Black Butte, Chuckawalla Mountain
By: Ann Perkins
We were happy that Rich Gnagy joined us for these climbs on his 80th birthday! Also on the trip were Anne Rolls, Bob Hoeven, and Ann and Dave Perkins. We had two last minute cancellations and one no-show, probably because of the rain in Los Angeles, but the weather in the desert was beautiful on the drive out on Friday, the rain abruptly stopped and clouds disappeared between Mt. San Jacinto and the Palm Springs turn-off.
We had a leisurely start on Saturday morning, meeting at 9:00 and getting to the trailhead at about 10:30. We had opted not to drive the 4wd section because the hike was short, and so proceeded up the road enjoying the fme weather and the display of barrel cactus and many kinds of cholla.
On the ascent we went up the main canyon to the notch, and then turned right and went up the ridge and over a series of ups and downs to the summit. We took a long lunch, admiring the views and perusing the register, and noting that Doug Mantle had climbed the peak the previous week (7 time I think!)
On the way back we chose the shorter, steeper route down the wash to the main canyon and were back at the vehicles by 4:30, and camping at a large flat area about half way between the road head and the Bradshaw Trail by 5:00.
The wind was picking up and the temperature was dropping, so the five of us crowded into the back of the Perkins’ camper for a happy hour and dinner of chili, slaw, and Anne’s famous zucchini bread. We enjoyed ourselves telling climbing stories and planning trips — you don’t need a large number to have a DPS party!
The next morning we had an earlier start on Chuckwalla, beginning the climb at about 8:00. Again, we blazed our own trail on the way up — a ridge a little to the left of the standard route up the canyon, but it went well. There was a fairly steep and rocky ridge to negotiate near the top, but it presented no real problems. About half way up, we were treated to the sight of a jet plane zooming along below us. It gives you quite a thrill to know that you have climbed higher than some planes are flying! The clouds were beginning to gather when we reached the summit, so we didn’t linger too long — but we did again note Doug’s name in the register from the week before. We descended by the route as described in the guide, which was fairly steep for the first several hundred feet, and we agreed that the way we had come up was perfectly fine.
Reaching the cars at about 2:00, we drove out to the freeway and said our good-byes. This was a fine weekend enjoyed by the over 60 age group — we challenge all you young people to join in and keep up with us!
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