Peak 4,099ft P300
Peak 4,209ft P300
Peak 4,162ft P300
Gravel Hills P300
Peak 3,599ft P300
Dime Peak P300
Peak 3,465ft P300

Fri, Feb 8, 2019
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 4 5 GPX


Day 3 in the Mojave Front Range was a collection of short outings, none more than 3mi roundtrip, most less than a mile. The temperature when I awoke before 6a was 30F, cold, but not as cold as the 19F the previous morning. It would warm up nicely to around 50F before the day was done.

Peak 4,099ft

A modest summit in the Grass Valley Wilderness (as were the next two), this one took just under an hour. The East Slopes are steep and a little loose. Having started just before sunrise, the lighting on this was great, even if the air temp was quite chilly. I descended the SE Ridge which had an easier gradient, then circled back around to where I'd camped. A few joshua trees dot the landscape to add some interest to the terrain that is otherwise dominated by creosote.

Peak 4,209ft

About 1.5mi southeast of the first peak, this one took only half as long. Though a few hundred feet higher, the starting point is also higher and the distance to the summit less than half a mile each way.

Peak 4,162ft

This summit is another 4.5mi southeast of the second peak. Between them is the highpoint of the Grass Valley Wilderness that I had done with Tom six years earlier. Peak 4,162ft lies less than a mile west of the China Lake reservation. I drove the Wilderness corridor road that splits the Wilderness, reaching the south side after a pleasant drive. The closest I could get to the peak was about 1.4mi on the SSE side. Most of the hike was across creosote-strewn flats, easy walking until the last bit which climbs steeply up volcanic rock. There is a nice view of Slocum Mtn to the east from the summit. It seemed a nice, remote place, so I left a register here.

Gravel Hills

This small collection of hills separates the Cuddleback Lake basin to the north from the Harper Lake basin to the south. On my way to the Gravel Hills from Peak 4,162ft, I passed through an interesting place called Husky Monument. It is a compact collection of more than a hundred memorials to various dirtbike riders. They are quite creative, too, made up of various bike parts and equipment, clothing, plaques, ammo boxes for notes. A few of them had lived to ripe old age, but most appear to have died somewhere between their teen years and their 50s. Machines, adrenaline and copious amounts of alcohol are all represented. Add in a healthy amount of testosterone and what could go wrong?

After leaving the memorial, I drove a short distance into the hills and then a side road off the main BLM thoroughfare. This spur road is signed as Private and No Trespassing, but the property appears to have been abandoned some time ago. From the back of this lot, it was about half a mile up easy terrain to the highpoint. Mark Adrian and Richard Carey had left a register here in 2008, but the half a dozen entries since then all seem to be motorcycle enthusiasts. They didn't seem to recognize the value of the red can on the outside of the glass jar as I found it discarded to one side when I arrived. I put it back together when I was done and hid it a little better in the summit cairn. There is a nice view of Fremont Peak to the west. Once back at the jeep, I continued on the BLM road as it descends a canyon that splits the Gravel Hills. It gets a bit rough at its narrowest point and I got out to inspect the route more closely before continuing.

Peak 3,599ft

These next two are minor summits adjacent to Fremont Peak. I was kinda winging it since the BLM roads aren't all shown on the maps I had. I ended up about 2/3mi south of Peak 3,599ft at a saddle on Fremont Peak Rd, though it is signed as a BLM numbered route. From the saddle, I climbed onto the South Ridge and followed it to the summit, a pleasant climb on crumbly granite. I considered continuing on to Dime Peak another 1.25mi to the east, but since I would have to drop all the elevation anyway, I decided to look for an easier route for that one. I returned back to the jeep via a convenient motorcycle track that was a little more direct.

Dime Peak

Driving around, I discovered a BLM road that runs up the canyon between Peak 3,599ft and Dime Peak. This would have been a better place to do the last peak from as well. I drove about as far as I could get the jeep up the wash before the road becomes more of a motorcycle track as it goes steeply up to the saddle between the two peaks. I parked in a side wash and headed north and northeast from there. After doing some contouring to get across several drainages, I found myself at the base of the Southwest Face with an 800-foot climb in the last 1/4mi. Though steep, there is a good deal of nice granite here, making for some fun scrambling and the best peak I'd found in the last three days, hands down. At the summit, I found a glass jar with a collection of paper scraps, the oldest from an Andy Smatko Party in 1976. They were the ones that had dubbed this otherwise unnamed summit as "Dime Peak." I left a new booklet with the other scraps in the jar before starting down. I took an alternate route on the return, contouring higher before dropping down into the original drainage. There was more fun scrambling going this way as well.

Peak 3,465ft

This was the last summit of the day and the easiest. BLM road RM70 goes nearly to the summit from the east. The last part was a bit daunting and I chickened out, parking about 1/3mi from the top. One can legally drive about half of this distance and illegally to the summit, though it seems the latter is mostly motorcycles. The highpoint is to the south, atop easy class 3 summit rocks. The sun was heading down and with a breeze blowing across the summit from the west it was quite chilly. I beat a hasty retreat back to the car, drove back down to the main dirt road and showered. I then drove back out to US395 at Red Mtn and then onto the town of Mojave where I planned to spend the night. I was originally going to spend Saturday doing some peaks with Tom, but decided to head to Santa Barbara to meet up with my daughter who was in need of some comforting and counseling. When I informed Tom of this the previous evening, he responded,

"Confirming you're being a helicopter dad this weekend."

"Ouch. Yes."

"You're enabling her. She's gonna move back home when she's 45."

"If I'm lucky."

"Oh yeah, someone has to change your diapers."

"And feed me. I'll be 84 when she's 45."

"Comic relief for my drive home."


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