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Gimpilator
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PostThu Jan 14, 2016 3:45 pm 
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Overview Map
Overview Map

12/18 – Mount Pinos (P4k) and Sawmill Mountain

Our first hike was short and easy since this was mostly a driving day.  Sawmill was just an add-on.

Pinos
Pinos
Sawmill
Sawmill

12/19 – Aliso Peak

We've done this hike so many times, I didn't bring my camera.  But if you are ever in the Laguna Beach area, make sure to check it out because the ocean views are stunning.

12/20 – Signal Peak (P3k) and Castle Dome Peak (P2k)

Our first real taste of the desert this winter.  The Kofa Mountains are impressively rugged with numerous cliffs and spires.  It's a cairned route from the north with only 5 feet of class 3 in one spot.  From the summit would could see a lot of awe inspiring sharp peaks and even Castle Dome in the distance, which we hoped to climb that evening.

class 3 step
class 3 step
Castle Dome seen from Signal
Castle Dome seen from Signal
craggy peaks: Squaw and Old Smokey
craggy peaks: Squaw and Old Smokey
strange summit log entry
strange summit log entry

In the afternoon we drove for an hour to get to Castle Dome.  The ghost town museum looked interesting but we didn't have time to check it out and it was closed after we returned.  Has any NWHiker visited the museum before?  The Castle Dome route follows a long wash to the base of the peak and then ascends to a notch between a spire and the main peak on the east side.  From there you ascend a class 3 chute and then work your way through a bunch of ledges to reach the upper ridge crest.  This is one of those peaks which looks like it has no easy way up from afar, so it's fun to work through the upper ledges.

Castle Dome
Castle Dome
the notch
the notch
the chute
the chute
ledges
ledges
Point 3356 "The Blade"
Point 3356 "The Blade"
Castle Dome summit
Castle Dome summit
register box
register box
cholla
cholla

12/21 -  Mount Ajo (P2k)

Located on the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.  For some reason our beta said this hike was 5 miles round-trip.  We packed for a short hike but it ended up being twice as long.  This is another fun route once you get above Bull Pasture.  The summit rocks are like nothing I have ever seen before.  We could see Baboquivari in the distance.

big cholla
big cholla
Bull Pasture
Bull Pasture
summit rocks
summit rocks

12/22 – Miller Peak (P5k)

We had hoped to bag a bunch of ultras and P4k's but it was not meant to be.  Snow storms, icy/muddy/flooded roads and bad conditions in general kept us away from most of the high peaks.  We did however get Miller done.  On the way up we passed an old mine adit which was chock full of dirty clothes, empty food wrappers and empty water jugs.  This peak is very close to Mexico and apparently part of the illegal immigration route.

mine adit
mine adit
trash from illegal immigrants
trash from illegal immigrants

Wind on the summit was brutally cold.  We did not linger.

12/23 – Superstition Benchmark

The route up this peak follows a ridge above Heiroglyph Canyon.  The petroglyphs in the canyon were amazing and we explored those before going for the peak.  It was raining slightly most of the day which made the rocks slippery.  We did a bit of class 3 scrambling to reach the upper ridge crest near the balanced rock.

petroglyphs
petroglyphs
petroglyphs
petroglyphs
petroglyphs
petroglyphs
petroglyphs
petroglyphs
petroglyphs
petroglyphs
petroglyphs
petroglyphs
petroglyphs
petroglyphs
petroglyphs
petroglyphs

Once we got to a certain elevation we were in the fog of the clouds.  This did not help our route finding.  Also, cactus species were very dense and there was not much in the way of a use trail.  Heather got a cholla pod in the foot and I almost sat on a hidden cactus trying to help her extract the cholla.

Oya!  Cholla
Oya!  Cholla
balanced rock route feature
balanced rock route feature
poor visibility
poor visibility

After getting off route briefly in the fog we came to an impassable cliff.  There were two options for scrambling.  The most obvious was class 4+ but Heather found an easier class 3 option further right.  After more route finding and scrambling we came to the summit register.  No expansive views until part way down the route.  Still a very fun peak!

near the summit
near the summit
clearing views
clearing views
balanced rock again
balanced rock again
saguaros grow big in the Superstitions
saguaros grow big in the Superstitions
natives used to grind their grain here
natives used to grind their grain here

12/24 – Turtle Mountain (P2k)

This route has great views of Castle Rock, Umpah and Mopah.  We followed washes to reach the east side of the peak.  Tortoise burrows were numerous in the sandy wash.  On the descent Heather spotted a busted shell which had obviously been picked up and dropped by a bird of prey to crack open the tortoise.

Castle Rock (left)
Castle Rock (left)
Mopah and Umpah
Mopah and Umpah
summit ahead
summit ahead
Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve
tortoise shell
tortoise shell

12/25 - Old Woman Mountain (P2k) and Cadiz Dunes

This is a short hike starting near some old mines.  I blundered right past an object of interest and Heather asked, “Did you not see this complete bighorn sheep skeleton”?  What!  I went back and was amazed to see what she had found.  The skeleton was right below a cliff which made us wonder if the animal had died in a duel.  Heather called it Romeo and we moved on.

mine adit
mine adit
sheep skeleton
sheep skeleton
sheep skeleton
sheep skeleton
second gully
second gully

The final gully below the summit ridge was brushy which made us wonder if a better route exists.  After the peak we visited nearby Cadiz Dunes.  The roads were so sandy we didn't dare stop or slow down.  Thankfully the parking area was solid enough to stop in without bogging down.

summit leap
summit leap
Merry Christmas!
Merry Christmas!
Cadiz Dunes HP
Cadiz Dunes HP

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Gimpilator
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PostThu Jan 14, 2016 3:45 pm 
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12/26 - Granite Mountain (P2k), Mojave Lava Tube, Cinder Cone 3894' peaklet

Granite Mountain has a number of monzogranitic formations reminiscent of Joshua Tree.  It's rugged terrain and it seemed to take forever before we came to the summit plateau.  It was windy and cold again so we didn't linger.  I briefly explored the slightly lower south spire and concluded it was class 4 and turned around.  I have heard there is a register up there as well.

south pinacle
south pinacle

After Granite we drove to the Mojave Cinder Cone Lava Beds.  All of a sudden it looked as though we were in Hawaii or something.  Numerous small calderas were spread amongst the lava fields.  We went down in the lava tube first and then hiked up to the top of the 3894 foot volcano just before sunset.

entering the lava tube
entering the lava tube
Cinder Cone 3894'
Cinder Cone 3894'

12/27 - Avawatz Peak (P3k, north route)

This is a peak I lusted for last winter but never got around to.  The standard east approach road is rumored to be washed out and the alternate north approach is excessively long.  We found that the north approach road was also in very bad shape.  We followed a long canyon south from Sheep Creek Spring.

a dryfall
a dryfall
second spring in the narrows
second spring in the narrows
steep mud
steep mud
not the best exit spot
not the best exit spot

The canyon changed personalities several times, getting narrow and widening back up.  We found another spring in some narrows with a thicket of small trees.  At the head of the canyon I didn't pick the best way and we had to scramble up some steep loose dry mud.  Not fun.  The final ridge to the summit was longer than it appeared.  Some joker left a plastic snake on the benchmark which I strategically used to startle Heather.  She was a good sport about it.

summit snake
summit snake
Avawatz summit
Avawatz summit

12/28 - Pahrump Point

In camp on this morning my car thermometer read 12 degrees.  The best thing about this peak is how it appears from afar, with multi-colored strata.  The route has a lot of boulders to navigate in the wash and then steep scree slopes to reach the summit ridge.  You can find sections of trail along the way if you search for them.  Once on the summit ridge it is narrow and pleasant, but only for a short distance.

sunset colors over Pahrump Point
sunset colors over Pahrump Point
nice strata
nice strata
final ridge
final ridge
Pahrump Point summit
Pahrump Point summit
The Nopahs to the south
The Nopahs to the south
ravens circled us
ravens circled us
Pahrump Point (furthest right)
Pahrump Point (furthest right)

12/29 – Pinto Peak (P2k) and Nelson Range HP

I tried to connect with fellow peakbagger Craig Barlow who was also in the area, but phone reception in the greater Death Valley area failed us both and we missed him at Towne Pass by 40 minutes.  We did speak with him and his hiking partner briefly mid-route as he was descending.  Overall, this was another bitter cold day with penetrating winds and fresh snow on the ground.

Towne accross the way
Towne accross the way

We drove over to the Nelson Range above Saline Valley and I was surprised to see so many Joshua Tree in the area.  Actually there was more here than in Joshua Tree National Park.  We made a quick hike up the peak but missed seeing the abandoned cabin since I drove up the wrong approach road.

false summit of Nelson
false summit of Nelson
1968 register
1968 register
alpenglow on Nelson
alpenglow on Nelson

12/30 - Panamint Butte

Another peak with an stunning west face appearance but somewhat crumbly loose rock to contend with.  Starting below the west face we entered the canyon and followed along until it made a turn to the left.  Then we ascended a side canyon to reach the top of a ridge.  The ridge narrowed much more than we expected and the rock was very crumbly.  Recent rains had washed away most if not all signs of any use trail.

entering the canyon
entering the canyon
Darth Vader Couloir entry
Darth Vader Couloir entry

We reached the summit very late in the afternoon, but we still made the trip over to the south summit which is well worth the superior view of the valley.  On the way down we skipped the narrow rotten ridge section by dropping down the left side into what one summit log entry had named “Darth Vader Couloir”.  It was rotten and loose but not exposed and we were able to boot ski down making fast progress.

Panamint Valley below
Panamint Valley below
looking back down the narrow loose ridge
looking back down the narrow loose ridge
below Darth Vader Couloir
below Darth Vader Couloir

12/31 - Canyon Point and Marble Canyon

The drive up Cottonwood Canyon is very scenic and worth it even if you aren't peakbagging.  But we were peakbagging, and this was to be our last peak of 2015.  On this hike Heather completed her goal of hiking 4000 miles in 2015.  She was so happy and I was catching her vibe as well.  Descending from the summit back to the approach canyon only took a couple minutes because of the loose sandy slopes.  On the drive out we stopped to explore a cave.

the crux of Canyon Point is the very start
the crux of Canyon Point is the very start
Canyon Point summit boulder, 4000 miles!
Canyon Point summit boulder, 4000 miles!
Cottonwood Spring
Cottonwood Spring
cave
cave

Afterward we decided to explore Marble Canyon since there was an hour of daylight left.  This  turned out to be an excellent choice.  What an amazing place!

goofball ::)
goofball smile.gif

1/1 – Shadow Mountain

First hike of 2016!  This peak was high on our itinerary since we had seen it from Eagle Mountain right next door exactly one year ago on New Years Day 2015.  Now we were back in the same area, but this time for a more obscure objective.  There is no beta for this peak anywhere online.  I even asked Bob Burd about it and he hasn't done it and that guy has done everything in the desert.  They call his trip report database “the Bible of the desert”.

We approached from the east in Nevada and hiked across the state line.  We discovered an old trail on the ridge but it ended at a couple of small prospects.  We followed the ridge up to the summit and the register revealed that we were the 17th ascent since 1978.  It was a good time for reflection on the previous year and the year to come.  I'm so grateful to have Heather in my life to share these experiences with.

Shadow in first light
Shadow in first light
we were up there exactly one year ago
we were up there exactly one year ago
1978 register
1978 register
this coat
this coat
matches this ore
matches this ore

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http://www.peakbagger.com/climber/ClimbListC.aspx?cid=2650&sort=elevft&u=ft&j=-1&y=9999

Keep climbing mountains and don't slip!
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Gimpilator
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PostThu Jan 14, 2016 3:46 pm 
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1/2 – Grapevine Peak (P4k) and Wahguyhe Peak

We drove over to the east side of the Grapevines and got lost on the dirt approach roads (my fault).  There was a small group of wild asses staring at us like WTF are you doing here and we stared back at them like WTF are you doing here.  Heather figured out where we were and found an old connector road to put us back on track.  The correct road was in much better shape.

Grapevine register
Grapevine register

I joked that by the time we got to camp it would be 12 degrees again.  Unfortunately my joke became a reality.  Thank goodness for nice warm gear.  We hiked up Grapevine from the saddle.  Right above the saddle is a nice deposit of geodes.  Pinion pines covered much of the route and it didn't feel like the desert anymore.

Wahguyhe
Wahguyhe
summit rocks
summit rocks
looking down at Palmer from Wahguyhe
looking down at Palmer from Wahguyhe

Back in camp I decided to try a route without any beta on Wahguyhe while Heather rested in the tent.  A lot of sage in the lower canyon made the start tricky, but the east ridge was pleasant.  Unfortunately the register had no pencil so I could not sign it.

1/3 – Mount Palmer


We both complained a bit about this one since the route is higher than the actual peak in several places.  You have to go up and down over a bunch of points to even get near Palmer.  It did get interesting at the end though, navigating through some cliffy areas and tracing along a narrow dolomite ridge.  The view overlooking Redwall Canyon and back towards Wahguyhe are both worth the trip.

Redwall Canyon below
Redwall Canyon below
dolomite ridge
dolomite ridge
navigating through cliffs
navigating through cliffs
Palmer summit
Palmer summit
Palmer register
Palmer register
Wahguyhe
Wahguyhe

1/4 – Mount Stirling

The weather did not cooperate with us on this peak and most of the Nevada peaks for that matter.  We hiked up a snowy road and the snow flakes were falling heavy.  We ascended a ridge off-trail through thick trees and over slippery loose rocks covered in enough snow to hide obstacles but not enough to help cover them up.

snowing hard
snowing hard
slippery rocks
slippery rocks

On the final ridge crest we scoured rock outcroppings for petroglyphs.  Several reports had mentioned them but none said exactly where they were located.  Unfortunately the snow was covering all the rocks and we didn't find them.  On the summit I was a bit bummed out to be missing the views and the petroglyphs.

Stirling register
Stirling register
petroglyphs
petroglyphs

I turned on my GPS to find the spot that I thought they were located.  We backtracked and started wiping the snow off rock piles.  After 20 minuted of searching and clearing away snow, we found them!  It was just one rock, but very exciting to find underneath the snow.

1/5 - Northshore Peak, Redrocks and Black Mesa

Northshore Peak was not a planned part of our itinerary.  We just decided to check out the Lake Meade area before heading to Salt Lake City for Heather's business trip.  When we came to the parking area we were in white-out fog.

bright cactus
bright cactus
fossils
fossils

We didn't have any paper maps, but I felt confident that I could navigate with my phone map and a compass, so we set off to search for the northeast ridge.  We found it without much trouble.  It consisted of what looked like limestone with petrified sea creatures included.  The supposed class 3 step was merely 2+.  In the summit register I became excited when I randomly flipped it open and saw my buddy Matt Below's signature.  I texted him a picture of it.

fog
fog
Matt Below entry
Matt Below entry
momentary summit view
momentary summit view
more fog
more fog

Since the Northshore hike was short we drove over to the Redrocks area and had a blast scrambling around on the sandstone piles.  I went to the top of several of them, unable to shake the summit instinct.  We even found some small caves and tunnels to explore.  With one hour left of daylight I convinced Heather to join me for Black Mesa.  It was raining a little, but we managed to find a short cut to the summit and back before dark set in.

red rocks
red rocks
tunnel
tunnel
Black Mesa approach wash
Black Mesa approach wash
Lake Meade seen from Black Mesa summit
Lake Meade seen from Black Mesa summit

1/6 – Hamblin Mountain, Pinto Valley and Northshore south peak

We decided on this hike to move to Las Vegas in future winters, possibly as soon as next year.  It's not that we like Las Vegas culture, but the city is centrally located between Death Valley, the High Sierra, and canyon country.  Everything we love about the desert is within manageable driving distance.


To get to Hamblin, we followed a scenic wash into progressively more and more lovely terrain.  Multi-colored palettes of mud and rock offered an infinite assortment of formations.  10 feet of class 3 brought us to the summit register.  The view of Lake Meade below was amazing.  We could see the Muddy Mountains to the northwest and red rocks of the Black Mountains to the east.  What an incredible land!

mysterious white peak
mysterious white peak
Lake Meade below
Lake Meade below

Some fellow hikers had recommended searching for the petroglyphs down in Pinto Valley, so we did that after the peak.  Pinto valley had even more stunning colors and formations, however we did not find the petroglyphs this time.  Despite that the landscape was too lovely to be dissapointed.  It appeared that a storm was moving in so we decided to head back to the car and get out of the long washes.

Hamblin summit
Hamblin summit
Hamblin register
Hamblin register

About 2 miles from the car I was seized by summit fever and all the excitement of the area which had been building in me boiled over.  Despite the coming storm I told Heather I thought we had time for one last peak.  The white one to the northeast.  It looked prominent.  I didn't know what it was since we didn't have a map and my phone was dead.  She told me she thought that was a dumb idea.  I agreed with her but I thought we could get it before the storm set in and we ought to try since the peak appeared to be so close.

nearing Pinto Valley area
nearing Pinto Valley area
entering Pinto valley area
entering Pinto valley area

I told Heather to follow her instincts and if it didn't feel right, head back to the car and I would meet her there.  She said she would not leave me.  So we started up the peak.  It was further away than it looked and it started raining.  I kept going and she followed.  We had to scramble up more dolomite rock similar to what we had seen on Northshore Peak.

The light was starting to dim and we came to a false summit.  I could see a saddle between us and the peak and it looked like we could bail down from there to the road instead of backtracking the long distance we had come through several washes.  The wind was blowing strong now and it was almost dark.  Heather hadn't brought her headlamp since we had only planned for Hamblin Mountain, but I had mine.  I told her my plan for continuing and she said “that's the stupidest thing I've ever heard”.  I knew she was right, but summit fever had me in it's grips.

We proceeded along the ridge and it narrowed with exposure.  Then we were stopped by cliffs.  That's it!  I give.  Time to turn around.  We tried to drop directly from that point down to the wash and were stopped by more cliffs.  Then we climbed back up several hundred feet to the ridge crest and carefully retraced our steps.  It was dark now and I could not find the exact place where we had scrambled up.

I realized that I had put us both in a dangerous situation and regretted doing so.  I vowed to myself not to make such decisions again and never climb peaks without some kind of map.  Then I apologized to Heather for not listening to her and getting us in this mess.  Eventually I was able to find a safe spot for us to scramble down into the wash and then we hiked back to the car by the light of my headlamp, detouring occasionally to avoid catsclaw bushes.  Thankfully the rain had died back some and the washes were still dry.

But not long after we got to camp that night the heavens opened up and it rained very heavy for several hours straight.  I could hear waterfalls all around us in the dark.  The desert is a place where typically everything is dry, but tonight it was an angry torrent with water rushing everywhere.  I noticed that my car was sinking in mud on the dirt road and had to move it before it was too late.

1/7 - Little Virgin, Parowan Gap

The next morning we went to Valley of Fire State Park, but the main access road was closed because of the overnight flood.  Everywhere we went small washes had covered roads in mud.  We did explore some petroglyphs before moving on to Little Virgin Peak.

Little Virgin
Little Virgin
Little Virgin register
Little Virgin register

Little Virgin was a very short hike that we chose since Mormon and Moapa (original objectives for the area) were covered in a lot of fresh snow.  We had to hurry up and down Little Virgin because the bad weather was not over and a big thundershower was across the valley, coming our way.

impending storm
impending storm

That evening we drove to Parowan Gap just before dark where we saw petrified dinosaur tracks and more petroglyphs.  The tracks were inverted like a plaster cast.  This was the end of our play time after which we went on to Salt Lake City for business and then home.

dinosaur track
dinosaur track
dinosaur track
dinosaur track
petroglyphs
petroglyphs
petroglyphs
petroglyphs
petroglyphs
petroglyphs
petroglyphs
petroglyphs
petroglyphs
petroglyphs

After-the-fact research has revealed that the white peak we were going for the previous day was actually Northshore Peak.  So in essence I potentially risked our lives in the face of a coming storm to bag a peak we had already climbed.  Stupid...  I'm just thankful that the storm didn't start dumping in earnest until we were safe in camp.

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http://www.peakbagger.com/climber/ClimbListC.aspx?cid=2650&sort=elevft&u=ft&j=-1&y=9999

Keep climbing mountains and don't slip!
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Anish
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PostThu Jan 14, 2016 4:32 pm 
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I <3 you even if you do try to climb the same mountain twice wink.gif

Thanks for such a great recap of a great 3 weeks!

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"Our way is not soft grass. It's a mountain path with lots of rocks. But it goes upwards, forward, toward the sun." -Ruth Westheimer
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Brushbuffalo
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Location: there earlier, here now, somewhere later... Bellingham in between
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PostThu Jan 14, 2016 8:52 pm 
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Gimpilator wrote:
The summit rocks are like nothing I have ever seen before.   confused.gif


summit rocks
summit rocks

Adam, those rocks appear to be volcanic breccia.(side note: the array of photoelectric cells is much larger than what I've seen for repeaters in the NC....interesting, considering all the sunlight down there.....must be quite different equipment being powered).

Heather, congrats. on 4k in '15!  Plus lots of summits. up.gif

I like the precarious boulder pix!  Rocks such as these can be used as indicators from the time of a previous earthquake of a specific intensity in an area ( involved theory).

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Passing rocks and trees like they were standing still
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puzzlr
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puzzlr
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PostFri Jan 15, 2016 12:23 am 
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Looks like you're having a lot of fun together. Great looking mountains, they remind me just a little of Superstitions.

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Mid Fork Rocksflickr
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contour5
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PostFri Jan 15, 2016 12:31 am 
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That is quite an extravaganza!

The weather looks pretty nice from here.

The dunes, the bones, the petroglyphs, and coprolites too! I'm missing the desert...thanks for the post.
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tmatlack
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PostFri Jan 15, 2016 3:58 am 
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Thanks for the tour.  Christmas weather in Tucson was cold nights, cool days(for AZ) but lots of 'shine and blue skies...and yes, we had cholla buttons on our shoes too.  biggrin.gif  biggrin.gif

Tom
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John Morrow
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PostFri Jan 15, 2016 6:53 am 
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Holy moly, wow, wow, WOW!
Fantastic effort you two.  Did your Subaru get you to all those respective THs?
Maybe we should meet down there sometime for Mopah and Umpah now that they beckoned you.  Somehow I missed seeing Matt Below in that register.  Or maybe I wasn't on that summit???
Gimpilator wrote:
We decided on this hike to move to Las Vegas in future winters, possibly as soon as next year.  It's not that we like Las Vegas culture, but the city is centrally located between Death Valley, the High Sierra, and canyon country.  Everything we love about the desert is within manageable driving distance.

Isn't that the strange truth.  Worth consideration for sure.
Thanks for the awesome TR.
John

--------------
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”-Mary Oliver

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.”
― MLK Jr.
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Distel32
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PostFri Jan 15, 2016 7:38 am 
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Busy trip  up.gif
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neek
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PostFri Jan 15, 2016 8:14 am 
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Fascinating report! Bookmarked for future reference. I was in the Mojave Desert on 1/6 and yeah wow, that rain - very welcome down there of course.
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Sir-Hikes-A-Lot
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PostFri Jan 15, 2016 10:32 am 
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Wonderful stuff - what a great trip!  up.gif

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"...I'm out" -- Snowbrushy   I had a unique fondness for Snowbrushy and his posts, and he will be missed on this site.  In spirit, I'll be taking him on the rest of my hikes this year...RIP, fellow NWHiker...
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Fletcher
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Joined: 29 Jul 2009
Posts: 1389 | TRs
Location: kirkland
Fletcher
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PostFri Jan 15, 2016 6:44 pm 
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I need to be honest, this report is a little long-winded for my attention span at the moment... But I read bits and pieces and your pictures are awesome! Seriously, some great images in there. So jealous, although the powder turns at home have been pretty damn good lately  wink.gif
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Jaberwock
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Joined: 30 Jan 2013
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Location: Bellingham
Jaberwock
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PostFri Jan 15, 2016 6:47 pm 
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Excellent!  Thanks!  smile.gif
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Magellan
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Joined: 26 Jul 2006
Posts: 13108 | TRs
Location: Inexorable descent
Magellan
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PostFri Jan 15, 2016 6:52 pm 
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Worn out just reading it. Thanks for the photos, and I'm glad you didn't do a repeat.  wink.gif
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Forum Index > Trip Reports > 21 Days - Desert Peakbagging Extravaganza - Winter 2015/2016
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