By: George Tucker
Ten years ago I was two peaks short of a list finish, on May 3 I was four peaks short. The trend was not my friend. The Old-Timers trip to Bridge was a good opportunity to reverse the trend. Mummy came first. With so little snow on the south and west sides, I left the ice ax in the car. The snow shortened the loop trail from the east by burying switchbacks and I discovered the value of walking sticks for climbing scree. At the traverse left to the slot in the top cliff, however, the snow was too hard and steep for safe passage. Fortunately there is an easy third class route to the right. Nice trip. The Cinco de Mayo Bridge Mm. Trip has been reported. Two to go.
The temperature kept rising to record levels, however, during a detour to Olancha Peak. The prospect of Canyon Point in a heat wave was not entirely enticing, but the drive was not too bad in late afternoon. The stream was an unexpected plus. The plan was to start at first light and start back at 8 am. Little matters like admiring the elegant perfectly camouflaged black and white spider, and extra caution regarding rattlesnakes, stumbling, etc. delayed the top an hour; it's amazing how hildng solo focuses the mind on safety. I thought it would be fun to return down the next canyon, then walk down Cottonwood Canyon to the car. It was a lovely route to Cottonwood, though a bit long at the end. At first Cottonwood Canyon was about as expected, except I expected pleasant shade under the trees instead of still, humid, hot air. A little hater, the need to avoid impassable bogs and struggle through a willow thicket did not match my vision of a Death Valley canyon. That part would be better in cooler weather.
Would I do it again at that time of year? Emphatically YES, unless the wildflowers are equally diverse earlier. It appeared that everything was in bloom except ephedra, perhaps the Joshua trees (didn't notice), and a couple of species that had interesting green seed pods. The diversity was amazing, far more interesting than the desert floor, the poppy preserve, or other peaks I have hiked in May.
Detailed information for visiting one or more peaks mentioned in this article can be found in the|
Desert Peak Section Road and Peak Guides
|DPS Archives Index | Desert Peaks Section|