More rain was coming to the California Coast. Half way through the month, there
hadn't been more than a few sunny days. Good for greening up the hills, not
so good for my mental health. Luckily I was heading out to the desert on a
12-day roadtrip, just before the biggest storm of the season, so far. I managed
to get to Barstow with only a few drops of rain while crossing Tehachapi Pass,
but the wet weather was threatening to spill into the desert regions. I
climbed a handful of unnamed peaks in the Calico Mtns near Ft. Irwin Rd, none
of them very difficult. The rock here is all varnished volcanic rock with good
footing except on the steepest faces. It had evidently rained here in the past
few days, leaving the ground damp and the rocks less secure than they would be
with drier conditions. All of the peaks were on BLM lands well outside the Ft.
Irwin Military Reservation.
Peak 3,780ft / Peak 3,660ft
I started this 2.5mi loop from paved Ft. Irwin Rd, An easy 3/4mi stroll
across desert flats to first climb Peak 3,780ft and then
Peak 3,660ft. There are
actually three unnamed, closely spaced summits with 3,780ft of elevation in
the area - two of these I had climbed on a previous occasion, so this was taking
care of some unfinished business. Both summits had small cairns,
sported a register. Heavy clouds hung over the area, but no rain fell. To
Calico Peak, the highest in the area, had its summit buried in the clouds.
Peak 4,140ft / Peak 4,100ft
As I was parking for the first two summits, I noticed a couple of utility trucks
exiting a dirt road on the east side of Ft. Irwin Rd. I guessed this road
might be the one that goes to the summit of Calico Peak and decided to go and
explore along it, to see if I could reach some other unnamed summits in the
area. There is a whole network of roads back here that don't show up on the
topo maps or my GPSr, but are quite enjoyable to drive the jeep on. The
easiest way to reach these two peaks is from the road that runs
across the saddle
between them, but I didn't figure this out until I was on the hike. I
had parked about 1/3mi to the west of Peak 4,140ft, climbing that one
then noticing the second peak only 2/3mi to the northeast. I managed to do
both of them in a 2mi loop, taking advantage of the road
on the way back. Peak 4,140ft had the broken remains
of a plastic film cannister, likely one of
Andy Smatko's registers. These don't hold up as well as his more rugged
metal film cannisters, unfortunately. There were no remains of paper or pencil,
likely absconded for the nest of a nearby mouse.
I had spied this one from atop Peak 4,100ft, about 1.25mi further east. I didn't
have enough daylight to include it in the same hike, but after returning to the
jeep I decided to see how close I could get. "Very" was the definitive,
answer, less than 1/3mi away. Even though it was after 4:30p, I had
plenty of light to get to the summit and back without needing a
headlamp, despite the heavy skies. This summit, too, had bits of a
plastic film cannister.
It would be pretty dark before I managed to drive back out to the
highway, however, but that mattered little - the roads were in good enough
shape that obstacles weren't a serious problem.