Secret Peak P750 WSC
Spruce Mountain P2K GBP
Peak 9,226ft P500
Peak 8,900ft P500
Peak 8,861ft P300

Tue, Aug 20, 2019
Etymology
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPX

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It was still in the high 70s when I left Battle Mtn, NV around 9pm, and it stayed warm for the next hour as I drove east on I80. I turned off the interstate at SR229 and found the temperature cooled to 51F as I was crossing Lamoille Valley on my way to Secret Pass in the Ruby Mtns. This would do nicely, so I simply found a turnout along the road and spent the night there. I had only about 15min of driving in the morning to get to the turnoff for Secret Peak where I started my day.

Secret Peak

Secret Peak is a minor summit in the Ruby Mtns that happens to be on the Western States Climbers list. Others have reported climbing it from SR229, about 3mi one-way and 3,000ft of gain. This route up the North Ridge uses a 4WD road that goes halfway up the mountain, as shown on the topo map. The road can be accessed off SR229 from the east and I figured it was worth giving it a try since I had the vehicle to manage it, assuming it was driveable. There is an access gate off the highway with a sign that mentions the road passes through private property (cattle abound in the area), allowing the public to use it, not something one sees in CA too often. Props to the rancher, on this one. The road immediately crosses a creek before heading west, in and out of several small drainages and crossing a smaller creek before the junction with the road going up the North Ridge. The North Ridge road turned out to be in decent, but not great shape, a challenging drive that took me to 8,100ft, leaving me with only 2/3mi to the summit and 1,000ft of gain. I came across a pair of deer hunters out scoping the area, but they reported seeing only cattle, no deer, and soon took off to scout other areas. I was happy to find the hike would be surprisingly short, taking only 30min up a moderately steep, but pleasant slope. The summit is open to views in all directions, north and south along the crest of the Ruby Mtns, east to Ruby Valley and west to Lamoille Valley. Kathy Rich and Daryn Dodge left a register here in 2015 with a few pages of entries. I considered continuing south along the crest to a bonus peak a little more than a mile away, but when I looked over the south side of Secret Peak it looked a bit cliffy and just tortured enough that I gave it up pretty quickly - I'd look for easier pickings elsewhere.

Spruce Mtn

Spruce Mtn lands on the Great Basin Peaks list, found about 30mi southeast of Secret Peak, far across Ruby Valley. It wasn't exactly on my way along I80, but as a near drive-up and with nearly 4,000ft of prominence, it seemed worth the diversion. The dirt/gravel Spruce Mtn Rd off US93 runs about 12mi to get to the summit. There are many forks and other roads throughout the area and it seems to be semi-popular with the OHV folks and primitive camping. About half of the driving is on decent roads that most vehicles can navigate, then it becomes high-clearance to reach the high meadow north of the summit. The last 1.7mi goes up steep switchbacks with sharp curves, 4WD helpful but maybe not necessary. This takes you to a telecom installation with a large solar array just north of the highpoint. It takes but a minute from there to walk to the summit. There's a benchmark and a register left by the LVMC in 2014 with quite a few pages of entries, proving its popularity. I took some pictures of the surrounding desert, signed the register and returned to the jeep.

There is a trio of bonus peaks north of Spruce Mtn that are relatively easy, taking only a few hours. Peak 9,226ft is the highest of the three and the easiest, especially if you drive up the rough road that reaches close to the summit - I spent all of six minutes to reach the top where one gets a really good view of Spruce Mtn. The other two peaks can be seen to the west and it was to these I headed last. More driving got me to about 1.2mi south of Peak 8,900ft. The other, Peak 8,861ft, is another 1.4mi further north. I combined these in a 2.3hr outing covering about 5mi, a very pleasant undertaking along the connecting ridgeline, though the ridgeline undulates quite a bit. I left a register at the last summit, Peak 8,861ft, figuring such a lonely place might see a visitor every 5yrs or less and could use a little love. It was after 1p by the time I returned to the jeep and a good time to call it a day. It would be over 90F by the time I got back down to the desert floor and US93. I would still have quite a few hours of driving to get myself to Utah and Deseret Peak where I planned to hike the next morning...

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This page last updated: Tue Aug 20 16:45:11 2019
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