Mitchell Point, Granite Mountains #1
By: Jim Schoedler
This was the first DPS trip for participant Mark Webster who wrote the following description. I'm sure you'll appreciate his newcomer's insights. He assures me he had a good time.
The purpose of this trip was to climb Mitchell Peak in the Providence Mountains and Granite in the Granite Mountains and to enjoy the desert. I rode with Jim for the trip. We got out to the East Mojave Scenic Area about 11pm and looked for a place to camp. From the road that goes up to Hole-in-the-Wall campground I spotted a likely spot and we pulled in. Luckily, the rest of our group had also found the same. spot. The group turned out to be Jim and I and Greg and his wife Mirna so our full complement was to be four. Everyone else had cancelled (wimps!).
We got up at 6:30 (yow!) and fortified ourselves with caffeine, roughage and calories and then headed for the "trailhead" to climb Mitchell Peak. I put the word in quotes because there is no trail; it's all cross-country. We parked the vehicles at an old mine near the Blair brothers' ranch and Mitchell Caverns. After much checking of topos and compasses, we set off with daypacks. Our route was up to the east ridge and then along that to the peak. Cross-country in the desert is a hazardous proposition - lots of cholla, cat-claw, yucca spears and myriad other pointy objects. This route was also very steep - 2800' in 2 miles, but was only a high class 2 for you mountain climbing types. The rock that we climbed on was very rough on hands that are reaching for holds. I don't know what kind of rock it was but Jim found some fossils so I would assume that it was sedimentary that was pushed up. Some high (or low) lights of the trip were: clinging to a knife-edge ridge while looking over the edge of a shear 500' drop with a 70 degree slope behind me that went down about 300', getting poked by agave plants a dozen times and putting my hand on a cactus hiding behind me on the rock Picked out spines for half an hour. It was a nice accomplishment to reach the top (7200'). Curiously, the whole top of the peak was covered with ladybugs. They almost formed a living carpet They climbed in our shirts and our packs and were slightly annoying. I tried not to kill any as my wife tells me they bring good luck. The way down was almost as gruesome as the way up. I had underestimated the amount of water I would need but the other members of the party had brought extra. When I got back to the car I managed to finish a liter and a half in about 30 minutes. The hike took a total of eight hours.
We finally made it down and decided to go over Foshay pass through the Providence mountains towards the Granites and our second peak of the weekend. The road through the pass follows a natural gas pipeline and is straight as an arrow. It doesn't take any natural features into account and can get quite steep in places. Four-wheel-drive was definitely required. We camped in the pass near the old Vulcan mine (iron was mined here up to the Korean War) and enjoyed a small but nice happy hour.
The next morning (this time at 6am. Ugh!) we packed and drove to Cottonwood Basin to start our next hike. Much easier. It sounds pretty bad - 2300' in 1.5 miles - but the terrain was easier, the rock (granite) easier to climb on. We found a nice short class 4 chimney to climb in just for fun on the way up. The top was again infested with ladybugs although fewer than Mitchell. The peak register had more signatures that Mitchell. Going down was a piece of cake. We went down through the canyon and found running water. There is nothing sweeter than the sound of a small waterfall in the middle of the desert. We found lots of good scree for scree skiing back down. Also found a fairly complete burro skeleton, bones bleached bright white and a classic cow skull complete with horns. The hike took about 4 hours. Then the long drive home which, even though it was Sunday night, wasn't too bad.
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