My original plan was to spend four days in Joshua Tree, but as I was
looking at the maps of the area, I got distracted by the Bighorn Mtns at
the eastern end of the San Bernardino Mtns. This desert subrange has peaks
up to almost 7,000ft. They lie in the rain shadow of the higher peaks to
the west, so remain very dry. They get occasional snow, but it tends to
melt quickly. The area is home to the Bighorn Mountains Wilderness and a
surprising number of BLM OHV trails. The Wilderness is broken up into
multiple parcels to allow the OHV roads to remain usable. The trails look
to get lots of use - there is little brush encroachment, though some of
the routes are on the difficult side. I used 4Low and my lockers on one
particularly steep section, and there were plenty of rocks on a few of the
trails to keep me on my toes. From SR247 I used New Dixie Mine Rd
heading west, intending to make a big loop through Rim Rock and out to
Yucca Valley the next day. All the hikes were short, less than 3/4mi
each way, most of them much less than this. All the peaks were easy class
2 save for the one spot I found some class 3 scrambling, completely
The lowest of the day's summits, but had the most prominence. It
is found about 5mi in on New Dixie Rd, on the north side. A spur road gets
one even closer, making for a half mile hike each way.
A couple of members of the P.P.P.P. left a register
in 2010. Looks to be an informal group paying homage to the smoking
of weed. They called it Willy Boy Peak, presumably in reference to the
interesting tale of Willie Boy from 1909. He died on nearby Ruby Mtn to
the west after being chased by a posse for months. I used an easy
class 2 route on the way up, then switched up for some class 3 scrambling
through a small cliff area on the way down. Good fun.
This was the shortest hike at less than 1/5mi each way. I
parked off a spur road on the north side
where there is a badly abused but functional picnic bench.
The topo map shows two points vying for highpoint honors,
with LoJ choosing the western contour as the highest. The reality is
that the eastern one is obviously higher. I will have to get LoJ to
change that, but it will get demoted as a soft-ranked summit.
This was the highest of the day's summits, at close to
6,000ft. Found in the Wilderness, I had to walk the bit of
road now inside it. Still, it was
only about 3/4mi each way. I left a register on this one.
Bighorn Mtns PP
I have this as the most prominent summit in the Bighorn Mtns.
The subrange is poorly defined by the USGS on the
topo maps, and seems to encompass little more than the highpoint ridgeline
(an HPS summit), which doesn't even have 300ft of prominence. This peak
may or may not be included in the range, but it does have more than
300ft of prominence. I went up an old road,
now part of the Wilderness for about half the distance, then
cross-country to the top. On the way back, I
took an all cross-country route, more direct, that I thought
worked better. As I was leaving a register here, I got a call
from my daughter. I sat on the leeward
side of a boulder to chat with her about her
latest frustration with school and her tough class on transmission line
theory. We had a few good laughs with the bitch session, but I had to cut
it short after about 20min as I was freezing my butt off.
The roads getting to this one were rougher than the others,
high-clearance with some tight turns and obstacles - good fun.
The hike is short, a quarter mile each way. The highpoint is not
where one would guess from looking at the top or where folks left
but at an outcrop to the south. I got to the summit in time for
sunset. It was 37F, but the cold wind was at least diminishing.
After returning to the Jeep, I did the hardest driving yet in getting
out of the New Dixie drainage into the adjacent Rattlesnake Canyon.
Light was getting scarce, but I made the two miles of tough driving
without too much trouble. I found a flat place to camp at the
junction of Viscera Spring and Mound Spring Rds. More fun tomorrow...