Granite Peaks May 2020

A HOGO (Hike One, Get One) that was almost too much for a solo hike.

Trying to work off my list of San Bernardino mountains, I selected Granite Peaks while “quarantined” up at our cabin. I knew this was to be a difficult cross-country hike, but I was surprised at the difficulty. At lot had to do with the fact that with the quarantine, I’ve had little hiking to get into shape. This turned out to be a good test of my stamina and navigation skills. I started off 2N02 near Cactus Flats. Granite Peaks is in the transition zone between the mountains and high desert. At the start I thought I could see the peak appearing about 2 miles distant. I could tell it was a very steep, rock strewn mountain. The approach was an easy cross-country hike through pinion pine and yucca tree forests. It was an old ranch at one time and if I had time, I was going to explore trying to find the old ranch house.

When I got to the base of the mountain, it was very steep with large boulders. After about 1,000 feet and a good 45 minutes, I was finally on what I thought was the top. Instead I found myself on a beautiful plateau but staring at the twin peaks of Granite Peaks ½ mile in the distance.

I looked back at the view before starting up and I saw a very large smoke plume near Big Bear. I could not tell exactly where it was. I had cell signal and called Dorie to make sure it was not near the cabin and that she was safe.  Luckily, the fire was a controlled burn directly on the ridge across the lake from us.

I headed up the imposing peak. As I started to climb, rocks were crumbling, and moving around all over the place at every step. No step or hand hold seemed safe or stable. I stepped on a large granite boulder spanning a deep fissure and the boulder split in half with my leg falling through wedged in the fissure. I first thought was “Is my Swiss Army Knife going to be sharp enough to cut my leg off so I could get out.” But on second thought, I figured out how to get the boulder pieces out of the way and un-wedging my leg. At this point I climbed back down and summited both Granite Peak and Granite Point from a slightly easier route. Still, this was a Kevin or Matt approach to the peaks. Both peaks have markers and old wooden survey markers.

I noticed small crosses painted on many of the boulders and later sent Kevin a photo, thinking that these may mean something to rock climbers. Kevin had never seen these type markings and said most climber signals are chalk X marks denoting unstable foot or hand holds. So, these were probably sites where hikers, not climbers bit the dust.

The next day Dorie and I went for a nice mountain bike ride in the Holcomb Valley following the old gold trail. The following day we went on a little exploratory hike on some trails I had noticed where the PCT crosses Rt 18. The area was loaded with mine sites, and guess what? Dorie found gold. She found a rock with a gold flake, maybe 1/1,000,000 of an ounce! We’re not rich yet but it was fun to find it. We’ll return to find the big nuggets. An interesting hike for the next time will be to take the PCT from Onyx Mountain to this intersection.  (Click on any picture to view slides)


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