Monday, February 18, 2013

Old Dad and Old Woman

No, I'm not talking about Lorraine and me, but the two mountains on the Sierra Club's Desert Peaks Section list (although a member, I don't hike with them).  We ascended Old Dad, a mountain south of Baker, California.  Although only 4252', it's quite a scramble up its steep limestone sides.  We camped at the base of it, and met a couple of LV Mountaineers the next morning around 6:15 a.m.  I went up Old Dad a second time with them, while Lorraine stayed at camp to break it down and pack up (thank you, Lorraine!).  We went a different way this time, more direct and with more class 3 climbing.  Fun stuff.  We were up and down in no time and headed off on the long drive to the Old Woman trail head, which is out off of Highway 66.  We met two other Mountaineers there, and the six of us headed up to the Old Woman Mountains High Point (5325'), in the Old Woman Wilderness around 12:45 p.m.  It consisted of nearly two miles of (closed) road hiking, and then into a bouldery, Joshua Tree NP-like wash.  The terrain was steep and required constant climbing of granite rock formations, some of which was unstable or rotten.  More than once I had hand holds or foot holds give out on me.  No one really knew for sure where the peak was, and the terrain was formidable, and I began to worry that we'd not make the summit and get down out of there before dark.  Two of the group were very fast hikers and quickly left the rest of us behind.  So it was Joel, the leader, Rraine, and Jodie and me following up to the obvious saddle and ridge line   We still couldn't determine for sure which of the many high points was the one we were aiming for, but the nearest one seemed most likely to be it, and if it wasn't, well, we were screwed and would have to turn back.  We set four o'clock as the drop dead turn around time and began pushing in earnest for what we hoped was it.  Jodie had enough and said she was quitting, so we found a spot for her to sit and told her to wait for us.  Not long after that we saw Bart and Collin, the two young mountain goats, at the crest of the bump we thought was the summit and we quickly met and queried them as to where the peak was, and they said it was about 15 minutes away.  A big surge from the three of us and we were on the top in eight minutes from where we left them, according to Rr.  We signed in, and it was four o'clock.  Now we had to make tracks down and out of that mountain.  Jodie picked up with Bart and Collin, but we caught them by the first main saddle by staying high and traversing across the granite rock faces and not dropping into the wash like we did on the ascent.  At this point we had about 20 minutes or so of daylight and a fair amount of mountain to get down, so we only paused there briefly to pull out our head lamps and headed down the final wash.  Beating our way through the brush and down climbing the wash we made it out into open country just as it was getting too dark to see.  Success.  We lit up our head lamps and headed down the old road to our cars in the dark.  Rr and I didn't get home until well after nine, way past my bed time.  

So, to sum up, it was dry, cold, and I-15 was closed for about an hour while they sanded all one or two or so inches of snow off the Mountain Pass summit on our way out to the Mojave Preserve.  Our original plans included a quick climb of Clark Mountain, which was right on the way and a fairly short climb.  In Colorado or Wyoming (where I used to live)  the Highway Patrol wouldn't even get out of bed for this.  We had to forgo climbing Clark Mountain because of the snow, so it will have to wait.
Lorraine on the way up.

Clark Mountain in the distance.  Cinder cones in the foreground.
Lorraine at the summit of Old Dad

The glow of the campfire.
Desert hallucinations.

On the way up Old Dad the second time (Photo courtesy of Joel).

At the summit (photo courtesy of Joel).

Joel, me, and Jodie
Neither the red thorned barrel cactus or I were harmed in the making of this photograph (thanks to Jodie for the pic).

On the way back down.

Clark Mountain from the second time up Old Dad.

Place your hands on the rock and feel the universe hum.

Saying good bye to Old Dad

On the way to the first of two saddles on the approach to Old Woman.  The going was easy here.

Lorraine approaching the first saddle.

A strange weather station (?) full of batteries and other odds and ends at the summit of Old Woman

Joel, me, and Lorraine at the summit of Old Woman.


  1. Magic! A bit chilly for camping I think, but I am a real wuss about cold now. What a great excursion, thanks so much for the post.

  2. Very nice, thanks for taking me along with you.


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