Mustache Mosey 2018: Providence Benchmark

  • Updated: January 13, 2018
  • Post By: Matthew Hengst

January 13th, 2018
9.5 miles, 3,200'

The Mustache Mosey (aka The Premier Upper Lip Hair Based Desert Social Event Of The Season) was started back in 2011 by myself and Jack Kieffer as a way to spice up a relatively pedestrian pair of peaks with some not insignificant access difficulties.  Peaks were climbed, ridiculous mustaches were worn, and unfortunately several vehicles had tires shredded before we were done.  And we've maintained the tradition ever since.  (Except for the tires.  Mostly...)

It's since become a favorite of some and a cause of much confusion and head shaking for others.

This year we were headed out to Mojave east of Barstow along the 40.  We had three activities planned for the weekend the first of which was a climb of Providence Benchmark.  Providence is less well known than its neighbors as the range includes the DPS peaks Edgar and Mitchelle which are slightly infamous for their epic amounts of cactus.

Providence looked to be a little gentler and yet included more varied vegetation than some desert peaks while having the extra advantage of a perfect tucked away camp nearby.

We drove out Friday night relieved to have a short drive for once after last weekend's long haul to Mexico.  Of course I insisted on scouting the trailhead for Cady along the way so we still didn't get to camp until after midnight.  (I'll cover that scout in the Cady write up since it applies there)

We took the 15 out to Barstow and then the 40 to Kelbaker Road.  The turn off of Kelbaker wasn't signed *except* for the flashing Watch For Sexy Tortoise sign.

After than a decent high clearance road led back to where we camped.  I'd originally told people that if the road wasn't passable we'd stay at the Limited Camping waypoint since that looked spacious from the satellite shot.  When I drove past I saw the road heading south had been blocked by BLM stakes and we would have struggled to fit even half the vehicles there.

Fortunately CampIsPossible was rather awesome.  The road went back into the rocks where there was a small loop which had plenty of space for our 6 vehicles and all of our tents.  There was even a nice firepit back in the rocks.  Everyone had high clearance vehicles of one type or another and all made it back without incident except for Steve Eckert in his Sprinter Van which couldn't make it past the tight turns.  (He found a park for that on the far side of Kelbaker and joined us using his jeep)

All but one person had come out the night before and once he arrived we were able to get moving around 7:45 am.

This also marked the return to action of my slightly worn Sportkilt.

Granted kilts really aren't a good fit for desert terrain filled with cactus and cats claw but stubbornness can get you through anything.  (That is as long as you don't mind your legs looking like they were attacked by several hyperactive cats.)

We followed the road a short distance to the location of the Pine Tree Ranch on the topo but didn't see any sign that anything was once there.  From there we just set out cross county aiming for a bit wash running east near 1253T.  There was cactus down here but it could mostly be avoided.

Once we started up the wash we got in to the cactus zone proper.

There was more cactus and cholla here but nothing close to what I'd feared based on the scars left by Edgar and Michelle years ago.

We reached a saddle near 1659T and followed the path of least -ish resistance towards the peak.  Pretty much any route will do.

We reached the peak at 12:10 pm.  Which of course meant it was 'stache time

The register up top dated back to 1986 and contained a number of familiar names to which we added our scrawls.

We left the summit at 1:20 pm or so and retraced our steps back to camp.

We made it back to the cars at 5 and proceeded to the next phase of the Mosey: food, fire, and alcohol!

The site was a perfect for a party and we all eventually headed to our sleeping bags looking forward to the next day which would include sledding Kelso Dunes and climbing a peak!

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