Eagle Mountains #1
By: Erik Siering
On a breezy Spring morning, seven adventuresome backpackers met near Cottonwood Springs. We were climbing DPS-listed Eagle Mountain, one of the most rugged peaks in Joshua Tree National Park. Our plan was to carry water on a route up the south ridge to camp overnight on a sheltered plateau below the 5350' summit. The new moon would give us a clear sky for stargazing. Heat was a worry. Instead, we got a snowstorm!David Heffernan was leading his provisional trip, and I was the co-leader. Orange County WTC was well represented by the participants: Group 2 assistant Markey Daley and students Joyce McIntosh, John Gemsch, John Cyran, and Robert Neighbors. We started east on the Lost Palms Oasis trail. After about a mile, we set out cross-country for the ridge. The cacti and green foliage was in gorgeous full bloom. Cool weather made hauling our heavy packs on the rugged terrain bearable. A last bit of boulder scrambling brought us to our sandy campsite at mid-afternoon. Just as we'd set up our shelters, the clouds rolled in and a blizzard ensued. Large, heavy flakes poured down! Joyce and John are true and happy snowhounds. It cleared enough for five of us to climb to the nearby summit and enjoy the 360-degree view. The rest of the storm blew over, but wind-chill put everyone to bed shortly after sunset. The next morning, we descended the customary route via the steep west canyon. Caterpillars and butterflies were active in the bright sunshine. We hiked across the rolling desert floor back to the trailhead. En route, we passed the historic Winona Mine site. This was a great weekend with an fun group. Thanks to Dave for his fme lead, and congratulations to Joyce, John and John for completing their course experience trip requirement quickly with a second hard trip. Way to go OC WTC!
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