Granite Mountain BM
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Our first full day in the Mojave NP had us on the south side of the Granite Mountains in the southwest corner of the preserve. The range is dramatically visible north of Interstate 40 while passing between Ludlow and Needles. I had been to the range on three separate occasions dating to 2005 when I visited the range highpoint, a DPS summit. The range has great variety, but is dominated by the decomposing granite rock that forms most of the range and has contributed to the sandy nature of the surrounding valleys. Today's summits included the 2nd and 4th highest summits in the range, starting from Budweiser Spring on the southwest edge of the range. A BLM road cherry stems into the Mojave Wilderness to reach the spring from the south, accessed by a series of rough roads that would take us almost an hour of driving in the morning. Add to that the usual flurry of last-minute activity required to get Patrick ready, and it wasn't until after 8:30a that we got started. It mattered little - though I had a stretch goal to include two other summits, the difficult nature of the terrain meant we'd be kept busy and tired in just reaching the two.
Budweiser Spring is located a short distance up Budweiser Wash, something we wouldn't visit until the return. At the TH, there are the battered remains of an old corral. There used to be more grazing in this area, but it has dwindled over the years. We would see no cattle on today's outing, but there are cowpies not looking more than a year or two old to be found. We started by following an old 4WD road, now part of the Wilderness, to the east for about a quarter mile. Upon reaching the base of Peak 6,049ft's West Ridge, we climbed out of the flats and began a long 2,300-foot climb to its summit. There is lots of sand and lots of granite rocks, and the going is not easy. It would take us over an hour to reach the summit from our start, traveling less than two miles. Gordon MacLeod had reported a visit in 1982, but we found no sign of a register he might have left. We added his name to one of our own that we left during our break. Later, we concluded that Barbara must have been with him also.
The continuing route to Granite BM turns NNE, dropping 300ft before climbing another 1,000ft to the main crest. The route looks pretty tame from a distance, but it would prove an illusion - more rock, sand and rough terrain would keep us busy for a full two hours though traveling less than 2mi from one peak to the other. There is no easy ground in the range, it would seem. We found a register placed by a MacLeod/Lilley party in 1982, surprisingly busy. The most recent entry was from a 2018 party including Chris Henry. It was clear by this point that there was no way we were going to do the other two peaks, some 3-4mi to the west. Instead, we had some brief discussion on how best to make the return, settling on what seemed like the most straightforward route down Budweiser Wash. This turned out to be harder than if we had taken the ridge route back over Peak 6,049ft. We spent almost 3hrs descending what seemed like interminable rock and boulder slopes, some class 3 in places, some brush (especially in the lower reaches), a few ticks, and a few dry waterfalls that required evasive action. It didn't help that there was little or no wind once in the canyon with warm late-afternoon temps. Oddly, it appears someone has done some grooming for a trail through the brushier sections lower down. Not much trail work aside from the cutting of brush, which didn't help all that much. Though the brush got thicker, there was only one section that had a few small pools of muddy water - most of the spring is flowing underground, leaving us to walk over dry sand,gravel, and brush. It was nearly 5p by the time we finally emerged from the wash to return to the Grand Cherokee. It would take another hour to drive back out to Kelbaker Rd where we'd left my Jeep. We ended up camping off the west side of Kelbaker Rd at Granite pass where we could spend the night around 4,000ft. It would cool off during the evening and we had pretty good cell-coverage there.
This page last updated: Thu Apr 7 10:44:31 2022
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