Riverside Mountain P500
Peak 2,042ft P300
Peak 1,950ft P300
Quien Sabe BM P900

Dec 5, 2017
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPXs: 1 2 Profiles: 1 2


Day six of my birthday desert roadtrip found me alone for a second day. Unlike yesterday which was a collection of short but fun class 3 scrambles, today was two longish hikes wandering about some smaller desert ranges just west of US95, nothing more than class 2 but still enjoyable. For the second day in a row, strong winds swept through the desert (and apparently much of the Southland as a fire rages out of control in Santa Paula), keeping temperatures cool, in the low 60s, quite pleasant all day. Both ranges are exceedingly dry with little vegetation, making cross-country travel mostly easy.

Riverside Mountains

The range is located south of SR62 and immediately west of US95. I had climbed the range highpoint with my son 9yrs earlier, but was after a couple of other peaks (the only other two with more than 300ft of prominence). I had driven in from US95 about half mile the night before where I spent the night and started from in the morning. There was plenty of distance from the highway road noise, difficult to hear over the wind outside. My route from the north required traveling through three major drainages in the heart of the range. It likely wasn't the easiest way to reach either peak, but it worked. I hiked up an old road past the remains of the Calzona Mine, up the drainage to a first saddle where I got a first look of Peak 2,042ft, Riverside Mtn still out of view. I descended the road to the bottom of the second drainage where the road ends. I continued cross-country up the second drainage heading south to a saddle east of Peak 2,042ft. Somehow I missed the saddle I was aiming for and ended up at a higher one further east - oops. I dropped down into the third drainage before starting up to the crest of the range. Upon reaching the crest, I found a section ahead too rich for my blood, choosing instead to traverse below on the west side to makes things easier. Once past this difficulty, I ascended to the crest a second time, landing between the closely-spaced Riverside Mtn and Riverside BM. I visited the higher Riverside Mtn first, arriving around 8:45a, more than two hours after starting out. A rusty tobacco tin held a business card from Sue and Vic Henney. I combined this with a newer register that the mountain seemed to deserve - after all, it had a name and more than 500ft of prominence. A metal pole held up by guywires and surrounded by a squat cairn also decorated the summit. I decided to pay a visit to Riverside BM (a PB-only summit) because it was rather close. It had a better summit cairn, but no register (and not deserving of one, I thought).

I followed my ascent route back to the second drainage, then down to its lower reaches before starting up to the SW Ridge of Peak 2,042ft. This proved a better scramble than Riverside Mtn, over a mix of broken and more solid limestone rock - finally something that wasn't just a mess of loose rock. It was nearly 10a by the time I reached the highpoint, finding no register, unsurprisingly. More interesting was the saddle to the north connecting this unnamed summit to the Riverside Mtns HP. I could see a mining trail descending northeast into the second drainage that would make the return a snap. I even picked up a decent portion of a similar trail on my way down from Peak 2,042ft, leading me nicely to the saddle. The trail leading down from the saddle stayed above the drainage and reconnected with the mining road I had originally taken over the first saddle. A small cairn marked the junction, but the trail was hard to distinguish from the road and I would never have noticed it earlier even if I'd noticed the cairn. Nevertheless, this was a much better route to Riverside Mtn, even if one went over Peak 2,042ft on the way. I paused on my way down the first drainage to explore one of the mine shafts found at the Calzona Mine. It went deep into the hillside, much further than I could explore without pulling out my headlamp. There were rusted food tins and fuel cans scattered about, and further down the canyon were the concrete remains of more mine works that suggested someone found the place valuable. I finally returned to the van a little after 11a.

Quien Sabe BM

I drove back out to US95 and then south about 9mi, about 4mi ENE of Quien Sabe BM, a P900. This one has closer access from the southeast with a high clearance vehicle, but the distance from the highway wasn't so great as to need to wait for friends to join (drive) me. Besides, there was a bonus peak on the way that I was interested in and this would work out well. Both summits are located in the Big Maria Moutains Wilderness at the northern end of the range by the same name. The first two and a half miles cross the sandy desert flats, with numerous OHV trails encountered along the way. None seemed to go in the direction I was heading as the majority were parallel trails running northwest to Rice. Seems they run some sort of OHV races out here and these are all various ways to get from A to B. The climb up to Peak 1,950ft had nothing difficult, more standard desert class 2. It took two hours to reach the summit which has two closely-spaced points. I visited the south one first, but the north summit proved to be about 10ft higher and where I left a register. I spent another 45min dropping to the saddle with Quien Sabe BM and climbing up to the last peak. Along with a large cairn, there is a chrome-plated memorial to a Gary Hogan who died at the too-young age of 39 in 2004. Most of the pages in the 1987 Gordon/Barbara register were taken up by vistors to see Gary's memorial, though these stopped after 2007. I photographed the memorial, the benchmark and some of the views before starting down.

I headed southeast off the summit in order to make an end-run around the bonus peak to save me some elevation gain. Though a longer route, it was made easier by an OHV trail I found at the bottom of the ridge where I crossed the Wilderness boundary. I went over a low saddle on Peak 1,950ft's South Ridge and dropped into the drainage leading out to the desert to the east. Random bits of trash led to an informal shooting range at the end of a decent dirt road that I was able to follow most of the way back to the highway. The sinking sun made for pretty shadows on the wind-sculpted sands which stretch across large swaths of the desert here. It was nearly 4p by the time I returned to the van with just enough sun to take a shower before it set.

Refreshed, I set off for Blythe where I got dinner before driving back into the desert along Midland Rd some 20mi. I found a place to park just off the pavement outside the old mining town of Midland. More fun in store for tomorrow...


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