The last day of a desert roadtrip had me camped at the base of Turtle Mtn not
far from Stoddard Wells Rd. This wide, well-maintained dirt road runs for more
than 20mi through the massive OHV area between Victorville and Barstow. I was
here to collect a handful of lesser peaks after having previously visiting the
higher, more prominent summits in the area. Popular with motoring enthusiasts,
I had the OHV area mostly to myself on a Thursday, though there were a few
RVs camped at various spots and a few off-road vehicles I encountered in more
than 20mi of driving throughout the area.
I was up early in order to start the day and capture the first summit at
sunrise. I was perhaps a bit too quick, taking little more than 10min to
up the steep south side, about 20min ahead of sunrise.
A full moon was getting ready to set in as the sun struggled
to get over the Ord Mtns to . Not long after
to the jeep, I was treated to a fine, soft sunrise lighting up the clouds
overhead and the San Gabriel Mtns to ,
clearly visible as the highest summit in the range.
A convenient spur off Stoddard Wells Rd allows one to get within half a mile
of the summit on . I ascended
full of purple flowers on my way to . Reaching it by
7:30a, it was evident that yesterday's clouds had mostly left the area, leaving
This summit overlooks the massive cement plant that lies tucked into Black Mtn
at the north end of Fairview Valley. A jeep road on gets
one within a quarter mile of the summit, making for a very short hike. Andy
Smatko had left a register here , dubbing it "Kovis Peak" and
noting it as his second ascent. It is not obvious how the name was chosen. Like
most of the summits in the area, Jeff Moffat had been the most recent visitor,
but there were a surprising number of as well.
, I could
see that the original highpoint of Black Mountain had been mined away long ago.
This leaves the new highpoint outside the cement plant property which gave me
renewed interest - Jeff had mentioned this was one he'd not done and I'd thought
I'd have to leave it.
I found the new highpoint outside the western edge of the cement plant. It can
most easily be reached via a rough spur road coming in from Stoddard Wells Rd
to the northwest. Not knowing this, I chose an alternate route up from the
north, a that left me a
ridgeline rising up to Pt. 4,175ft to the north of the highpoint. It made for
a delightful hike along the ridge heading south going ,
down to a saddle near (and where I noticed the
rough road coming up from the west), and a final climb up to
. It was about 2/3mi each way and less than an hour for
the roundtrip effort.
About 3mi NE of Black Mtn, gets one within 0.4mi on
of Peak 4,530ft. The deteriorating road continues higher
to a mine below the west shoulder of the summit, but I chose not to expose the
jeep to the extra abuse. There is a nice view of North Lucerne Valley to
I continued driving north on Stoddard Wells Rd, past the junction with Lucerne
Valley Cuttoff. Both of these roads are in good enough condition that I was
able to drive the van on them a few years back. I found my way to a powerline
road that allowed me to get within 1/3mi on of Peak
4,074ft, leading to . Mark Adrian had
left here a year ago, almost to the day.
I next drove back south on Stoddard Wells Rd and then southeast on Lucerne
Valley Cuttoff, seeking out this minor summit on Stoddard Ridge. I had
incorrectly marked the summit on my GPSr the night before which led to
a detour to visit . It was only after I'd
and this lower summit and was
back to Lucerne Valley Cuttoff that realized my error. Some quick work found a
road that would get me to within a mile of the summit to the southwest, and it
was to the end of this road I redirected my efforts. Someone had built a nice
little campsite out here, complete with ,
firepit, and shooting facilities, in need of some repairs. The climb took about
40min, with a neat segment with
off both sides.
This last summit is located just east of Interstate 15, near the
Wild Wash/Sorrel Trail exit. My roundabout way of getting there avoided using
the Interstate, driving a slow dirt/sand road through Turtle Valley to reach
the exit via a backroad. From the freeway exit, Lois BM is about 2mi to the
northeast and could easily be climbed starting from the pavement here.
I chose instead to drive my way to
of the summit on very rough
roads suitable for only the hardiest of vehicles. I'm not sure if I saved any
time in the extended driving effort, but it was great fun finding my way along
in the jeep. This made for another short hike where I found
atop the small summit -
not a very remote feeling to this one.
I finished up back at the jeep at 3p and with another half hour to get back
to the freeway, I was running a bit behind schedule. I was due in Santa Clarita
at 5p for dinner with my sister and her family and would end up being about
half an hour late which worked out nicely since reservations weren't until
6:30p. This gave me time for a shower and a beer and well, that's pretty much
all I was looking for...