We had about half a day in the Yucca Valley area before we had to head home at the close of a 4-day roadtrip. Our primary objective was Peak 4,100ft in the Little San Bernardino Mtns. I had been up Little Morongo Canyon the previous month and found some fun peakbagging in this range, south of SR62 and Yucca Valley. The weather was expected to turn drizzly with snow flurries as the day went on, so we did the hardest one first and found the easier ones to do with the remaining time before we had to head home.

Peak 4,100ft

We used Tom's Jeep today, driving it through the backwaters of Yucca Valley and down into the canyon on BLM lands, west of Joshua Tree NP. The upper part of the canyon is littered with decades of abandoned/ditched vehicles, perhaps two dozen, all told. They are riddled with bullet holes and most of them were stripped of useable parts. We guessed it had much to do with young men fueled on alcohol. We parked the Jeep off the side of the road in the canyon and went up the NW Ridge from there. Though terribly steep right out of the chute, the sandy footing was pretty good and it had none of the bouldery-ness of the previous two days. Once on the upper ridge, it was a very enjoyable hike, taking just under an hour to reach the summit. We briefly discussed making a much bigger outing by heading to Peak 4,359ft, about a mile and a half to the south. We decided against this with the uncertainty in the weather - we could already see precipitation well to the west and northwest. After leaving a register, we made a loop of it by descending the East Ridge and going over the minor Pt. 3,862ft, to encircle the drainage to the north of Peak 4,100ft. We thought this a lovely outing, taking two hours to cover just under 3mi with 1,400ft of gain.

Peak 4,449ft

This summit is on the approach to the first summit. I had visited it a month earlier, but thought Tom might enjoy doing this near drive-up. On the way back from Peak 4,100ft, we explored the spur roads to the northwest and found our way to Peak 4,449ft. I had stopped that first time at the base of the hill, but after walking the steepest part of the road, determined that it was easier than it first looked. Tom had no trouble navigating his Jeep to the small clearing at the top. We hiked the short distance to the summit, took a few photos, and returned to the Jeep.

Burnt Mountain

Back in the town of Yucca Valley, we had about an hour before Tom needed to head home. This short hike fit the bill nicely, and it has some interesting history as well. The standalone summit is situated in the middle of Yucca Valley. The paved road going to the summit from the east is heavily gated. Google Maps shows the summit to be occupied by a Sprint cell tower. The satellite view shows what looks to be a large home with a massive wooden deck. We approached from the northwest at the end of Victor Vista Ave. An old road, no longer used, goes up from here, signed for No Trespassing. We used an even older road heading due south, unsigned, to start up the hill before making our way to the other road. We could see wooden fences above and eventually noticed another home on the hillside below to the east of where we started. Our route took us past a water tank that we believe belongs to this second house, apparently occupied. We continued up to the top, moving cautiously should we see signs of occupation at the top. Upon closer inspection, we found it abandoned and in disrepair. We walked around the house to gain the highpoint, looking, but not venturing inside. It appears to have been an impressive estate at one time. Efforts were made to board up the house, but then abandoned without finishing. The insides have been mostly stripped of anything valuable, but there is nice stonework inside and out, telling of better days. Later, we found that the home had been built by composer Jimmy Van Heusen, a good friend of Frank Sinatra, back in the 1950s and 60s. He had introduced Sinatra to the Palm Springs area back in the day, and wrote more than 75 songs that Frank recorded. Though now abandoned, the poolhouse down the road a short distance on the northeast side has reportedly been restored and available as on AirBnB for rent. We were back down before 11:45a, having spent just under an hour on the outing. After returning to my Jeep, we bade goodbye and parted ways, myself with a long 7.5hr drive home. Little did I know at the time that I'd be back the following week...

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