04 January 2017

Red Mountain

Bureau of Land Management

The second peak of the day with the Hundred Peaks Section is a little way down the road and up another minor maze of numbered roads full of large rocks. As things get steep and eroded, we pull aside to embark with the much more reliable two foot drive. One set of truck tracks continues further, but seems to have quit after dislodging a large rock in the road just a few feet further. There are only motorcycle tracks on the road after that. We climb upward toward a saddle between a lovely rounded lump and a ridge to the peak lost in the clouds. It had looked clearer in this direction as we traveled between the mountains, but the hope is now dashed. Maybe it will clear a little by the time we get up there.

low clouds over the peak
The ridge to the peak vanishes into the clouds. The road looks better again up here where things level off again.

Red Mountain, the town
The town of Red Mountain below.

mountains beyond the saddle
More mountains in the distance when we get to the saddle.

At the saddle, we turn up the edge of the ridge. A parallel road joins us and winds upward as things get steeper. We shortcut a sudden drop and rise by staying flat along the hill side. A very small additional climb puts us in another saddle with a vernal pool. Today, the pool is wide and full of some very thick water or very thin mud.

vernal pool
It sure looks soggy over there.

flat desert, mostly
A flat desert in the distance interrupted by more peaks.

We wander past the pool and more roads that look like 4 wheeled vehicles do use. A thin trail continues on the other side. We follow it shortly, then turn off for a steep climb up to another ridge. The route quickly gets rocky. Again, the rocks are volcanic. One leader feeling the wind and looking up at the clouds decides her heart is just not into it today and turns back taking a second. We have two more, so the hike can continue as planned.

northeast view
Still trying to see the view.

clouds close
Almost into the clouds.

We skirt around the worst of the rocks and find ourselves climbing a wide and gentle ridge line. The clouds are closed in around us and there is nothing to see but the three inch millipedes that have been prevalent on both mountains today. We simply drift upward in it all.

a bit grey with two legs per segment
One of hundreds of millipedes wandering the mountain.

The ridge brings us to a peak, but it does not have the distinctive clutter that is said to be on Red. The rocks should have a surveyor signature from the early 1900s, but here there is only a signature in wood from the late 1970s.

summit signature in wood
A summit signature left in a wooden piece, but this is not the summit.

Off to the southeast, or at least what we hope is roughly that direction, there is a trail dropping down. Wherever it came from, it is not too hard to follow along here. It drops a short way to a saddle, then begins to rise again. The shadow of a mountain shape looms before us, but we seem to not be any closer to its imagined top where things melt into the cloud. The rocks seem to be getting redder as we go.

another saddle
The trail bottoms out as hoped and we are in another saddle ready to climb to the real peak.

something out there
There is something out ahead of us, looming in the clouds.

sudden rock outcrop
A tempting point, but we can see just well enough to see a little more mountain beyond.

Then there is nowhere upward to go. The light seems to brighten as we arrive, but that is short lived. A platform with yellow tanks marks the top. A loose and unstamped USGS mark and a post is all I can find of benchmarks, but conditions are not good for finding them. As we stand at the top, the wind is blowing furiously from the west, but step back a few feet east and it quiets. The wind is launching itself up the slope and high over our heads, but it is not pushing the clouds away from the view as it does so. We are stuck in the clouds.

platform and more
Tanks and platform and more at the top of Red Mountain.

rock signatures
Graffiti and historic graffiti as people sign the rocks.

Again, we do not stay long. It is cold and it might be getting dark by the time we get down. The road is one that would be better driven with at least a little bit of light. The trail gets us back to the false peak easily enough. From here, we wander a bit back and forth down the wide ridge. It would be easy to start going down one side or the other of it rather than following along the indistinct top.

low clouds
Trying not to lose each other in the low clouds.

The ridge ends, but there is a little hint of something off to the left. We follow that and find our trail up through the rocks from the little trail below. As we get back to the road system, we get back underneath the clouds a little. The pool is the same mucky thing assuring us we arrived in the right place. We continue on back the way we came along the roads.

rounded lump of red rock
Getting back to the first saddle and there is the rounded peak of red rocks across from us.

returning in the sunset
Only a little bit of color in the sunset as we finish the hike.

We are back shortly before sunset and there is just enough light to help driving out. Another good hike, if a bit windy and cold and cloudy.

©2017 Valerie Norton
Posted 6 January 2017

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