06 December 2015

Bighorn Mountains

Bighorn Mountain Wilderness

We drive a little further into the maze of dirt roads, including along the extra hiking length, through sand traps and up to a spot a little short of where the road deteriorates. This is our start to a high point that the Hundred Peaks Section lists as "Bighorn Mountains". I dump the dead weight of my camera without any charged batteries and we continue along the road on foot. It does not seem bad at first, as it drops down through a wash and up again. Then it drops down much more steeply past a fallen tree where it looks like some slip just a bit. On foot, it is fine.

After a few twists, we start climbing the mountain itself. It is an easy and steady climb interspersed with sudden, but short, steep climbs. For the most part, it is just a long wind through hills. Barren, tan hills. We are regaled with a story of meeting a few cows including a long horn along this route before. Prints on the road today show some cows have been by not too long ago.

After a long climb, we seem to come out on a large flat. This is definitely one of those mesa. In a move uncharacteristic of the HPS, they all walk right past the high point in the area. The road drops a little and climbs again to a second high point, but they are not interested in this one either. Further along, the road splits and we keep left to get to a third high point a little lower than the other two. This one has a great view to the north and is the one that they are interested in.

In a move completely characteristic of myself, I go looking for the benchmark, but cannot find it. This is odd because there is surveyor trash all over the place. I gather an ally in the search and we try to triangulate based on where the wires were anchored. There is not much area there to search, but we cannot find it. He pulls up the map on his phone and down under the marked path, I can see a little "x". The point was surveyed, but no monument placed. I have to be content with the view.

The view is spectacular. The flat desert stretches out many miles with random bumps. In the distance, lines of mountains can be seen. Gradually, our attention is taken not by them, but by a grey triangle even further out, seen between the sloping sides of two distinct ridges. Could it be Telescope Peak? It would have to be quite tall.

Our time is also taken up with celebrating Mary's list finish. There is a lot of food that appears from nowhere and starts getting passed around. This time, nothing fizzy, though. After a few minutes of celebration, though, the group cannot help but notice the pair who helped shepherd her through the final pieces of her list have suddenly turned their attention to two others who are getting near. It seems a bit quick, but is hard to blame them for being more interested in someone else's first list finish than their own xth list finish.

Gradually, the pressure of the coming darkness gets to us and we head down. It is not so much the possible walking in the dark by lamp, but the driving that we worry about. It really is easier to do it in the daylight. So we follow the road back down.

©2015 Valerie Norton
Posted 13 Dec 2015

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