Needle Peak, Manly Peak
By: Maris Valkass
Saturday morning we met at 7:30 am at the ruins of Ashford Mills, southern end of Death Valley. We drove 2.9 miles NW to a graded dirt road coming in from the left. This is the road that goes on the west side of the Valley. Turn here, then after another 3 mi., another road is coming in from the left. Turn here, and drive to the Butte Valley. This road was easily passable to all cars, We elected to do Needle first, so we drove to Willow Springs which are located on this side of the prominent hill. You can park within a few yards of the spring. None of the cars had any problem getting there.
We started hiking south, around the small hill in front of us , blocking the view of Needle. We crossed some medium size gullies until we came to a ridge at approximately right angle to the ridgeline of Needle. We followed it to within a quarter mile of the summit, turned left and reached the top.
The weather was quite windy, particularly at the lower elevation. Gusts could have been up to 50 mi/hr., at one time we had doubts about continuing. Two turned back, but the rest of us made it.
This was going to be a Pancho Villa Fiesta, however, the wind was so bad, that we had to seek shelter. Thank goodness for Ken Whitlock who had a large camper van. We all squeezed in it and had a good time sharing goodies and telling bad jokes. And many of us know John Gibba and his jokes.
Next morning the weather was quite good and the wind had died down. We had a nice climb up Manley with a wonderful view. One person stayed below, the others made it.
This is a very lovely area with the view of the Striped Butte. It is so strange to find it in the middle of the desert floor. There also is an old cabin at the bottom of Manley (can't miss it). It is maintained by the visitors as an unofficial landmark. It is open and you can camp in it, provided it has not been taken by others.
The participants were: Jim Farkas, Luis Brecheen, Marti Washbourne, Ken Whitlock, John Orange, Keats Hayden, Bill Faulkner, Anna Valkass, Gail Hanna, John Gibba, Sherry Harsh, Maris Valkass. My thanks to Sherry for assisting, and her usual good and cheerful company.
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