Jan 14, 2024
We headed back into Joshua Tree National Park for an easier day, with plans to pick up some minor LoJ summits on the north side of the park road, in the Split Rock area. Once again, we carpooled in my Jeep from our campsite along Gold Park Rd outside the north side of the park.
After leaving the summit, we first checked out yet another point immediately to the north that seemed of similar height. It turned out to be challenging little scramble problem most easily aided by an oak tree against the rock. The GPSr measured it to be slightly lower. We then spent the next half hour working our way over the northeast summit. This one proved much more challenging and an instant classic, in my opinion. It was a tough scramble across terrain similar to the Wonderland of Rocks. After getting close to the summit, I backed off on what was a very airy step across at the crux. Less than a minute after I'd back down and started looking for an alternate route, I could hear TomG's voice coming from the summit - damn him! I think I shouted "Fuck!" or some such annoyance, but TomG had skillfully crossed the gap as though it were no big deal. My continued exploration bore fruit as I dropped down into a tunnel on the north side of the large summit block and worked my way around and through to the south side where I could find some class 3-4 scrambling to get me to the summit a few minutes later. It was a very improbable route, and Iris and TomB soon joined us. The final block is a class 3-4 slab climb on its south side, and within about ten minutes' time from the base on the north side, we'd all gotten to the top. I measured it to be about 10-12ft higher than the LoJ summit on my GPSr, but sadly we'd left the register at the lower, far less interesting point. Perhaps the next visitors could move it? Later, I reported our findings to LoJ's John Kirk, who verified with LiDAR data that the point was indeed higher. And though it even came in 5ft higher than the spot elevation on the topo map, its saddle with Negro Hill proved to be more than 150ft higher than that based on the topo map, and it was demoted for not having 300ft of prominence. Still, a most worthwhile scramble.
Next up was Peak 4,822ft about a mile a quarter to the NNW, with a drop down to the main wash running between the summits. The hardest part of this was the scramble down the north side of Peak 4,733ft. We could have jumped on the Queen Mine Loop Trail that would have taken us most of the way down, but I thought it would be more fun to scramble down the gully to the east of the trail. This was a fun little exercise, the only real scrambling save for the summit rocks on Peak 4,733ft. We were very glad we did, because shortly after starting the scramble, we came across an old mining cabin carefully crafted using the large boulders found at the site, complete with fireplace, sleeping cubby, shelving, roof, entryway and a paned window. It does not appear on the park or topo maps, but there is a way to get to this from the previously mentioned trail and there is an NPS sign found nearby. After exploring the homestead, we continued down the gully to the wash. The terrain changes across the wash, generally easier hiking like we'd found on the first peak, all class 2. We reached the summit of Peak 4,822ft about an hour and twenty minutes after leaving the previous one, nothing special about this one.
In fact, the rest of the outing became your more standard class 2 desert fare. After leaving a register on Peak 4,822ft, we turned west and southwest towards Negro Hill, our last stop. Not long after leaving Peak 4,822ft, we picked up an old road, following this down to another road that has become the Old Queen Valley Historic Rd. This road/trail goes south back to the Pine City Trailhead, but we only followed it for a quarter mile before turning more westward towards Negro Hill. It was a pleasant walk through sandy washes and rocky desert landscape, all easy cruising. We then climbed to the summit of Negro Hill from the northeast and north, arriving about 45min after the last summit. A register in a fancy tin was left in 2018. TomG and Iris had visited the summit a year earlier, making this their second ascent. We took a longish break here to snack and enjoy views before dropping back down to the parking lot, only half a mile to the southeast. It was 2:40p by the time we returned to the Jeep.
This page last updated: Thu Jan 25 13:08:37 2024
For corrections or comments, please send feedback to: email@example.com