Thu, May 25, 2017
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The howling wind that had swept down Leidy Canyon on the east side of the White Mountains had finally died down by morning, leaving very pleasant conditions. The evening before I had driven 5mi up the rough dirt road to park at a small irrigation inlet pond around 6,200ft. I was here to climb Pinyon Mountain, two of them in fact, separated by about 3/4mi. The lower east summit is marked on the topo map and can be found in Walt Wheelock's old desert guidebook while the higher west summit is found in Zdon's Desert Summits, both of which I've been slowly working to completion. After this outing I drove back out to the highway and south towards Dyer to tackle Juniper Mtn, 3-4mi south of Pinyon and also found in the guidebooks.
It would take about 30min to traverse the ridgeline west to the higher summit at just over 9,000ft. MacLeod had left another register here on that same day in May of 1982. Even fewer folks had visited this higher summit. The views were similar to those of the east summit, with closer views of the snow to the west and a slightly wider sweep of the 40mi-long Fish Lake Valley. While I had been climbing to the east summit I had been keeping an eye to the west for a descent ridge I could take down from the west summit. A nice one that I spied went down 2,500ft without any cliff bands or serious obstacles from near the summit down to Leidy Creek. Unfortunately I missed this one, taking the next subsidiary ridge to the west. I was far too along the descent before I realized the mistake. Though my ridge had no cliff bands either, it did not extend all the way to the main canyon at Leidy Creek. Instead, it dropped more steeply down to a side canyon about half a mile from the road in Leidy Canyon. I tried to stay optimistic, telling myself maybe the brush wouldn't be too bad and perhaps there'd be no dry waterfalls to halt progress or tangles of thickets to wallow in. The story would be much better if I then said I found none of this while descending into a bushwacking nightmare, but I got lucky. It turned out to be a very easy descent with a dry, sandy creekbed that dropped about 400ft over the course of half a mile to deliver me to Leidy Canyon without incident. Once back to the road, it was simply a matter of following it downstream for a mile and three quarters, returning to the van by 9:45a - a rather early finish.
Almost an hour later I had finally managed the ups and downs along the ridge and found myself at the summit of Junipier Mtn, proper. Finally, a summit that MacLeod had not beaten me to. Rich May of the USFS had left a single sheet of paper in 1979, supplemented by a small pad of paper by Bob Sumner who visited in 2005. As I had done earlier on Pinyon, I was keeping an eye out for an alternate descent route more directly from the summit down to Busher Creek. I backtracked along the ridge to the northeast for about 3/4mi before turning north to descend a steep, but good subsidiary ridge down to the creek. It had a few narrow sections and some minor gendarmes to negotiate, but overall an excellent route, much quicker than the meandering ascent route. Once in Busher Creek I found a wide, dry gravel creekbed that made for an easy return to the road and then back to the highway. It wasn't yet 2:30p, but I was done for the day. I decided to spend the next hour and half driving back around to the west side of the range and Bishop, to meet Tom, Karl and Laura for dinner there. Afterwards, we drove back up to near Montgomery Pass on the north side of the range to spend the night off US6 on Queen Mine Rd. We planned to drive this popular road the next day up to Queen Mine to do some hiking there. The temperatures would drop steadily through the night, reaching 38F by morning - Brrrr...
This page last updated: Wed May 31 11:03:45 2017
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