04 January 2019

Table Top

Mojave National Preserve


Click for map.

Off to another mountain! This one took a little time to find parking, but eventually I found a bit along something I wasn't sure was a real road. It takes a bit of a jump of about 4 feet up quite suddenly which a few users have found a way around, then looks a bit like it is trying to be a camp site, then settles into being a road going on and on towards whatever it might desire. It is even on my map. It is easier to pull off to the side of than the main road so helpful as parking before that sudden up. From here, it should be a jaunty walk across the fairly flat desert followed by a general attempt to go up quickly, but not so quickly as there is a cliff to try to scale. Like the other peaks in the area, this one has a number of cliffs to ring it.

rough stuff on a bit of questionable road
Rough stuff doesn't bother the people who come here. This is the Mojave National Preserve!

I follow the road a little bit, but its direction is far too much to the south for my taste. I am going east to get to the base of Table Top, mountain of extraordinary mesa shape. It is two miles to the east with something smaller to get around first.

some sort of flat topped peak
That doesn't look far ahead, so it must be the something smaller.

rather wider flat looking mountain
Wild Horse Mesa, also holding up the terms of looking like a table.


There is a fence. There are a lot of fences out here to mark off the ranges or properties or wilderness areas. There aren't so many gates, so I have to scamper under it. The bottom level isn't barbed and I can do it at a low spot, so it isn't so bad as it could be. Then I realize that I have gone a mile already and still haven't got around that little thing up ahead. Maybe it isn't so much a little thing as the main event. Good thing I have already plotted a route up it, just in case I wanted to come back over it on the way back. I just have to change my overall angle on my desert walk toward that route.

Table Top has a ramp up, of sorts, from this side
Angling for the ramp of a gully on the side of Table Top. There are more ramps through the cliffs at the top above it. In between has some unknowns.

As I start up my chosen route, there is a clutter of items from a very old camp or a lost cart. A bend of metal and bits of porcelain are around. A little further up, following what is clearly a cow trail, there is a cairn. Someone marked this route before me. Probably someone recently enough to be following the same cow path I see as more cairns appear right beside it. Nice to know someone approves, I suppose. I start to look for them, but don't so much follow them as happen to be going the same way.

looking back
The look back. I suppose that was the little thing to get around, made of granite. It is the first granite I've seen out here.

At the top of the first climb, it levels out a bit. There is a ridge and a valley and a slope in between that is navigated by cows some. The ridge looks like much of it is rocky, but there is probably a comfortable route. The cairns select heading down into the valley and up again at the end. I follow the cows along the edge, mostly keeping my elevation, then joining the cairns again as the climb up. I have a little misgivings about the route, mostly to do with plants with stabs but not barbs.

valley or ridge
Getting a look at the unknown between. Valley or ridge or something in the middle?

Once past that, there is the other major up. This time I am aiming at a spot just past the point of rocks at the far left. It looks like it has at least two spots that allow easy passage through the ring of cliffs at the top. The cairns seem uncertain at first, but once I am out on the steeper slope, I start passing them again.

point of the table
Going not for the point, but right behind it.

northerly view
Gaining new views to the north.

posts at the base of the cliffs
The point has some interesting structure in the posts at its base.

Gold Valley
Gold Valley stretched out below. No longer walking along its edge, now I am high above it.

The slot works out perfectly and there are a couple ways to just walk up to the top. The vast top. It is still a plain at the top, it just happens to have sudden drop offs all around the edge.

plain at the top
Arriving at the top. It's quite large after all.

Turning back to the point, there is a cairn set by surveyors. A stick stands within it held in place by wires. More boards sit on the ground. They were once attached to the upright stick. I look for some other signs of surveyors, but apparently they didn't monument it. Someone has added a register which sees a fair bit of traffic.

surveyor's cairn
Surveyors have been here but didn't care to leave a lasting mark. The temporary one seems to be holding anyway.

something striped and the New York Mountains
The New York Mountains to the north hold one of the 400 most prominent peaks in the lower 48 states.

cliffs with a crumbled spot
The cliffs with their simple passage up one crumbled spot. Behind are the Twin Buttes and Woods Mountains.

long ridge to road and beyond
Looking down the nose: the long ridge extending to the west.

I resolve to walk around the top of the mountain. I start out heading for the stand of still living juniper trees on the south end. So many of these trees are dead by fire both below and up here, it is nice to see that there are stands, sometimes large, remaining.

distant Hackberry Peak
Hackberry Peak, far out and a little bit down.

easterly view
An easterly view along what there is of ridge to contrast with the westerly view.

no hills
Still just a flat expanse at the top from this side too.

north valley again
Coming back around to that which was seen from the point.

It took a full mile to walk around the top. It is not such a little peak after all. The Twin Buttes to the south would be easy to add to the trip, but they didn't look much like my thing. There may be routes for me, but I'm happy enough with the 6k peak. I follow approximately my same route back down. The cairns are not really needed for the way, the landmarks themselves are enough. I should have tried the ridge where the cairns pick the valley, but again cruised along the hill then down some more to the long gone camp. This time I aim a little more tightly around the granite pile between me and the car.

Gold Valley
Back on the edge of Gold Valley.

jackrabbit bounding away
There goes jack.

My path never quite converges with the original path in until the road. As I am passing over a new hill, I spot a pair of cairns about 300 feet apart and then another that could well be 1500 feet from the last one. Another claim! Except this cairn does seem to have a lasting surveyor marker. I have stumbled onto another section corner.

section corner, the marker of the day
No station at the top, so this will have to do. It was set in 1919, so just now turning 100 years old.

I get going a little too far north and need to correct myself to get back to the road and my parking spot of sorts. It's quite a good easy peak. There is a little struggle, but how would one get to the top without a little of that?




©2019 Valerie Norton
Written 8 January 2019

2 comments:

Dave Sailer said...

Thanks for the posts on this area. I had never heard of it before. I can't go anywhere at the moment, but I put it on my list for further research. Looks like it could be a good place to hang out during the cold months. (Though I'm fine for now, in Cuenca, Ecuador, enjoying a second summer.)

Valerie Norton said...

Thanks! It was still pretty chilly, especially when it got windy. Table Top was a particularly nice day, though. I've got one more to write up, but then I headed a little bit lower and southerly to get a little warmer, too. Not quite that far south.