Clark Mountains, Kingston Peak

16-May-96 (Private Trip)

By: Ron Bartell


For something different Christine Mitchell and I decided to do Clark and Kingston by what were new, undocumented routes to us, and for added excitement we would do them alone in our recently repaired Cherokee. Maris Valkass loaned us his Clark and Kingston 15' topos and we were off.

For Clark, we followed the Peak Guide directions to Pachalka Spring (the AAA San Bernardino map also works), and continued on toward the petroglyphs described in the guide. From a rise in the road we could see an obvious road heading up a wash toward Clark (the wash shown with a stream on the topo), and we drove up that road to a point 6.0 miles from the pavement, where some bushes closed in on the road. As we walked east up the road we discovered that the road continued about another 1/3 mile. The wash narrowed and there was some easy Class 3 scrambling around dry-falls and chockstones. We passed the 25' sheer dry-fall on the north side - the easiest return to the wash is to go over one of several shallow notches about 75' up. About 10 minutes after regaining the wash there is a 15' juniper growing right in the middle of the wash, and the wash splits just a few feet beyond the tree. We left the wash and climbed the slope between the forks straight up toward the summit, coming out about 100 yards south of the summit on the south ridge. The wreck of a small plane came into view to the north after climbing a couple of hundred feet up the slope.

For Kingston, we returned to the pavement and drove north on the Excelsior Mine road, going 8.7 miles past the Kingston Road turn-off, to a dirt road going southwest that is shown on the AAA Map and the Kingston 15' topo. From here, the landmarks are: 0.1 mi Take left fork (right fork blocked by Wilderness sign),0.6 mi Go left at fork, 2.3 miles. Pass through fence, 4.3 miles. Little "Survey Marker" sign beside road, 6.7 miles. Enter large wash, turn right down wash 8.7 miles.

Side road to north marked by 2 large cairns behind a Joshua Tree that looks like a "Y". It took us half an hour of driving back and forth to find this side road. Pay close attention to the topo and you'll find it. We drove 3.7 miles north up this road, to a fork, where a short steep descent on the right fork leads to nice flat camping, but I thought we might have trouble getting back up this hill, so we camped in the road with great views to the south over Kingston Wash. The next morning we descended the right fork of the road, crawled under a sturdy fence, and ascended the wash shown on the topo. A little over half an hour from the fence the wash entered narrows that were blocked by two deep pools and impassable walls. We backtracked and climbed around on the west side, but ended up high enough that we decided to keep on going up to the main southeast ridge of Kingston instead of dropping back down to the wash, which looked like it might have more narrows upstream. We followed the southeast ridge over several bumps, with a little bushwhacking near the top, all the way to the summit.

Both roadheads felt very remote - we didn't meet another person or vehicle from the time we left I-15 Friday night until we were near Tecopa on Sunday night. Back in LA on Tuesday the clutch failed completely on the Cherokee, adding a final touch of excitement to the weekend. Canyon Point 24-Mar-96 Patty Kline

On Saturday March 23rd our group of 7 met at the turn off for Panamint Butte at the intersection of State Highway 190 and the Four Mine Road. I have made many plans to climb this somewhat recent addition to the list, but never left Los Angeles to do it. There was a dry weather front this weekend. At the 2.600 foot level it was so windy that Ron Young was blown into me as he stood up. All of us had trouble walking so we canceled it. Rats! 2 people went on to do the peak after signing out, Gary Craig and Randy Ragland.

We then drove to Stove Pipe Wells to the pay private campground and spent the day snacking on the evenings happy hour munchies and drinking beer. The wind was so strong there were clouds of dust blowing through the campground. The night before when the wind storm was at it's height you couldn't even see across the parking lot. The clerk at the store said there were gusts to 90 MPH, but I think she estimated too high.

After dinner Bob Michael from Santa Barbara and George Quinn from Las Vegas joined us. Bob and George are old climbing buddies who met at the same company working as geologists.

Sunday morning we left about 7:15 am for Canyon Point. This is a 10 1/2 mile dirt road in Marble Canyon with a lot of sand. Ron Young was the only one with 4 wheel drive so I asked Bob Michael to drive my 2 wheel drive Pathfinder I call Amanda. I am not the seasoned 4x4 driver that Bob is, and thought it would be best to have him drive. There were 7 of us today because Randy Ragland left for town on Saturday after climbing Panamint Butte with Gary Craig. John Cheslick also left on Saturday, but Gary stayed with us on Sunday for Canyon Point, the easy peak that is. Gary has established his reputation as a super hiker by doing Big Picacho as a day hike on April 28th with Ron Hudson and John McCully.

As we drove up Marble Canyon the walls became very high towering over a very narrow canyon floor. In one place a flock of cliff sparrows were flying around the walls above us. At 9 miles we couldn't go any farther because the road became impassable for 4x4. We walked the extra 1 ¼. What was amazing was a Pathfinder (obviously 4x4) had gotten in all the way. It looked like they were camping for a few days. With the added mileage the 5 mile hike became an 8 mile hike with still the same approximate gain of 3100 feet. It took us 5 ¾ hours, including 55 minutes for lunch on top at 5390 feet.

The views were great. We had a remembrance at lunch for Theresia Glover, who was supposed to assist me on this hike. She died suddenly on January 28th, much to my shock and grief. She was a good friend of mine and will be missed by many people. Theresia was mainly known for her HPS leads and activity. She was just getting starting on the DPS list. Ron Young agreed soon after her death to lead the weekend with me.

The 1000 foot sand run coming down from Canyon Point is a lot of fun. We got back to our 2 vehicles for snacks and beer or soft drinks before starting our drive back on the sandy road to Stove Pipe Wells. My congratulation or due to Bob Michael who never once got stuck driving Amanda (my vehicle).

Everyone had a great time. The participants were Harriet Edwards, Betsy Horgan, Randy Ragland, John Cheslick, George Quinn and Bob Michael. Bob Michael now only has 3 peaks to go for list finish!

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