Turtle Mountains HP, Whipple Mountains HP, Chemehuevi Peak

Looking for some desert solitude I headed to the southeastern part of the Mojave desert. I found what I was looking for and more: 3 nights, 3 days, 3 sunsets, 3 sunrises, 3 bushwhacking peak ascents, 0 people, 5 burros, 1 fox, 1 bighorn that didn’t make it, wind, cold, total silence at times, numerous attacks by cholla cacti (didn’t need that).

Turtle Mountains HP (4298 ft, Hike: 13 miles / 3090 ft gain)
I drove out to the starting point for this climb which is located at the end of Castle Rock Rd of off Hwy 62. At the turn off the road is not labeled by name, but later on there were signs giving it’s name. In the past this road was open all the way to the foot of the mountains, but now it’s closed some 3 miles short of the mountains. Extra hiking distance.
It was very windy and I barely saw the mountains in all the blowing sand and dust. Since the sun had just set, I had a quick snack and immediately went into the back of the truck. After being rocked by the wind all night it finally died down in the early morning, as forecast, and I had perfect hiking weather. I hiked up the road then some washes and promptly took the wrong ridge up. When I noticed this mistake I didn’t feel like scrambling back down and so continued up to the south ridge leading to the peak. The ups and downs on this narrow rocky ridge added some elevation gain and time, but no extra distance. It was a bit hazy from the weather front moving through, but I got some decent views. On the way down I found a cairned route and followed it. The further down I got the fewer the cairns.

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Whipple Mountains HP (4130 ft, Hike: 9.3 miles / 2950 ft gain)
After the Turtle Mountains hike I drove to the Whipple Mountains. I didn’t quite make it to the War Eagle mine, from where my next climb was to start the next day, so I found a nice spot to camp just before sunset. Just as I was picking the spot 5 burros walked by. There was a mild breeze with some stronger gusts, but it was much better than the previous evening.
The next morning I packed up, startled a little fox out of his burrow in the process, and drove to the mine. From there I started hiking up the big wash towards the mountains. The route follows wash up all the way to the bottom to a cliff. As the wash got narrower there were some small dry falls to climb. For a good portion of this section I was able to follow a burro trail. Apparently they head up there in search of water. At the bottom of the cliff tracks that I had downloaded indicated that people traverse to the left to a gully and then climb up. The gully was very steep but ended on a gentler ridge which took me to another ridged and saddle a bit east of the peak. It was windy and on the shaded side of the mountain cold enough for me to put on a jacket and even consider gloves.
The view on this day was better than the day before and I got a great look at Lake Havasu and the huge expanse of Havasu City in AZ on the other side of the Colorado river. On my way down I noticed the remains of a bighorn sheep, I had completely missed that on the way up. Rather than following the wash with it’s soft sand I stayed more on the higher ground on the down trip since it provided firmer ground for easier walking.
Next I drove over to Chemehuevi Peak, parked along the powerline, got my beer out, then the hot chocolate and cookies after dinner.

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Chemehuevi Peak (3694 ft, Hike: 7.6 miles / 2080 ft gain)
After waiting for the sun to rise, it was cold that morning, and a hot coffee I started out towards the peak. After about 3 miles up the gentle slope I reached the steep wash leading up to the saddle. There were some big rocks to scale and some very slippery sections of loose rock, but overall it was fun. From the saddle the route turns east and is well marked with cairns. It contains a steep section with some dry fall climbing. The views on this day were the best of the trip and I was able to make out San Jacinto Peak way to the west.
After the hike I cleaned up and headed home with just one quick tail gating stop to have some bread with avocado.

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