Kingston Peak, Avawatz Mountains
By: Dennis Richards
SAN DIEGO CHAPTER
I arrived at the Kingston trailhead at midnight. It should be noted that the Eastern Approach trailhead is 30.3 miles north of 1-15 on the Excelsior Mine Road and not the 28 miles as stated in the 3rd edition of the DPS Guide. All but one of our party figured it out and were at the designated spot at 7:30 AM. I drove back down the road but could not locate our missing companion. Apparently, he mistook some hunters 4wd pickups for us and thought we had left early without him. Needless to say, he missed the hike but found us upon our return.
The hike out to Kingston went well though it was a bit warm. We sighted a huge Bighorn Ram with full curl horns on the ridge above us as we were approaching the saddle at 6660'. We also saw a hunter at the second saddle at 6920', apparently in search of deer. We drove down to Tecopa Hot Springs after the hike for a shower and soak that was enjoyed by all. What a wonderful place to enjoy in our great western desert.
Afterwards, we found a campsite about 1 mile down the road west of the turnoff into Dumont Dunes,(easy to locate in the dark). We got a late start Sunday as I was expecting the drive into Avawatz to be similar to what I remembered from March of 92, shortly after the road was graded to install a cellular repeater on the summit. Imagine my surprise when we got to the mouth of the canyon, 4.5 miles in from State Highway 127, and found the road severely eroded. We drove the 1 mile stretch to the former 4wd "crux move" in 4wd low range with one stop to shovel rock and dirt into a badly eroded area. The "crux move" was partially blocked with rockfall and all except Rob elected to park here. Rob managed to squeeze through but those of us watching felt we made the right decision in stopping here. The road is better above the "crux" until the top where it again is severely eroded.
Avawatz is a long hike and the weather was warmer than expected. Fortunately, we had the benefit of filling our water bottles at Rob's truck at the cellular repeater. At the summit, we were entertained by Army maneuvers complete with flares and muzzle flashes from large guns far across the desert. The descent was highlighted with two sightings of Bighorn Rams.
Thanks to Rob for assisting and to participants Eric Beck, Lori Lando, Jim Crouch, Kevin Conway and Judy Hummerich for making this a memorable trip.
Those going to Avawatz in the near future can expect 4wd conditions starting at the mouth of the canyon; a reminder that conditions are always in a state of flux on our desert drive-ins.
The revised instructions in the Desert Sage # 238 are no longer appropriate at this time. A campsite, complete with fire ring, is located 1.1 miles from the highway, on the right hand side, as you drive towards Old Mormon Springs.
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