March 2017 - a very hot week in the Valley

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MojaveGeek
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March 2017 - a very hot week in the Valley

Post by MojaveGeek » Fri May 12, 2017 8:20 pm

I better post this before it's summer and no one reads the forum! This trip was back in March. It was a strange week. The weather was hot, real hot, 100 in the valley. A couple of years ago we had a trip like this but, despite the fact that it had been an El Nino year, there was almost no snow and we spent a bunch of time in the high Panamints. This year, though, there was snow, and the road above the Kilns was closed. So sort of stuck between a rock an a hard place.

It was cool the first evening when we arrived, and a nice full moon made for a short beautiful stroll out on the Mesquite dunes - we stayed at SPW for the whole week. Most of the light in this pic was actually moonlight - it's amazing what a pocket camera can do these days with low light!

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The next day we went up Corkscrew.
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As with many of the peaks we ended up doing on this trip, Kathy and I had been up there before, but it had been nearly 20 years ago, and neither Eric nor Ben had been. It's always fun to find your old register entries, and the view was just as good as ever.
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We went up the ridge route, which seems to be the main approach these days. It is funny how different the walk was from our memories of the walk!

The next day was an exercise in a bit of frustration. Some years ago three of us had followed a tip from Kauri and gone to Borax BM via the canyon just west of Corkscrew Canyon. We'd tried to loop out by dropping into 20 Mule Team but got cliffed out. But Diconnet implies you can get up 20 Mule Team, and another poster here even had a GPS track, and there is a fork at the very end of 20 Mule Team, while previously we'd looked down only one of them. So we got a bright and early start and headed up. It's very scenic in there, but we could not get up either fork. Just to much crumbly mudstone stuff and we just were not going to do it.
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So we hiked out and checked out side canyons and drove over to Navel Spring. Now it was getting hot. Real hot. We poked around looking for sleeping circles then hit the shade in the spring area and chilled for a few hours until it wasn't quite so hot out. Then we headed up sheep / Indian trails up the ridge behind Navel. There's some nice long ridge walks in there on trails, maybe a few old hunting blinds.
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Next up was Pinto Peak, the long way, from Emigrant Pass. There's an old road which goes a long distance to the summit, and we'd been on that before to the top of Jayhawker Cyn, but we did it a different way this time. First we headed on the other trail out of the pass, over to White Sage Flat. That spot has fascinated me for a while and I wanted to check it out - nice Joshua Tree forest over there, some wildlife, traces of an old airstrip (from when the monument headquarters moved up for the summer?). From the Flat we just headed up ridges, gradually getting into the pinyon / juniper zone.
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We ran out of time and had to turn back about a mile before the summit, but we came out on the old road. It is very scenic up there and there were nice views over to Telescope. We came up the ridge on the right in the photo. A long long day however, many miles.

Next up was a very short drive to attempt to get to Twin Spring way up Mosaic Canyon. We mostly followed the various bypass trails on the way in and so were above the crowds. We took the appropriate side canyon, which was steep but no serious obstacles. The action was at the crossover to the next side canyon and the spring. The route was clear but it was sketchy in places with a bunch of pretty loose crap. Half the party bailed out, then I took a nasty slip which had me sliding on my stomach towards an edge, with everything I grabbed just breaking off in my hands. Well with Eric's help I got out of that jam but then retreated to clean the many wounds and we punted on the main goal. Still there are nice views to the north.
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When we got back to the main canyon we headed up a bit until we were stopped in a stunning grotto.
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This spot is amazing because there is a thick layer of mud smoothed all over the canyon walls up at least 50 feet, and at least an inch thick. You can certainly tell that there are flood events which you'd not want to witness from the canyon floor!. On the way out we encountered a large chuckwalla who apparently appears to those intrepid hikers who get that far up canyon, and we dropped into the main canyon for the late day walk out, when it was nearly empty.
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After taking the fall we all felt like hiking on something resembling a bit of trail so we headed over to Dante's View to hike to Mt. Perry. A few years earlier we'd gone out there but had to stop about half a mile before the true summit. This time we went all the way. It was pretty hot mid day but most of the time there was enough of a breeze to cool us down and of course this hike is continual views as you traverse the ridge.
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I'd planned a number of hikes on or near the valley floor but as the week wore on and it got only hotter each day, it seemed crazy to do these. We we headed west up to Towne Pass and hiked over to Towne Peak. Again, Kathy and I had been there some twenty years ago. The climb up (and down) the basalt rocks above the pass was just as tedious, but once you get up onto the edge of Dolomite Canyon the views are grand and the walking much more pleasant. Although really just a high point on a ridge, the peak is still pleasant with nice views over to the west.
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For our final day, what to do? Hotter still down low. Snow on Wildrose hadn't melted much during the week. So we headed over to Grapevine. It's again funny how your mind erases unpleasant experiences from your memory and we'd sort of forgotten how long that drive in is! We finally started driving up the final canyon but the road was snowed in at about 6500 feet, which is somewhat lower than you can usually get in a 2WD vehicle. But we parked and hiked on, mostly bypassing snow patches on the road. Headed off the road heading west from the pass. My memory (again, from a trip twenty years ago) was that there was a good use trail all the way to the peak, but on this day it tended to disappear in snow drifts so we were largely finding our own way cross country and trying to stay on the snow free side of the ridges. Finally, it was getting late, and we stopped within sight of the final, snow-free slope to the summit. The view is over to Palmer - now that is an epic hike but I wouldn't try it unless I camped at the trailhead to get a super early start (we met another party camped by the road who had done it and were beat but happy)
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It didn't really matter that we got back to our base camp late after that climb as we were just heading home the next day, and we did see a pair of Golden Eagles on the drive back out towards Beatty. No we didn't hit the monster candy store this time :)

On the way back to LV the next day we explored a site around Travertine Spring, which is a pretty little spot just up the road from FC.

This trip was another good lesson in why you need to come out prepared for all sorts of weather conditions. The next week was cool and cloudy in the area, and would have been great for all the low altitude hikes I'd hoped to do. Next year!
Last edited by MojaveGeek on Sat May 13, 2017 5:48 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Gowergulch42
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Post by Gowergulch42 » Fri May 12, 2017 8:42 pm

Great stuff!
Check out my reports and informative ramblings at http://dvexplore.blogspot.com

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wbdeford
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Post by wbdeford » Sat May 13, 2017 9:11 am

Beautiful shots! Gives me some great ideas to add for my future trips. I love seeing the upper Panamints from new directions.

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Randy O
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Post by Randy O » Sat May 13, 2017 8:04 pm

Nice report on a very busy schedule. You certainly covered a lot of ground. We were there the week after you and as you said, it was cooler. We even had thunderstorms and some very strong wind events so it was probably better you were there when you were. Thanks for sharing your adventure.

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MojaveGeek
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Post by MojaveGeek » Sun May 14, 2017 12:48 pm

Yes, I was camping in Gold Butte (our newest national monument) the week after and indeed we had thunderstorms there. Managed to get pretty wet a few times and it was so cold we'd be in sleeping bags as the stars came out!
You just never know what you're going to get hit with in March! And I heard it got so windy that 190 was closed due to dust storms for a bit?

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Randy O
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Post by Randy O » Sun May 14, 2017 4:19 pm

Highway 190 could have been closed one night that we were camped at the mouth of Cottonwood Canyon. I didn't think our tent trailer was going to survive the night and we had to search for things in the morning that would not normally have blown away. My anemometer registered 35 mph but it felt much stronger than that in the higher gusts. Like you said, you never know what you'll get in the spring sometimes.

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Death Valley Dazed
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Keeping up with MojaveGeek

Post by Death Valley Dazed » Tue May 16, 2017 12:17 pm

would be a challenge for me. Wow, you really cover the territory!

Your detailed trip (literally your "trip" and fall) report and photos were captivating for me. Now I've got a few more places for the ol' rusty bucket list. Glad you were not seriously injured during your Mosiac Canyon goof up. That may have gone viral on YouTube if someone in your hiking party happened to have captured you in free fall. LOL

I am keen on seeing that chuckwalla you keep mentioning in various threads here. Thanks for an excellent post.
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MojaveGeek
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Post by MojaveGeek » Tue May 16, 2017 5:54 pm

Well you keep me entertained and give me frequent ideas of possible walks with all the stuff you post so glad to return the favor!

Now that chuck... So if you were to walk up the main Mosaic canyon, you'd come to the place where there is a very clear small bypass on the west, cairned and heavily used. Then you come to another place where there's a chockstone covering about half the width of the canyon, and an easy way to get up it on the east side. Suddenly, you confront a mammoth dryfall. The end.

Except there's a steep and a bit loose (but only at the beginning) trail up from the rock, and it joins the bypass trail (which you might have followed up all the way from near the upstream end of the big wide area after the first polished narrows). You can follow that bypass upstream past a whole set of narrows that are hard / technical to access. It's up there, looking down near that big dryfall you had to bypass, that the chuck lives.

You can follow that trail till it hits canyon bottom again. This is right where the side canyon to get to Twin Spring takes off. But you can also go up the main canyon a bit more to that wonderful mud-coated grotto I posted a pic of.

If you follow that side canyon, it is steep but no problems. Right after a big boulder on the right (shade all day) is the sketchy bypass over to another side canyon which you'd take to Twin Spring. It was on that that I fell.

My buddy Eric said he heard me call, turned around, and I immediately disappeared.. so no chance of a vid :) I was sliding on my stomach on the loose talus, and everything I grabbed to stop the slide just broke off in my hand, so I spread eagled and tried to force my toes in to grip something. I stopped in a precarious position and may well have slipped further, into a fall, had Eric not been able to find a stable spot to give me an arm grab. He couldn't pull me up, so I still had to get on my knees somehow, which took a lot of energy, and flop forward a few times until I got to his stable place.

I paint these details here just to remind us all that s*it happens out there.

Some years ago I peeled of a wall on a 15 foot down climb in or near Crescent Bridge canyon. Got hurt a bit but walked out on my own power with a bit of help and after a day of ice was back in the saddle. That was immortalized as a still. I'm actually in the air in the pic, with my left hand doing nothing really as I didn't have any leverage on the rock by then. I suspect I was uttering some expletive at that moment.
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I'm glad to say that I've lost quite a bit of weight since then!

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Post by Candace_66 » Tue May 16, 2017 8:50 pm

Great report!

Yes, Palmer is a full day's work! I started a bit late (around 8:00 AM) and didn't reach the summit until 1:40 PM!! So my stay on the summit was all too brief, yet I didn't get back to the pass just before dark. This was on April 13, 2015 so the days weren't yet very long.

While above Dolomite Canyon, did you notice if the big white tank is still down there? Charlie had talked about having it removed but I never heard if it happened or not.

Borax BM is on my to-do list too (of course!). But I'd thought about approaching it from Artists Palette. I've tried to find the stuff Digonnet describes way up in 20 Mule Team Canyon, but got stopped. I'm not 100% sure if I was in the right canyon!

Did you check out the little canyon that leads to the pouroff above Navel Spring?

That chuckwalla is a bit of a ham, LOL.

Finally, isn't it funny how it was too hot to do anything down in the valley...but the higher elevations were still snowed in!? :lol:

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Post by MojaveGeek » Wed May 17, 2017 5:55 am

The white tank is still there, Candace. Also found what appears to be a piece of the plane wreck significantly further down - by "found" I mean "saw" in a photo I looked at after the trip.

I don't think you can reach Borax BM from the Artist Palette area. On our second attempt, last year, we got to the base of the blue mountain that is next to it. If you want to push it, I'll send you my pix. Its cliffy and rough travel in there. The route from the other side is relatively easy - if you go let me know as I have a little writeup I did showing best route through the badlands.

The main 20 Mule canyon diverges R from the road at a broad spot where people park, room for a number of cars. There's not many such places there. After that the road ascends a bit and does it's final big turn(s) to get back to the pavement.

No we didn't check out that canyon you mention at Navel. We were really hot when we got there and just had to cool off in the shade for a while!

People don't realize that when you climb Perry, you have to gain as much elevation on the way back as you did on the way in. There was a small group of less experienced hikers going over there when we did, with not nearly enough water, and they kept talking about how they wanted to get to Mt. Perry. We left them behind but eventually one of their party, the only one with a day pack, caught up with us when we took a break at the beginning of the top of summit ridge. I was worried we'd find them in distress on the way back but we didn't so they got out OK.

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Death Valley Dazed
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Was beginning to believe chuck rare as sasquatch

Post by Death Valley Dazed » Fri May 19, 2017 3:54 am

MojaveGeek wrote:Now that chuck...
MojaveGeek, thanks for details about chuck in Mosiac Canyon. I'm printing off your post to take with me on my next adventure in the park.

I'm embarrassed to admit to never seeing one. This in spite of concerted efforts to locate the elusive lizard. I spent an entire afternoon following a rangers suggestion to find chucks below Dante's View but got skunked. LOL
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wbdeford
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Post by wbdeford » Fri May 19, 2017 11:57 am

You might try Darwin Falls...my wife and I saw one along the trail last year. I got a short video of it eating flowers. Will post a link to that over on my 2016 trip report.

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Post by MojaveGeek » Sat May 20, 2017 2:24 pm

Yes I saw a chuck on the way in to Darwin some years ago also.

Chucks like it warm. And when they get too warm, they turn the lower parts of their body, especially the tail, white! Very cool. Vegetarians, won't bite you :)

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