I was on the east side of the San Bernardino Mtns, doing some peaks in
the Bighorn Mtns Wilderness, and others summits around Pioneertown and Yucca
Valley. Sleeping above 5,000ft, it got very cold, and I was buried in my
sleeping bag inside the Jeep most of the night. In the morning I found it was
23F, far too cold to sleep comfortably with the cloth sleeping bag I use. There
was very little wind, luckily, but it would be cold for the first three peaks
of the day. It would remain chilly most of the day, never reaching even 50F.
All the day's hikes were short, less than a mile each way, all class 2
except where I went looking for something harder.
This peak is located not far from where I spent the night at the junction
of Viscera Spring Rd and Mound Spring Rd. There is on the
southwest flank of the mountain (identified on Google Maps) with a rough
road leading to it. I was able to drive another few hundred feet up the
slope behind this old ranching homestead (it's in terrible shape and you
probably wouldn't want to sleep in it). It made for a short
to . Nice early morning from the summit, clear
today, unlike the windy/dusty conditions yesterday. There is a great view of
to the southwest.
This was the highest summit of the day, found just inside the Wilderness.
After driving back down to better roads, I visited the
and (both ID'd on
Google Maps) for a few quick pics. The best part was down
Rattlesnake Canyon to get to . This BLM route cuts
through the Wilderness all the way north to Johnson Valley. I drove only a few
miles, enjoying the challenges. High-clearance needed for the obstacles, 4WD
for the sand. This was the longest hike of the day, a little over 2mi roundtrip,
going from to get on
an onto the summit. There is a fine view looking
into Johnson Valley and across the expanse of the Mojave
Desert. I left before via nearly the
Also found just inside the Wilderness, this one rises
a few miles south of the previous peak. I drove back up the canyon
for about a mile, then made the steep half mile ascent
. Two points vie for .
LoJ has the northern one as highest, but they looked similar and I visited both.
Black Lava Butte
I spent the next hour back out of the higher hills, through
the small community of Rimrock, then down paved Pipes Rd.
The next three summits are all flat-topped volcanic buttes on either side
of Pipes Rd. Black Lava Butte is a short but steep hike up
of dirt Boulder View Dr. There are residences on the
south side of the road, but the north side is all BLM. is
limited. The flanks of the butte are quite steep. Once ,
the terrain is pretty flat, making for a not-so-interesting hike
looking for the highpoint. I would repeat this on the next two summits.
Best I could do was locate the LoJ point and call it good as it's
impossible to discern an actual highest point.
I approached this one from the south too. There is a short BLM route
off Pipes Rd requiring high-clearance to get you a little higher
for starting. was longer, but similar to that for Black Lava
Butte. I chose a different way that was awful -
atop firmpack, and I landed on my butt three times before
I got down. Nasty stuff. As the name suggests, is flat and the
actual highpoint ellusive.
The shortest route to this is from the north along Pipes Rd, but access is
blocked by homesteads and ranches on the south side of the road. Instead,
I used Joshua Canyon Rd (conveniently, directly across Pipes Rd from the BLM
route I used for Flat Top, then west up sandy Pipes Wash that passes
on the of . 4WD needed for heavy sand.
The climb was similar to the previous two, I only landed on my ass once on the
way down. The highpoint is somewhere on , so at least
there is no march across flatness on a fool's errand.
at the Jeep, I continued west up , eventually
exiting on through and onto Pipes Rd. I drove back to
the junction with Rimrock/Pioneertown Rd and took that to Pioneertown. I turned
south onto and followed it to its end at
on of Sawtooths East. The
Sawtooths area looks more like something you'd find in Joshua Tree, a granite
jumble of boulder and blocks mixed with much sand. The hike was only about 1/3mi
each way, but it seemed to take longer than any of the others. There is a decent
use trail up from the water tank, but it doesn't seem to go to the summit,
leaving one to find their own way. There is an easy
at the highpoint, with looking
around the Sawtooths area. Pioneertown is laid out in neat rows to
. I used a variation off the summit that had me scrambling
down , easy class 3 and a bit of fun.
I went back to Pioneertown Rd and followed it out to Yucca Valley and
SR62. A few miles west on SR62 got me to Pinon Dr. I followed this
up, northwest and west, eventually branching onto a dirt road that goes
west from the last vestiges of civilization. There are numerous properties
out here, has anything built on it. There are some nice pads
overlooking the highway almost 800ft below, that look like they might make
nice camp spots. I south of Pierson BM at an empty lot and went
up on foot. Lots of and rock here
too, not of particularly good quality, but decent footing. Animal trails helped
navigate past two intermediate points to reach about
1/2mi away. Someone fashioned a cross from the survey stakes and wire left at
the summit by the USGS 90yrs earlier. I found one of the
but the benchmark appears buried under a large cairn beneath the cross.
Great view looking to the Sawtooths and the rugged canyons
North Park Peak
This last summit is found a few miles east of Pierson BM. It's sister peak
is South Park Peak to the southeast, on the south side of Yucca Valley.
The topo map shows a picnic area on the east side of North Park Peak with
a looping trail going to the summit. My intent was to use this trail, but
I ended up at the end of a dirt spur road on of the
peak, somewhat accidentally. I went up from there, making in
about 15min, finding , the remains of what looks like
something to hold a register, and a well-used trail. On the way down I
nearly to the bottom, leaving it to traverse south
into the adjacent canyon where my . It looks like the
public is still welcome to use the
trail, but access is not as shown on the topo - better to use the
satellite view to find the series of turns to get you there. New
developments over the years have changed the access route.
It was after 5p and very close to sunset when I finished up. I showered
where I was parked, then headed to Yucca Valley for gas and dinner.
Tomorrow I may actually get to Joshua Tree as originally planned...