I went on this trip not knowing how long it would last. I was hoping for at least a couple of weeks but I only ended up staying out for nine days. My wife was supposed to join me at some point but she got stuck dealing with some issues with her elderly parents, which helped contribute to me going home early. I took half a day off work on Tuesday and drove to Parker Mountain that morning. The road had been freshly graded, but all that did was dislodge rocks and make the soil loose, making for a bumpy and dusty drive. It took me longer than I expected to get there so I pulled into the first decent spot I could find, at 9,400′ elevation and without any shade. I still had to work half a day so I set up enough to do that, but I was considering moving the next day so I didn’t fully set up camp. It rained all around me that evening but I never saw a drop. At least I had a very nice vantage point to watch all the surrounding storms. It had been 103 degrees at home the day before, and here it never got above 75 this day.
The next day I drove the truck farther up the road scouting for a nicer place to camp but I ran across a fallen tree leaning across the road that the camp trailer wouldn’t fit under. I returned to camp and set things up fully, made some beef kabobs for dinner, and spent the evening on my computer.
After work on Thursday I took the dogs for a hike to the nearby Cinco benchmark. I thought it would be a breeze but it took nearly two hours and was fairly difficult. The summit is surrounded by a lot of fallen trees, and a ring of cliffs and boulders that is only penetrable in one spot. I finally made it to the top–not easy with dogs on a tandem leash–and reached the survey marker. I was expecting a USGS marker but it was a small U.S. Forest Service marker instead, which surprised me because it’s now on state trust land. It was also strange that the benchmark wasn’t at the highest point, but rather a couple hundred feet away and with no views of the surrounding country. I continued to the highest point and found a large cairn and survey pole.
I worked on Friday but didn’t do much else, and then on Saturday I pulled up stakes and moved. I headed into Loa for fuel and groceries, then ended up on the west side of Boulder Mountain. The new spot was only 9,000′ elevation and it was noticeably warmer. The mosquitoes were also quite bad there. It seems I was closer to some better hiking opportunities but still not loving my camp spot.
I didn’t feel like a long hike on Sunday so I just took the dogs for a long walk from camp. I headed out into the rolling hills west of camp near the mouth of Logging Grove Draw. After going far enough and starting to head back to camp I spotted a nice but broken point on the ground.
Monday was a state holiday, Pioneer Day, or Pie and Beer Day for us gentiles. I’d requested that day off at the beginning of the year without having any particular plans, but I decided now to hike to South Point on Boulder Top. It’s the last named point on the mountain that I hadn’t yet visited. Instead of driving east onto Boulder Top and then heading south, I drove south over the Awapa Plateau and then east past Jacob’s Reservoir onto the top. The hike was short and easy, a little over three miles and with minimal elevation change. Unlike all the other named points on Boulder Top, South Point has no view from the point itself and almost no views during the hike as well. I spent more time driving there and back than I did hiking, but it was worth it to check another random place off my list. I couldn’t find any pie at the grocery store in Loa a couple of days earlier so I had a double helping of beer that evening.
On Tuesday and Wednesday I didn’t do much other than work. The mosquitoes were bad enough that I avoided going outside as much as possible. Traci has severe reactions to mosquito bites so I told her not to come down. Wednesday after work I started packing up what I could in preparation of going home the next day. Every day I’d been in this spot there had been a 60-70% chance of heavy rain in the forecast that never materialized, but on Wednesday evening there was one of the heaviest hail storms I’ve ever seen. Luckily I’d done all my packing up before it hit. Thursday morning I headed home early and that was the end of the trip!
I’m not really much of a mountain person–I tolerate them when it’s too hot to camp and hike in the desert during the summer. This trip was particularly mediocre, and with a couple of exceptions the days were uncomfortably warm, hardly worth dragging the camp trailer so far. I’m hoping once it cools off at the lower elevations I can get out for a long desert camping trip with better results.
Photo Gallery: Parker and Boulder