Fountain Peak, Mitchell Point
By: Scott Jamison, Ken McElvany
Fourteen hikers met at the junction of Essex Road and Black Canyon Road Saturday morning and we all drove to the Bonanza King Mine. Everyone piled into 4WDs and drove the last 1/4 mile to the ruins Of the stone cabins for the hike to Mitchell.
This trip was planned as a hike to both peaks on Saturday from the trailhead to the Cave of the Winding Stair. But permission was denied through the gate because the rangers at the Providence Mountains State Recreation all were shorthanded There has been vandalism and general mayhem in the area, so the road to this trailhead is gated. John Pelonio, the State Park Ranger, sent a copy of an event permit which must be completed and submitted well in advance of a planned hike to the Winding Stair Cave area. Write to:
Providence Mountains State Recreation Area Mitchell Caverns Natural Preserve PO Box 1 Essex, California 92332-0001
Nothing in the current peak guide indicates the severe terrain and exceptionally sharp and loose rocks on this hike to and from Mitchell If I ever consider doing this route again (pure foolishness!), I would insist that all participants have heavy gloves, long pants, and possibly even hard hats! We didn't dally on this climb but we left around 8 AM and finally reached the cars around 4:30. The cat's claw, cholla and the slicing rock were somewhat less than delightful. A usually cheerful Henry Arnebold was heard growling and grumbling to Rick Schneider and the leader (and anyone else with ears) about the quality of the terrain on the descent.
We camped about a mile from the Blair Brother's ranch on Black Canyon Road, which was a nice camp despite the high winds we had suffered through all day and that night. Happy hour was highlighted by quesadillas by Ken and some large mouth bass caught from Presa Novillo in Sonora Mexico, along with lots of various other goodies, and not quite enough wine.
Mike and Cyndi Runyon of Hundred Peaks fame were on their first DPS trip; and I hope it was the draw of Mitchell Caverns and not the landscape or company that led them to choose a cavern tour over the climb on Sunday. As it turned out, they made a fair choice. Oscar, a friend of Roll Matson chose to stay with Rusky, Julie Rush's dog on Sunday, as Rusky suffered from the climb of Mitchell as much or more than the rest of us. I left some reading material with Oscar for the day, and now Rush Limbaugh probably has another subscriber.
We had several qualified leaders on this trip, and 1 was still more than grouchy about the Mitchell climb of Saturday, so Ken relented and was obliged to lead the climb of Edgar. We parked in the Cavern visitor's center parking lot ($5 per car), and, after a quick glance at the write-up, we took off on the Mary Beal Nature Trail, and up the canyon. Sure enough, after about. 5 miles, the trail ended. and we hiked on up the delightful canyon. No sharp, rocks, very little cactus or cat's paw, good dirt, nice shade and some water!. It was a wonderful contrast to the previous day's ambush, and I thought to myself that I might not quit hiking after all.
We reached the ridge, and bobbed and weaved around the 3rd class false summits, following ducks and really enjoying the terrain. Ken reached a point where his route was stopped by a cliff. so I headed east and down from the ridge. and worked my way back up toward the summit. Upon cresting the summit block, I was slightly stunned by the appearance of a somewhat higher peak to the north. (Edgar), that wasn't Mitchell! I opened the register and saw that on previous occasions. several DPSers besides ourselves had managed to climb beautiful Fountain Peak! Rusky was right! We had climbed the wrong canyon and an alternate peak, but we found nice pools and vegetation on the way up, and I hope that the rest of the climbers, (good wonderful people) like Brian Smith, Rhoda, Eileen Ricks, Roll Zappen, Julie Rush, Roll Matson, Erik Siering, and Rick Schneider won't hold it against us. We chose to ignore Henry when he claimed this was a DFU and not a DPS peak.
The light of day was limited, and we chose to come back another day (Oct 29-30.'94) to climb Edgar and Mitchell from the Winding Stair Cave trailhead. Erik signed out just below Fountain Peak and raced over toward Edgar. The group was at. the cars by 3 PM, just in time to miss the last cavern tour. We cleaned up a bit, and decided to leave, but I wanted to wait until 4 for Erik. Henry claimed that if Erik made it back down by 4PM. he would "ků (censored by Sage editor)" and give him 20 minutes to draw a crowd!" Erik walked up to his car at 3:59.
Sage Editors Note: One should certainly be vary of underestimating Erik's speed. It is not clear from Scott's article what happened next.
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