Silver Mountain, Malpais Mesa, Ophir Mountain


By: Ron Jones


Twenty DPSers met at the Cafe in Olancha on Saturday morning. It is under new management and now serves a good breakfast and a good dinner. Following Elliot Snyder's write-up we caravaned to the Cactus Flat Road leading east and located just south of the Union 76 gas station south of town. At 1.4 miles one reaches the Butterworth Ranch and at about 4.4 a large flat clearing suitable for camping. We left a few cars here and continued on, taking the left fork just beyond the flat area and at 7.1 miles from 395 we took the second dirt road to the left on a wide right turn. After going about 1.5 miles the road ends with only limited parking. We took the canyon up to the ridge passing through a marshy sink enroute. Just beyond we saw a herd of wild horses. From the ridge one sees the summit of Silver Mtn. The total climb is about 2900 feet and 10 miles round trip. Views are very good from the summit and some felt that the peak was worthy of consideration on the list. There was a fair showing now of wildflowers at this elevation (7000') and many more to come. All 20 made the top. Betty Wallin was Assistant.

Later that afternoon we caravaned east on Highway 190 about 10.3 miles east of Olancha junction to the paved and signed Santa Rosa Road. Pavement ends at 5.8 miles north of 190 and we camped at that point. After hors d'oeuvres, beverages, the main course and more beverages we got down to the serious entertainment of the evening. The main event was the Choral movement from Beethoven's 9th symphony which was led with spirit by Barbara Magnuson with accompaniement on the kazoo. DPS guest, Mario Gonzales, sang Cuban folksongs with the help of Bacardi.

Sunday morning we caravaned 5.3 miles up the left fork of the road at the camping site directly to the Santa Rosa mine. There is ample parking. The mine set among colorful, cliffs and rocks is interesting. Many buildings and mine workings are still in good shape. This roadhead is one of the most interesting in the desert. At the mine you hike up a narrow road to the right until it comes to a high point and starts to descend to the upper diggings. Go up the ridge toward the main saddle staying a little left. At the saddle you see the summit and you make a wide arc to the right to reach it. According to the Geodetic Survey the real name of the high point is Rosa Peak. Fourteen persons made the summit in about 1-1/2 hours from the cars. John Wallin served as Assistant Leader on this climb.

Sunday afternoon 6 people visited the almost ghost town of Darwin. There are no shops or stores and the town is nearly deserted. The large Darwin Lead and silver mine is not working. We drove east on the obvious well-graded dirt road leading up the north side of Ophir Mtn to a saddle at about 5500 feet. From here one goes up an easy one mile on the ridge to the summit. Four people made the climb and Barbara Reber celebrated completing the Vagmarken desert peaks list.

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