Stranded In The Southland

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Mt. Inspiration and Ryan Mountain

I'd intended to head out to Joshua Tree National Park Saturday morning on a Dirty Rocksuckers rock climbing expedition. Alas, I was out a little late and drank a bit much, and slept in Saturday morning. Leaving at 10AM for a two hour trip, when I wanted to be back home for a BBQ at 6PM just seemed silly.

So I headed out at around 8:30AM Sunday morning, hoping to hook up with the club. I managed to get to the park shortly after 10AM, but spent nearly an hour and a half searching for the group unsuccessfully.

I even managed to get my Miata sorta stuck in some deep sand -- as I came around a corner, a white car came flying up from the other direction. I dove over to the side of the road, and found to my dismay that I'd picked what was seemingly the only spot on the road with deep sand.

Lucky for me, I managed to get out by just standing on the throttle, letting the wheels spin like crazy and slowly work their way out. Not the way I'd like to do it, but I didn't seem to have much choice. I felt sort of better when I got around the next corner, and found a big ol' four-wheel drive truck mired in similar (well, obviously deeper) sand, having even more trouble than I was. I cut my losses and retreated at that point.

Fortunately, I had a backup plan -- there are several HPS peaks out in Joshua Tree, and I figured I could nail a couple of the easy ones.

Mount Inspiration required a long drive out to Keys View, which is an amazing spot overlooking the Palm Springs, the Coachella Valley (for all I know, the same thing), and the Salton Sea. It was a beautifully clear day -- I could see all the way to Signal Mountain, something like 70 miles away in Mexico.

It was less than a mile from Keys View to Mount Inspiration, but the directions were sort of challenging. I had no trouble following a use trial up to the first false summit, past the next down into a saddle, and then up past a rocky promontory. That's when things got confusing. I wandered on past two more false summits, and wondered where I could find the register.

After eating some lunch, and engaging in some head scratching, I finally decided to go on through another saddle, and up to one more summit. Lucky for me, this was the right one, complete with a register. Woo hoo!

I then headed out to Ryan Mountain. This was considerably easier, since the trail was perfectly maintained and impossible to miss. Of course, it did involve a fairly aggressive 1,100' of gain over a 1.5 mile trail, but I was still happy to be able to just follow my nose, instead of bushwacking through cacti, as I did on Mount Inspiration.

Not surprisingly, I met a fair number of folks on the trial, and when I got to the summit, there was no register to be found. Oh, well, it'd be silly to have a register someplace that is so popular. As before, the view was spectacular.

I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to go rock climbing, but I'm pretty happy to bag a couple more peaks. This is 48 so far, and nearly 23 in the last three months, compared to 25 in the first eight months. Pretty solid!