Wed, May 24, 2017
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I spent the night camped at Westgard Summit on the dividing line between the Inyo and White Mountains. I had hoped that the 7,400-foot elevation would leave cool temps overnight, and indeed it was already 56F when I pulled over to sleep around 10:30p.But by morning it had warmed to 65F even before the sun came up - it would be a warm one today. I planned to hike in the Sylvania Mountains which straddle the CA/NV border at the far south end of Fish Lake Valley. I was after the range highpoint which fell in Nevada as well as the Wilderness HP which is located in California. Following that outing I drove north to tackle Red Mountain west of Dyer in the foothills of the White Mtns. The combination would easily fill up the day since I didn't get an early start as I had the previous day. It was plenty - I was knackered by the time I was done.
I reversed course and followed my route back about half the distance before forking left to follow around the northwest side of Cliff Canyon. Much of the route I followed was right along the edge of this canyon with very steep dropoffs on that side, making for fine views. Before heading to the Wilderness HP, I paid a side visit to Peak 7,989ft, just inside the NV border. Higher than the Wilderness HP, it has sufficient prominence to qualify as a bonus peak. No register was found here. I then continued on the ridgeline, passing by State Boundary Monument #79 shortly before reaching the Wilderness HP half a mile from the bonus peak. Dan Baxter had left a register in 2016 and already there were five visitors over the next year - more popular than I would have guessed. On the return I bypassed the bonus peak, easily done in the high basin area to the north of it, finally getting myself back to the van shortly before 1p.
I hiked up the continuing road, too rough for low clearance driving, following it for about a mile past the mouth of the canyon to its end. A weak trail continues on, but it soon ends where the hillside has been washed away in a landslide from the creek below. I had hoped to continue on another quarter mile before starting up Red Mtn's NE Ridge, but I could not easily get there and besides, the lower part of the ridge looked very steep and difficult. As I started up from the washed out hillside, I very quickly learned that this is not a very fun mountain. The slopes are incredibly steep and loose and with the heat of the afternoon I was struggling. The route climbed 2,000ft in less than a mile before relenting some when I reached a false summit - the true summit was still more than half a mile behind this first one. With a 200ft+ drop between them, I had one last steep climb before reaching the summit ridgeline, the highpoint about a quarter mile of easy hiking after the steep grade. It had taken almost 2.5hrs to go about 3mi, most of that spent on those last two miles - ugh. With more than 400ft of prominence, the views are quite good. Looking west, one can see the far higher reaches of the range, white with an abundance of snow - and it's almost June. To the east spreads out Fish Lake Valley, more than 40mi in length, sandwiched between the White Mountains and the Silver Peak Range. I rested here a bit, emptying my shoes and drinking much of the remaining Gatorade I carried. Finding no register, I left one in a small cairn before starting down. The return would go much quicker, following a better descent ridgeline than the one I'd used for the ascent. It would be 6:45p before I returned - this one had more than 3,000ft of gain, far more than I had suspected when I had taken a cursory look while eating lunch.
After showering, I drove back out to the highway, then north to Dyer with the hopes of getting a cold drink from the market there. Seems they close at 7p on weekdays - I missed it by 15min. I drove a few miles further north on the highway before turning west onto the dirt road heading up Leidy Canyon. More than 4mi of sometimes rough road (lots of stopping to remove large rocks), got me a little frazzled to the end of the road where there is a large campsite atop a small dam here. I planned to hike Pinyon Mountain in the morning - at least I wouldn't have to do any more driving before starting my hike the next day...
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