Mon, Dec 10, 2018
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My last day in the Gold Butte area was primarily to do Tramp Ridge, with three summits featured in Purcell's Rambles & Scrambles. The other peaks were convenient stat-padding summits not far from the road as I was driving back out of the monument.
Because of the early start, it wasn't yet 7:15a when I reached the summit, maybe 15min after sunrise. It was cold and windy and I can't say I enjoyed my time there - better to keep moving. Finding no register, I turned south and began the mile-long traverse along the crest to the second summit, Tramp South Point. This is the more impressive-looking of the three summits as it's the only one that's not just a highpoint on a long section of ridgeline. There was some class 3 scrambling along the crest, a broken jumble of limestone rocks, some of it with exposure. The hardest spots could be bypassed on one side or the other and to keep out of the wind as much as possible, I stayed lower on the west side where it was more tolerable. Tramp South Point had a register left in 2003. The only other entry was from Purcell's party in 2014. I continued south for another mile to the last summit, Peak 5,003ft. The ridgeline was similar, but again I would cheat on the west side to keep the wind off me. There was no register that I could find at the third summit so I immediately started my descent down the west side. This was a pretty tame descent, initially down a moderately steep slope, then easing as I landed in a drainage emptying to the south. I went up the west bank of this drainage to drop into another drainage that would take me closer to my starting point. I made a tactical error here in actually moving two drainages over, which took me down a gully to the northwest. I hadn't consulted the GPSr during this operation and when I reached the road at the bottom, I started walking north, thinking the jeep was in that direction. I quickly realized I was on a part of road I had walked in the semi-darkness of the early morning. I then consulted the GPSr and, lo-and-behold, I was a full mile north of where I thought I was. Oops. At least it was an easy walk along the road to get back to the jeep at 10a, a four hour outing.
Back on Gold Butte Rd I continued north until I was about a mile west of Peak 3,068ft. A young man in a beatup Ford Explorer was parked there. When I asked him if he was ok, he said, "Yeah, but I've got a small problem." Seems he couldn't get the key to turn in the ignition. He was pretty vague about his predicament, but I offered to give him a ride out to the Interstate after my short hike. He said he still had food and someone knew he was out here. I left him to hike to this easy summit, a pleasant enough effort that gave me time to think about the guy. I concluded that he was really just too shy to express he needed help, so I decided to engage him a little more thoroughly to understand his situation.
After returning from the peak I dropped my pack off in my jeep and went over to talk to the lad sitting by his truck. I introduced myself and asked if it was ok if I asked him some questions. After about five minutes, I had him sized up pretty well. He was kinda fucked and didn't realize it, or if he did, didn't seem much worried about it.
I asked him what he expected to happen. He figured his parents would note he was overdue and call the NPS who would probably send a ranger out to look for him. That seemed pretty accurate, I agreed, but "don't you think it would be better not to wait until your parents worry you're missing?" He agreed that was true and to his credit, had packed up his gear in his backpack and was waiting until I got back to accept the ride back out. Or at least until he got cell service and could call his parents, then he could camp the night aside the road until they arrived the next day. That seemed a decent plan, so off we went. His cell phone was pretty old and didn't get service until we'd nearly returned to the Interstate, some 25mi north from where we'd started. As I was heading west, he asked that I leave him there where he could make his phone calls and camp the night. He thanked me as he got his gear out of the back and we parted ways. Among other things we talked about on the drive out, this wasn't the first time he'd been stranded in a remote location. He chalked it up to his "bad luck with vehicles." I was thinking it was probably because he took old cars on solo trips in the desert, but maybe it was just bad luck...
This page last updated: Tue Dec 11 19:11:27 2018
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