, sandwiched between Stoddard Valley and Stoddard Ridge. It is just outside BLM lands that encompass a large OHV area around Stoddard Valley. There are a few homesteads in the area and the spur road I used off SR247 is signed for Private Property, though it isn't clear that's really true. I parked off the side of the sandy road and headed southwest to the rounded, rather unassuming summit about 1/2mi away, no fences or signs interfering. The highpoint isn't obvious, but it doesn't seem critical. There are views of Ord Mtn to the east, Stoddard Ridge to the west and south, Stoddard Valley to the north. The easiest summit of the day.

Peak 4,595ft

This was the most interesting summit, found on the east side of Sidewinder Mtn, overlooking Lucerne Valley. I used Lucerne Valley Cuttoff road (excellent dirt road) and a rougher spur road to get within a mile on the northeast side. I parked at the remains of what looks to be an old cistern and headed up a fun class 2-3 gully, climbing about 1,200ft to the summit area. There are two closed contours of equal height, the highpoint found at the northern one. I spent about an hour and a quarter on the roundtrip effort. St. Josheph's Monastery is located about a mile to the southwest from where I'd parked, so I paid it a quick visit to get some photos of the main building and the large statue and cross located on a nearby hill.

Peak 3,484ft

The last two summits are found on either side of Means Dry Lake in Johnson Valley. The off-road King of the Hammers event is held here each year in the beginning of February. Looks like I missed it by a few days as most of the folks have gone home and just the clean-up crews were still occupying the area. There are miles upon miles of sandy dirt roads throughout the area that make for some fun off-road adventuring. I drove one such road up to the south side of Peak 3,484ft and made a quick job of climbing up and down the summit in just over 30min. Sandy class 2, nothing hard about this one.

Peak 3,584ft

I next drove more than 4mi to the southeast, mostly on sandy roads, compact enough that 2WD sufficed for most of it. I parked at the start of a gully on the north side of the summit, a rough, bouldery scramble along a route used recently in the off-road competition. That vehicles could get up this was quite remarkable as some of the difficulties approach class 3 scrambling. There was quite a bit of dark liquid soaked into the rocks, no doubt differential and transmission fluids from damaged undercarriages. One of these days I'm going to have to make a point to come out and see the competition in person. It took about 20min to reach the summit where I found a Mark Adrian register from a year earlier. I had some trouble getting the lid off the baby food jar, but with some pounding against a rock, I eventually managed it. I took a phone call from my daughter while I was up there, seems she was sad and a bit distressed about a rejection she got for an intern position this summer. The sun set towards the end of the call and it started to get cold surprisingly quickly. I beat a hasty retreat back down the gully to finish up by 5:20p. Time for a quick shower and then onwards to Joshua Tree...

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