Pyramid Peak, Smith Mountain


By: Lou Brecheen


A wispy haze thinly veiled the sunrise over Death Valley Junction. Abandoned stucco buildings with some unbroken windows lined main street (Hwy 127). Marta Becketts sign in the foyer of the Amargosa Opera House proclaimed "Performance Tonight - 8:15". A rambling building housing the Amargosa Hotel embraced the hotel plaza where a few Palo Verde grow. The hotel is now open all year round; the proprietress just recently arrived from the chemical-processing town of Trona, where business is falling off. The hotel features a breakfast room; also serves hamburgers and frys.

Ron Jones, Adrienne Knute and Lou Brecheen convened at the junction of Hwys 127 and 190 at 7:00 A. M. Westward, along #190, we caravaned for 9.7 miles to a point at about 3, 000 feet elevation where a poor dirt road leads North toward PYRAMID PEAK. There we met Westy Fletcher, Lisa McKay, Fred "Campy" Camphausen and Sherry Harsh. After driving approximately one mile up the poor road, we hiked across the gradually inclining desert in the cool air - aiming for the highly visible, very low saddle just East of Pyramid. Just before reaching the low saddle, we swung West up a gentle canyon and then attained the ridge at a convenient spot. From there it was "follow the ridge", with several short "downs" and a couple of false summits. The colors in this area are stunning. In addition to the purples and greens of the rocks, there are both blue and yellow lichens over large areas.

When we reached the summit (3-1/2 Hrs.) there were good views in all directions - the air was cold - and the wind was fierce. Mount Charleston, sporting a heavy white coat, was the most visible peak within eyeshot - sin embargo, we could also see the Funerals, the Inyos and faintly - the High Sierra. On the way down we spotted three decaying Bighorn horns. We had not realized the importance of our trip, but when we arrived back at our cars, there was a reporter and photographer from the Ridgecrest Independent waiting for us-----Rose Certini.

Our party, now having attained considerable status, headed out for the Greenwater Valley Road via Dante's View road. Approximately twenty (20) miles South of Pyramid, we met Walton Kabler, Doug Mantle and John McCarthey at a very narrow place in the road. Since they could not pass, they said they might as well join us for the Sunday climb of Smith Mountain. So, we all caravaned to the intersection of the Gold Valley and Greenwater Valley roads at 3090 BM on the Funeral Peak Quad. There, we spent a typical DPS evening - - - with campfire, wine tasting, poems by Harsh, and the usual sparkling, erudite conversation one ordinarily encounters where suchlike ones gather.

Sunday, we were up at 6 and away at 7:30 (several Vagmarken were with us). We consolidated into fewer cars (Doug left his Cadillac at the campsite) and drove the several. miles over poor but passable road into Gold Valley and parked. SMITH MOUNTAIN lay due West from us and was attained by all at eleven A.M. There was a pleasant hour on top, out of the wind, then back to the cars by 2:00.

There, in the midst of that valley, with distant desert peaks colorfully ranging us, pleasant warm sunshine, a gentle breeze, cold beer; an idyllic situation. A short distance away a pair of ravens floated on the air currents and slowly drifted to and fro, engaged in whatever it is that young ravens thoughts turn to in the Spring. All about us, the ground was blanketed with the annual display of flowers; and Westy turned on his excellent speakers with something by Dvorak. It was with reluctance that we abandoned the spot; bidding farewells, gathering up the empty cans and bottles-------.

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