Teutonia Peak


By: Bob Michael


One of the finest short hikes the desert has to offer takes you up the northeast flank of Cima Dome to almost the granite picacho summit of Teutonia Peak, a crag perched incongruously on this otherwise amazingly gentle, smooth and regular landform.

Cima Dome, although hardly spectacular or even readily noticeable is one of the most extraordinary landforms in the desert. The map shows circular, gentle, evenly spaced contours making a bull's eye pattern in a landscape built basically out of randomness. Although geoniorphologists (geologists who try to explain landforms) have long debated its origins, the most likely explanation seems to be the long undisturbed weathering of a roughly circular, remarkably uniform body of granite uniquely susceptible to subaerial "crumbling". Teutonia Peak and some associated boulder piles, making up a northwest-southeast- striking linear feature on the northeast flank of the Dome, is the only anomaly in this big picture. Perhaps due to a slight variation in rock chemistry in this one zone of the granite body - maybe an increase in silica content - the granite that comprises Teutonia Peak is resistant to crumbling, and instead weathers into the Joshua Tree-style blocks and crags that we commonly associate with desert granitic terrain.

The trail to Teutonia starts at a well-marked parking area near the gentle summit of the paved road between 1-15 and Cima. The excellent trail, at times following a long-abandoned road, heads gently uphill through possibly the most splendid climax Joshua forest of all; the high desert doesn't get any better than this. After 1 1/2 gentle miles ascending the Dome, the trail arrives at the northeast flank of the Peak. The trail switchbacks up the side, crosses the summit ridge to the west side of the peak and heads south towards the high point, where it evaporates among huge slabs and boulders. I managed to get within 20-25 vertical feet of the apparent summit when I was stopped by unquestionable 5th class. It's always a bit frustrating not to get the actual high point, but this is still a delightful and worth while saunter through incomparable desert scenery.

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