Pioneertown Mountains Preserve
We backtracked out of the minor maze of dirt roads and down another dirt road past only one unsigned intersection to a well graded parking lot to start the second peak of the day with the Hundred Peaks Section hikers. This one is a little longer a hike, but entirely on trail. It is curious how much a difference this makes even on terrain that is simple to cross. Some make use of the facilities before we start the experiment to see how much of a difference it makes between the routes to the peaks today.
|The trail starts from the south side of the overflow and bus parking area.|
|And we are off. The sign spells out the entire mileage for those who find math very difficult.|
We start off on an easy, flat trail, then flirt with an old driveway and drop down steeply into a wash. There are two more quick, steep, and seemingly arbitrary crossings of the wash before we start a steady climb to an old road. A long line of spires to the south grows as we climb further along the road.
|A line of hard volcanic rock.|
|Climbing along the road.|
|Mesas in the distance.|
The trail leaves the road as it nears the prospect the map indicates it travels to. A sign shows the way backed by a cute recent petroglyph on a small rock. Of course the peak baggers ignore this interesting side trail, but I am surprised to see that none of the many foot prints go that way either. Maybe there is nothing over there except the end of the road.
|A little more of the land structures can be seen now. A large fire came through in 2007.|
|Beware the cactus that looks like it has no spines.|
We hit the top, but only to drop down into another valley. We are not yet to the peak. We lose a lot of elevation before finally flattening out and climbing some again.
|We climb over a ridge to drop down the other side, losing so much worked for elevation.|
There is a junction marked by a post. The sides are signs pointing to the peak trail to our left and a loop trail to our right. There is no distance for the loop, but the spur is only another 0.6 miles. It is another easy climb along this trail except for one rough spot where it looks like there are plans forming for a reroute.
|Fun shapes in the rocks.|
|Looking over the valley and mountains to the north.|
|A little bit of old burn and new growth.|
We reach the top and the benchmark. I can only find reference 2 and the station. The group signs the register, but then marches further on to a second bump saying that that one is actually higher.
|CHAPARROSA station at the near peak.|
|There is a much higher mountain to the west.|
|The group gathers at a the true high point.|
I have to admit that my GPS does seem to read 10 feet higher at the further peak, but it jumps around by that much, too.
|Nearby, the rocks erode into soft looking structures.|
|This area is considered mesas. Do those distant flat tops also seem much less like a mesa when climbing them?|
The preserve expects us to finish hiking by dusk, so we try not to take too long at the peak.
|Starting back down.|
|Pioneertown in shadow as the distant peaks light up.|
|The last of the direct sunlight can be a magic time of high contrast.|
|Of course sunset can be quite nice too.|
We make it up and over the ridge and back down to parking with plenty of light. Travel by trail really is a lot faster.
©2015 Valerie Norton
Posted 11 Dec 2015