McCullough Mountain, New York Mountains
By: Scott Jamison
Several new faces showed up at the mouth of Keystone Canyon Saturday morning. Not only was Ken McElvany finally participating in his first DPS trip, but my son Brad, who is still recovering from major knee surgery, and his friend Joe Schaak from Mt Baldy Village came along for the rides.
We consolidated cars and drove quickly up the canyon as far as the 4WDs would go. The first thing I heard when we got out of the cars was Bill Banks saying "many times, but never from here!" Larry and checked the map and terrain and figured that either our compasses were both off or we were in the wrong canyon. So we descended and took the "gray" road that led up to the proper trailhead.
At around 8:30 we walked up to the mine, which had rusty, frozen water oozing from the entrance, and started up the ridge. We kept to the right while trying to "stay on the back of her", as Bill Banks kept hinting to me. With lots of his help and hints, we contoured high on the ridge, finally teaching a point northeast of the saddle where we could see New York Mtn. The "bowl" leading to the summit ridge is steep, and we kept contouring higher and higher until directly across from the peak. At this point, we dropped down, crossed Caruthers Canyon, and climbed up to the base of the summit rocks. With Bill showing us the way, we approached from the north, crawled up a few blocks and crevices, used a couple of vegetable belays, and suddenly were on top. The ice and snow that Marta Flores was worried about was not there, except for some fairly soft snow on some of the north facing slopes.
Since Bill had made it so easy for us going up, he led the way back down to the cars, finding some fun rocky chutes and steep slopes to negotiate on the way down. Brad and Joe met us at the parked cars right at 1:30, after coming back from fishing over on Lake Mojave at Cottonwood Cove. Ellen Miller drove Ken's Cherokee back down the rotten 4WD road to the mouth of the canyon, and stunned him to silence when she told him it was her first time driving a 4WD.
We left this trailhead and drove to Nipton, barely missing meeting Karen Leonard and her house guests, Christopher Robbin (London) and Nick Masica (Chicago) at the prearranged junction. (My fault!!) We were surprised at the quantity of people in the general store, nearly all of whom were buying lottery tickets at 2 PM on a Saturday. The parking lot was jammed and every resident must have been there. (At least 30!)
From Nipton, we headed for a camp site near McCullough. The new peak guides were out, and we followed the new directions until a discrepancy was discovered. After turning left (w) from the power. line road, we stayed left at the first fork with 3 options, and then turned right at the second fork. This road does indeed lead to the old corral, whereas if we had stayed left as mentioned in the 3rd edition, we would have wound up in a sandy wash, as Karen and her friends did while trying to find us that night.
Larry found a wide wash, and we managed to get all the vehicles parked and happy-hour set up. Joe dug a deep fire pit for Barbie Hoffman, who barbecued scrumptious chicken for the next couple of hours. Larry made his quesadillas, everyone brought out good stuff, and we enjoyed a great happy hour, meal, and campfire. I made a few margueritas, and then passed around a bottle of Rompope that George Pfeiffer and Jim Farcas swore was banana custard, (until the next morning!) Karen and her friends found our camp about 6:30. We had left a note in a duck at the power line turn-off, which they found, and then they followed the new peak guide's directions, and didn't find us for quite a while. Fortunately there was plenty of food and beverages, so we were able to partially assuage some bent feelings.
We broke camp at 7:30, left Tom Moumblow's and Karen's cars in the wash, and drove to the corral. The weather was cold, and Brad and Joe were off down the road before realized that I needed a warmer jacket. Larry got them on the CB, and they brought me back some warmer clothes. The CBs turned out to be very handy. Larry and I have been using them for about a year, and we recommend that any trip using more than one vehicle use them. They're fun, and they make for less confusing (and less dusty) drives across the back roads.
Larry followed some ducks he had left on a previous attempt, and we were soon at a saddle showing the peak and the gully leading toward it. We made the peak by around 11 am, and, after a short chilly stay, headed back. Part way down the gully, we came across a freshly-killed javelina that was still warm. His neck was bloody, and we found fairly large cat tracks near his body. We were probably watched with more than a litle interest by whoever's dinner we were standing over. The little wild pig was really a cute animal!
We reached the corral about 1:25, and waited for Steve Smith to change a low tire. Brad and Joe had not fished, as planned, but drove my car to Vegas! He told the change-girl that the nickels were for the gum-machines! They were back on time, so we all left the canyon , picked up the other vehicles, and met at the new Bun Boy in Baker. (Less thermometer!) The food is pretty good, and somehow Karen managed to get a peach cobbler that wound up on nobody's bill.
Joe drove Paula Peterson back in her Nissan, giving her a chance to practice on her new CB and to be a passenger for a change. Joe, a firefighter from Mt Baldy, will be joining us on future trips. I'm pretty sure that the trip and especially the happy-hour with Barbie's chicken may have hooked Ken McElvany into participating on more DPS trips. We all had a pretty good time!
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