Granite Mountains #1
By: John Vitz
A surprisingly small turn out of five cars met at the appointed hour in Essex for the start of a caravan over "questionable" dirt roads (according to the schedule) to the east of Peak 6612 in the Providence Range. "Unquestionable" would have been a better term. After a below average number of U turns for missed roads we started at the peak. A short distance along the steadily deteriorating road Harry Melts decided that since he had already climbed the peak he would forego the trip. Next we left two American cars and doubled up. I asked Jim Sinnett to take two passengers and he said that he would be alright. (in his Opel station wagon) as long as the road didn't get much worse.
It not only got worse - it went away altogether. The entire roadway was washed out so we followed tracks in the sage brush crossing the road (?) numerous times. We were doing alright in our 4 wheel drive Toyota, but Jim was having troubles in the Opel - the road wasn't wide enough for him to pass and a big red Toyota wouldn't pull over and let him by. At one point the tracks disappeared into a big gravel wash. We figured we could loose him here but with a push from his riders he was back on our trail.
After the drive in, the peak was nothing. We started up a wash from a mine and wandered through fine stands of buckhorn cholla and Spanish daggers and then into a steel gully surrounded by rocky outcroppings and pinyon-juniper forest. The summit area is gentle and affords fine views to the north and east. Each tree was covered with frost which added greatly to the scene. The wind was so strong and cold that the effective temperature must have been fairly low. The descent was made in quick order and included an exciting scree run among the chollas.
We drove back out the same road (much to everyone's disgust) and then to the Cottonwood Springs area northeast of Granite where a fine camp was set up. Our two new-comers were introduced to a DPS tire fire that night. Harry and his party rejoined us for our climb of Granite on Sunday. It was much warmer but also more hazy as we made the ascents of both summits without incident. We arrived back at the car so early that we decided to explore the power line road across the Devil's Playground. After jumping numerous sand dunes and getting stuck once, we returned to Baker arriving about the time that the rest of our party would be getting home.
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