05 December 2015

Black Mountain

Bighorn Mountain Wilderness

It is the season for peak bagging, at least if not too high up, so I headed down south again to join the Hundred Peaks Section hikers for another weekend. Today we navigated a minor maze of dirt roads to a seemingly random spot on Bureau of Land Management land surrounded by scattered inholdings. I am glad to not have been trying to navigate my little car over the last quarter mile or so and especially glad not to be trying to get into the parking with it. We are surrounded by shrubs, little road, and no trail. We simply set off in a rough direction toward higher things to the east. In the desert, the plants cannot grow very densely, so this is just a matter of choosing a path of many. Preferably, not too close to the cholla.

hikers in the desert
Setting off into the morning sun. Just pick a direction.

The hills ahead, which almost entirely hide the mountain.

We climb up that first hill hitting a thin set of dirt tracks in a saddle beside a fire ring. They do not look like they get much use, but someone drove here recently. We do not stick to the road for long as we contour around a hill to set eyes on the mountain to climb. Well, hill. There really is not a lot of climb to be done and most of it has already been done except for the small canyon between us and it. At one point, bright sunlight glistens off a distant flat that is the Salton Sea. We wind our way down, now sometimes seeing the hint of trail from those who have followed this path before us.

Joshua trees on a flat
A few Joshua trees make their living in the flat areas nearby.

distant Salton Sea
The low spots combine to allow a brief view of the distant Salton Sea.

peak ahead
Just a little peak ahead.

pinon pine
We pass by many a pinon pine as well.

Close to the peak, I am briefly distracted from the climb. I checked the map before coming and noticed a quarter section corner near to the peak and we are passing just 50 feet north of the point I have in the GPS to help find it. It only takes a minute to set out south along the contour to my rough point, then turn and find the post. No one else is particularly interested in my found survey monument, and so we climb the last few feet to the mountain top.

quarter section
Quarter section corner from 1937. Since it is not stamped with the information, this is R4E T2N SBB.

Signing the peak register. The 1939 station at the top is a lot easier to find, although not the actual monument.

people settling in
Gathering on the large, flat top, generally toward the part of the view that is new after hiking up the other side.

At the top, we sign the register, eat a bit of lunch, and generally look around and talk. That is just how it is done in a big group.

eastern mesas
An area of mesas to the east stand out as unique formations. Click for panorama.

western rise of real mountains
Some larger mountains to the west at the foot of San Gorgonio.

area of Meeks
Something for another day.

flat desert with bumps
The perfect flat of the desert is interrupted by small volcanic bumps. Click for panorama.

But soon we are ready to go again because we still have to do the cross country back to the cars and the drive out again before hitting the second peak for the day. Oh, and then there is the party because this is the Holiday Hooplah.

winding fibers on a yucca
A variety of yucca, like the Joshua trees, but grows much wider and generally does not get as big.

pinon pine
Another pinon pine on our way back around the hill behind it.

cactus close up
Large circles of these low growing cactus are all over.

cholla cactus
The taller cholla cactus, which everyone gives a wide berth.

stop the cars
And back down to the cars in an open spot in the distance.

©2015 Valerie Norton
Posted 9 Dec 2015

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