Leaders: Joe Young, Patty Kline
During the week prior to our scheduled outing, the first snow of the season reached southern California, but the weather cleared up just in time for us. Eight hikers convened at the intersection of the Red Rock/Randsburg Rd and Highway 14, north of Mojave, at 6:30 a.m., and caravanned to the beginning of the Mesquite Canyon Rd. We consolidated there for the drive over generally good roads to the traditional road head for Black No. 6. The last 3/4 mile to the top of the plateau is a rocky but passable road.
The hike to Black was nominal and uneventful, except that the summit was not windy! It should be noted, however, that the driving route directions call for a left turn at a point on the Mesquite Canyon Rd; in fact one should take the right fork.
Upon return to the Red Rock/Randsburg Rd, we caravanned over towards Red Mtn. Peter Doggett had suggested that we try a route from the north of Red which he had taken earlier. There is a dirt road shown on the topo leading easterly towards a saddle north of the peak. This road is passable for the first 1.2 mile, then becomes very poor. While it can be driven past that point, I would not advise it. We began our hike at this point 1.2 miles from Hwy 395, and hiked a steep ridge to a flat area north of the peak, then proceeded south over one false summit to the peak. Time from the vehicles was about 90 minutes.
After the hike six of us checked into the Motel Six in Ridgecrest and enjoyed dinner together at the Two Sisters Restaurant in Inyokern. One of the sisters (she's said to be 89 years old) entertained by playing organ/piano for us. She does take requests, but she greatly prefers show tunes.
Sunday morning the six of us drove to Walker Pass and began our hike along the Pacific Crest Trail at 6:45 a.m. The temperature was 32F. Apparently a brief storm had passed through the area Saturday night. There was snow on the ground at Walker Pass, and in places, especially on the north slopes of Jenkins, the snow was quite deep. We hiked the PCT for 8.5 miles to Owens saddle, arriving there at 11:00. The temperature now was in the low 40's. After a brief rest, we followed trail markers up a slope heading north to a saddle. Normally, I stick to a ridge top when route finding; however, the ridge top was too rocky with cliffs, so we stayed below and to the south of the ridge top, unhappily encountering brush much of the way. We eventually reached another saddle on the ridge, and stayed just below the ridge top but above the boulder field located just west of the traditional trail to Owens. We soon reached the trail just below the summit, and arrived at the summit at about 1:15 p.m. We stayed briefly just below the summit.
Heading back we stayed on the trail a little longer, dropping to the same elevation as the boulder field. We then proceeded over to the boulder field, crossed it, and soon rejoined our original route at the saddle. Soon we were back at Owens saddle, and began our 8.5 mile return on the PCT. Darkness descended shortly after we passed the Jim Jenkins Memorial Plaque. We arrived at Walker Pass between 6:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. This had been a long, tiring, but successful day.
Thanks to Patty for assisting, and to Peter Doggett for suggesting the pathfinder route on Red Mtn.