"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious" ~ Albert Einstein

Friday, March 15, 2013

Kingston Peak (7,355'), March 1st, 2012

Since I am having too much fun with this blog right now, I figured I would put up my most recent desert adventure.

I couldn't decide between several peaks this weekend, but the fact that this one had a Geocache clinched it.  I knew Kingston Peak was considered one of the rougher DPS listed peaks, so I was kind of mentally preparing myself for some nasty terrain.  The topo software says the hike is around 8-9 miles, but most people seem to get 9-10 miles and 3800' of gain on their GPS.  This is probably from weaving around all the bushes and other obstacles. 

I drove out the night before, heading almost half way to Vegas, or more, before heading off on the Excelsior Mine road near Mountain Pass, right before dropping down to Primm, NV.  It was then 28 miles of lonesome, dark desert road before arriving at the rather remote trail head.  It was a while since I slept in my car last and it was kind of fun.  I miss living out of the car for a weekend of hiking and hope to do more this summer.

I woke up at first light and made a Chia seed cereal with Goji Berries and Mulberries and 2 scoops of Hemp protein powder.  Yes, this is all part of the new super-food hobby and was an experiment!  Trying to get more healthy food on these hikes.  It's been working out great too.  I guess Chia seed is used by a lot of athletes, since it's an easy-to-digest protein source and it's hydrating properties.  It definitely kept my energy levels up for quite a while.

As I started out I was treated with a nice moon set, while the hills started to glow from the sunrise.   There wasn't a soul around either.  In fact, I didn't see a soul the whole trip!

Moonset and Sunrise

I read several trip reports by other folks before hand and I knew there was a lot of bushwhacking for a couple miles across a valley.  What they all neglected to mention was the rocks scattered all over the place too.  The next hour, or so, had me weaving all over the place between bushes and over rocks, while keeping an eye out for snakes and ticks. I eventually reached a decision point, once closer to the mountain.  Either take the gullies, which is the standard way most seem to go, or take the steep ridge in the middle.  Since the bushes only got thicker and taller in the gullies (they went from around knee-high at the start, to head high by this point and looked to be above-head high in the gullies), I said screw the gullies and went for the ridge.  It was steep and loose in places, but at least there was a bit of a reprieve from the bushes.

Heading Up The Ridge On The Way To Kingston Peak
I was carrying extra water, extra food, and stupidly decided to pack my Glock 9 too.  With the extra weight and being a bit out of shape, my quads and lungs got a great work out going up the ridge - felt great!  I eventually made it to the top of the ridge line and proceeded on to what is called the Second Saddle.  I knew I would get my first view of Kingston Peak from there and told myself before hand it will look worse than in the pictures - it always does!  When I got there, it did look far, but not quite as bad as I thought it would.

Kingston Peak, in Background, From Second Saddle

I made a dumb decision to drop down off the ridge line along the way due to some cliffs.  I discovered on the way back that the other side was a much better way to go, but, oh well, I made life a lot harder for myself on the way there.  Along this part, I heard some crashes in the bushes near me and thought, oh boy, a mountain lion.  But, it always sounds louder in proportion to the size of the animal making the noise.  It turned out to be two large, beautiful pheasants.  Unfortunately, after just getting "Stucka By A Yucca" and annoyed at my route choice, I didn't have the mindset to grab the camera and take a picture.  Eventually, I got around the cliffs and back on the ridge and was treated to more nice views along the ridge.

Views Along Summit Ridge Line

I finally made it to the summit and relaxed and enjoyed some great desert views and the utter solitude.  It was a beautiful day to be there.  Suddenly, I remembered the Geocache, but really didn't feel like looking for it at this point and after all that!  It was also rated 4.5 out of 5 stars in difficulty, so I knew it wasn't going to be easy to find.  I gave it a half-hearted attempt and quickly gave up, settling back into enjoying the views and having some lunch before heading back down.  Definitely more of a hiker than a geocacher!  After a while, I started down and enjoyed some more views along the summit ridge line.

Kingston Peak Summit Views

By now, I was a bit mentally exhausted from watching my footing and weaving around obstacles.  On the ridge line, one not only has to look where one puts their feet, but half-dead branches pointing down from trees are trying to take your head off.  It's hard to look down and up at the same time and sure enough, one of the branches got me and gave me a nice 2-in long gash on my head.  Luckily, it wasn't deep, or too hard of a noggin knocker, so I was just fine.  I got back down near the top of the lower ridge and then slowly, but surely, made my way down to the valley below, at which point, only 2 miles of hellish bushwhacking separated me from my car.

Bushwack Hell

I made it to my car very low on water and was parched!  I stretched for a bit and enjoyed the cool spring water that was in my car.  Then, I remembered the other superfood snack I brought - green energy bars.  How did I forget about them until now!  These are made from Dates, Cashews, Hemp Seeds, Wheatgrass and Spirulina.  It was decadent to eat all eight bars I brought right there in one sitting and a great way to top off the hike. :)

The drive out was really enjoyable, especially given that I didn't get to see any of the scenery on the way in at night.  The Kingston Range wilderness area is really pretty.  I'll have to get back some time, although I'm not sure I need to go up Kingston again.  I drove out feeling very satisfied thanks to the nice, adventurous day (if not a bit bruised and scratched up at the same time!)

Mount Clark on the Drive Out

Kingston Peak Topo Map

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