Sat, Jan 26, 2019
Eric and Leroy had left the previous afternoon, leaving Steve and I camped the last night outside the western entrance to Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada. Steve's flight out of Las Vegas wasn't until 1p or so, but he had no interest in doing some hiking in the morning before leaving. Rather than hang out with him, something I could do anytime back in San Jose, I made plans to meet up with Iris back in CA. To that end, I was up around 4:30a to slip out of camp and drive several hours back through Las Vegas to Baker, CA. I got there a bit early, but Iris was pretty much right on time at 7a. We then carpooled in the jeep out to the Silurian Hills for the third chapter in the last two months. Afterwards we found another hike to do in the Mojave National Preserve, making for a full day.
The climb to Silurian BM was about a mile, quickly getting steep as we gained 1,400ft in that initial climb. We followed the vague WNW Ridge, class 2, taking about 40min to reach the summit. We found the expected MacLeod/Lilley register from 1980 though it was quite brittle. Surprisingly, there were 11 page of entries, though only a few from the usual suspects, including Wes Shelberg in 1982 and Mark Adrian in 1995, the most recent entry. The others were various military personnel, geology students and a few random visitors. Oh, and the 1934 benchmark, too. The ridgeline running southeast that connects with the range highpoint was a good one, providing nice views and an enjoyable, 1.5mi stroll that took us about 45min to complete. Barbara & Gordon had left a register here on the same day in 1980, but there was an older scrap from a 1978 visit by a Daniel Phillips from Arcadia, CA. The most recent visitors had been Matthew Hengst and Jen Blackie in 2014, both Sierra Challenge partipants from back in the day.
The segment between the highpoint and Peak 3,198ft was long, primarily because we had to drop all the way down to Owl Canyon which cuts through the range east-west. Owl Canyon appears to be the site of much activity in the past with an old road coming in from the east (this road may be the shortest route to the highpoint, btw, as it comes from the powerline road to the south that we had used earlier in morning). We were amused to find a For Sale sign in Cow Canyon's wash among other debris. A short distance to the west, we climbed out of the canyon where we saw equipment up the slope. It turned out to be part of a larger mining homestead that appears abandoned. The insides of several buildings had stuff strewn about, rat droppings everywhere - they had a field day with the bountiful dry ramen noodles that were stored in bulk - and general vandalism. As we continued south up from camp we came across a rusty bulldozer parked at the end of the driveable portion of the wash. Iris' efforts to commandeer it were for naught. From this point, our summit was another 30min of easy hiking up class 2 slopes. There are good views looking over the range from the top. We were two air miles SE of our vehicle at this point and it would take us about an hour and a half for the return. The going is pretty easy heading downhill to Owl Canyon for the second time, but we then had about a dozen minor washes to cross over against the grain. It would be 1:15p before we finished up.
As it was beginning to grow dark, we returned to Baker where we'd left Iris' car. I showered on the south side of the Interstate before heading west where Iris and I would meet up again in an hour or so off Camp Rock Rd, south of Interstate 40. This was a nice spot far enough from the highway that we would have little traffic noise and flat enough to sleep comfortably. We would drive into the mountains to the southeast in the morning for more desert fun...
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