Hayford Peak, Mount Stirling
By: Steve Smith
With great weather and excellent visibility, climbing these two desert peaks was delightful. However, some attendant occurrences did make the trip more interesting than usual. Caravaning through the Desert National Wildlife Range on Saturday, we reached the road barricade in Deadman Canyon to start the climb. It was five miles up the road to Hidden Forest Cabin and then another 2,000' up to the summit where we discovered a recently installed solar powered radio system. More and more peaks are picking up radio repeaters including Glass Mtn. and Keynot Peak. Apparently with the greater use of helicopters, mountain top desert radio repeaters area now easy to install and maintain. Back to the oars at dusk, we had one car that would not start and in true DPS fashion everyone admitted they knew nothing about auto mechanics. I can still vividly remember Cuno lifting up the car hood in darkness, say several times "I'm no mechanic, don't look at Me", quickly wire one rod to another, and we were all off for Stirling. Except for the co-leader who decided to stay in order to retrace his route to retrieve an altimeter - which he recovered the next day.
Going in about one mile towards Mt. Stirling from highway 95, we had a good campsite. The traditional access road had gotten too rough for our group vehicles, so we used a different route and climbed the peak from the southeast. It added some distance but the ridgeline news were great plus we discovered a second panel of petroglyphs in addition to the panel just off the summit. With great air quality, the views were impressive, including good detail clear to the Sierra Nevada range.
While the dirt road driving requires some effort on these two peaks, their distinctive features and great views make for interesting climbing. All 14. starters on Saturday and. all 12 on Sunday made it to the summit. One interesting observation on Sunday was recent evidence of cattle grazing high on Mt. Stirling. Not only did there seem to be limited forage but there appears to be no water in the area for cattle to use.
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