Jan 9, 2019
|Photos / Slideshow
My last day in the Bristol Mtns was focused on an unoffically named summit with more than 800ft of prominence. It lies in the central part of the range, about 4mi from the powerline road to the south where I'd spent the night. Despite rising earlier and a short drive to my starting point, I still didn't begin hiking until 7a, much like the previous two days. It wasn't as cold this morning, about 43F, and would warm up nicely to over 60F before I was done. The first mile and a half were almost flat, walking across firm, partially sandy terrain with almost no drops into and out of gullies as one might expect from the across-the-grain direction I traveled. I then turned slightly northeast up a broad wash, gaining elevation slowly as I turned north up a narrower wash, towards my summit. The wash opened up as I climbed higher, eventually leading to the start of the benign SW Ridge after an hour and a quarter. The class 2 ridge made for a nice ascent route, rocky with good footing that brought me to the top by 8:30a. Andy Smatko and pals left a register here back in 1974, coming up with the name "Mt. Sysos" based on the first letters of their last names - Smatko, Yates, Sanders, Oliver and Schuler. The only other vistor was John Vitz and Barb Sheets in 2003, 29yrs later. And then I show up only 16yrs after that - these desert places are getting too crowded!
I had originally planned to reach this summit and call it a day, but upon noting that I had gotten there faster than planned, another summit only 1.6mi away and no real rush to get home, I decided to extend my outing through this interesting part of the range. I would spend another hour and a half simply getting between the two peaks in no particular hurry and not even trying to be efficient in my choice of route. I wandered along the East Ridge because it looked interesting rather than dropping directly into the drainage southeast of Mt. Sysos. I eventually dropped into this drainage, made my way southeast across a low saddle and into another drainage before starting a climb out. I had to go over the crest of the range to drop to a second saddle before climbing up to Peak 3,231ft found further east. I knew Barbara and Gordon had climbed Peak 3,231ft in 1980, so I was surprised to find they'd left no register. Was it possible their supply of glass jars and notepads was not unlimited? I hadn't thought I'd brought one of my own, but after scrounging through my pack I found one in its deeper recesses. Turning my attention now to the business of getting back to the jeep, I once again deliberately chose a meandering route rather than the most efficient. It would have been easiest to drop southwest or southeast into one of two washes and follow those back to the pipeline road and the jeep, a distance of about 4-5mi, mostly flat. Instead, I picked a route that went initially into the southwest drainage, but then west to regain the crest of the range before following the undulating ridgeline southwest for a number of miles in the general direction of the jeep. Had I other peaks on my agenda I certainly would not have chosen this route, but it seemed a good way to stretch out the remaining short time I had in the desert. My route took me through some cool sand dunes where I found an old aluminum canteen half buried in the sand. It was 12:15p by the time I returned, reluctantly acknowledging that my trip was drawing to a close. The water jug on my dash had not had time to reach even room temperature, so I went without a shower. I was out of beer, sadly, but at least had a single can of ice-cold soda to sip on while I was driving back out to Ludlow and Interstate 40. It would be almost 9p by the time I returned to San Jose. The fine weather I'd had in the desert ended as I was driving back over Tehachapi Pass and into the Central Valley with heavy gray clouds and light rain for most of the remaining drive. More rain was forecast on and off for the next week, something I would have to endure before I could get back out in the second half of the month...
This page last updated: Thu Jan 17 08:58:52 2019
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