Black Butte, Chuckwalla Mountains


By: Patty Kline


We met at 8:00 am at the Red Cloud Road exit just off Interstate 10, which is 9.0 miles east of the Chiriaco Summit. This is well beyond Indio. The drive is longer from LA than one might think. Rich Gnagy and I were the leaders on this trip.

There had been trouble with illegal aliens breaking into cars out of desperation for warm clothes and water. A border guard informed us they had been walking all the way from the border with no possessions after "Los Coyotes" (AKA the people that took them over the border) dropped them off. Los Coyotes usually steal all of their possessions. The guard told us he thought one of the illegals had red tennis shoes, but the shoes were entirely soaked from bleeding blisters. These people are returned by the border patrol to Mexico for who knows what kind of treatment.

After a long drive of one hour, give or take 15 minutes, we arrived at the road head for Black Butte. It was recommended by the border patrol not to leave any of the vehicles on the Bradshaw Trail when we turned on to the faint dirt road towards Black Butte. No one decided to drive all the way in for the 4WD version driving route because the road got really bad.

The hike was about 4 miles round trip and 1700 feet of gain. The ascent was all class 1, accept for a little high class 2 over some dry water falls in the middle of the route. It was fairly windy on top of the 4504 foot summit with great views. We split the group on the way down with half of us returning the traditional route and the fast group taking the ridge directly south of the peak. This ridge went well.

Back at our campsite about half way from the turn off from the Bradshaw Trail and the road head we found a large level area on the desert pavement. A nice happy hour was followed by dinner around a campfire with Mirna and .Greg Roach serving a delicious bunch of tacos.

The next morning most of u s drove to the Chuckwalla road head. Newlyweds, Scott and Yvonne Jamison, drive to the road head only before heading back to LA. Yvonne was scheduled for orthoscopic surgery on her knee the next day. She did very well on Black Butte and wanted this last hike before her planned surgery. She will be as good as new by fall.

It was a spring like day on Chuckwalla for the 3 mile round trip and 1500 foot elevation gain on this class 2 peak. On Chuckwalla's 3446 foot top we observed Valentine's Day with candy and Valentine's Day cards for everyone. The fast group beat the slow group back by about one hour and started up another happy hour while waiting for the slow group. Oh to the joys of being-fast. Mirna and Greg sold about 10 T-shirts at this happy hour, which was probably a record for road head sales.

Rich Gnagy did a wonderful job of leading both peaks while I swept. Thank you Rich. Also, I want to thank everyone who came on this trip for making this a great outing on a beautifully warm midwinter weekend in the desert. Those on the trip were, besides the leaders, Andrea Leigh, Jason Lynch, Sara Wyrens, Brian Smith, Diane Dunbar, Maria Freeman, Fred Smith, Scot Jamison, Yvonne Jamison, Al Whittemore. Elaine Baldwin, Dave Baldwin, Pat Wood, Jane Gibbons, Richard Whitcomb, Jan Brahms, David Reneric, Mirna and Greg Roach and Judy Hummerich

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