Granite Mountain (4,331')
When: November 2nd, 2013
Where: Near Blythe, CA
Who: Matthew Hengst, Kristen Lindbergh
GPS Track: [Map]
Last weekend was a bit on the rough side as a quick two day to grab some interesting looking peaks out near Lake Mead ran a little late. The cherry on top was a 5.5 *hour* delay to get through a 13 mile section south of Baker after a bad accident all but shut down the 15 until 3 or 4 in the morning.
So this weekend I decided to stick a little closer to my nebulously defined home and grab something off the dwindling list of Sierra Club Desert Peaks Section peaks I still "needed" (for list finish #1).
With only Kristen in for this weekend we settled on Granite #2 and Palen Mountain as they had relatively tame looking stats and a drive that didn't appear too painful. Granted a slightly later departure, heavier than usual traffic along the 91, and some not insignificant dirt road driving on the far side of the usual drive from OC to Blythe did keep up out a bit on the late side. On the plus side driving until 2 am isn't near as bad as it's been lately.
I'd grabbed the usual excellent driving directions from climber.org and generally I'm pretty good about finding my way down vague spiderwebs of old mining roads in the dark. This time I'll blame being more tired than usual or the fact that the Party Jeep can actually make it rather far up something that isn't really so much a road as a slightly rough wash...
In hindsight we'd taken the wrong wash junction somewhere around GRNRD5. Oops.
We didn't realize that that Friday night / Saturday morning. We ended up stopping well short of the trailhead when it appeared things became impassable.
After a few hours of sleep and with the advantage of daylight we were able to make it a bit further down the not-exactly-a road before reaching a point where things effectively became impassable for anything beyond foot / stock travel.
So we backed off to where we wouldn't be blocking the wash if anyone else followed our tracks (*heh*) and set off walking. All things combined (mostly lack of sleep being to blame) we didn't leave the Jeep until 10 or 11 am. Our headlamp forecast wasn't looking too bad...
We'd added another mile or so each way (see the Granite Park waypoint vs Actual TH) and the terrain was the usual pain in the butt mix of increasingly large crumbling washes.
We angled over to catch the normal DPS route north of Packard Well and swung around north up the canyon east of 765T.
(I was a bit ancy to start climbing and we briefly had to reroute after we turned up a bit early south of point 765T.)
The correct wash wasn't bad. There was a fair amount of boulder scrambling but all easy 2nd class and fairly solid. There was a bit of cats claw here and there but you could almost always avoid it.
The view up top was spectacular if a bit hazy.
The summit register had a good number of friends in it though it appeared we were the first ones up here since Spring.
Seeing as how it was already feeling late we didn't spend too much time up top before heading down.
We made relatively quick progress down the ridge while we still had light but one spectacular desert sunset later things slowed down significantly.
When we eventually hit the desert floor we were both quite happy to be done with the ridge which did get a little steep and loose here and there. We followed the wash south and after a diversion managed to hit the actual DPS trailhead and join up with a depressingly clear looking road. On the plus side it did make for a much more pleasant last mile or so back to our parking spot.
(In the end we had a short diversion of maybe 200 ft to go from the road to the wash we'd parked in. Doh.)
The initial plan had been to relocate to the relatively nearby Palen Mountain trailhead that we'd be hiking from Sunday but after some consideration (not the least of which involved the fact it was dark we'd ended up in the wrong wash the night before) we decided we'd we rather liked out currently parking spot.
On the plus side we were isolated, protected, and had easy access to a good amount of firewood. A drive the following morning wasn't sounding like the worse thing in the world.
I had my wash bin firepit along and we soon had a respectable fire to enjoy while Kristen cooked a rather fancy dinner.
Once we were fed nice campfire or no neither of us lasted very long.