Big Maria Mountains, Palen Mountains

10 Dec-94 (Private trip)

By: Patty Kline


This is a trip I have put in the Schedule 3 times, but after 3 times of being canceled, it finally went as a private trip. I met my friends Bill Lawrence, Dave Welbourn, John Gibba and Dinesh Desai about 17 miles from Blythe at 7:30 am on a beautiful windless clear Saturday morning. The 5 of us had all taken our own vehicles to the spot, and it was decided to leave my Pathfinder because of a new paint job acquired due to an accident on the San Diego Freeway. The paint takes 3 weeks to dry. My vehicle, whom I call Amanda, will probably never forgive me. I got her four new stereo speakers for Christmas as a peace offering. After attempting the Palen roadhead and wasting about 1 hour driving on some bad roads (turning to impassable) located on the south of the major wash towards the correct roadhead, we decided to drive to the north of the wash. The north side is the wrong way, so that is why we ended about 2 miles from where we should have started hiking. We left at 9:30 am. Dinesh discovered he had failed to lock his Ford Explorer after just leaving the cars, but figured it would be safe out here. We arrived at the "real roadhead" about 10:45 am, hiking on roadless undulated desert terrain with intermittent gullies to cross. We took Route B in the Peak Guide. With the added mileage from not being able to park at the roadhead it was 9 miles round trip and 3000 feet of gain. It was a very nice climb with relatively little loose rock. The peak has a pink hue to it, which made it very attractive to look at. There was one barely 3rd class water fall we ascended on the way up.

John, Dave and I had a leisurely lunch on the 3848 foot top and left around 2:30 pm. Dinesh and Bill went ahead of us, leaving at 2:00 and getting back to the cars first at about 5:00 pm. Dinesh, who has climbed about 55 of the 59 county high points, searched in his back pants pocket for his car key and it was gone, along with his wallet. He did not have a spare key. I found Dinesh's wallet by sheer luck on the 3rd class water fall. Dave had taken a different route. Anyway, Dinesh had written off his wallet completely, and knew he could get another key from his wife at home in Indian Wells, near Palm Springs. Dinesh was very glad to see me with his wallet that evening. All 5 of us had dinner in a Mexican Restaurant in Blythe. We took Dinesh to the Easy 8 Motel in Blythe, which is much better than the Super 8. The California Highway Patrol told John Gibba there were a lot of things stolen from around the Super 8, and the Easy 8 was safer. John had enjoyed the Easy 8 on Friday night for less money and used their Jacuzzi.. Now it was Dinesh's turn.

While the 4 of us did Big Maria on Sunday, Dinesh's wife drove out with the extra key. We did Big Maria on Sunday by the usual route in 4.5 miles round trip with 2300 feet of gain. Much of the route was class 2, not class 1, as the Peak Guide says. Just when we got to the ridge leading to the peak, we ran into Rheta Schoneman and Vit, who started a little ahead of us. Once you get to the ridge there is relatively little gain. Most of the gain is in the north south trending canyon leading to the ridge. We had a leisurely lunch on top with a view of a lot of our listed peaks. We took a variation of the original route on the way down. We ended up cutting off some distance by leaving the ridge before getting to the canyon. We intersected the canyon below where we would have if we had followed the ridge all the way to the junction of the canyon for the original route.

I had a great time on this trip, as did everyone else. So ended another beautiful weekend in the desert.

Detailed information for visiting one or more peaks mentioned in this article can be found in the
Desert Peak Section Road and Peak Guides

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