Hamblin Mountain (NV)
By: Bob Michael
HAMBLIN MOUNTAIN (3,310’) LAKE MEAD NATIONAL RECREATION AREA BLACK MOUNTAINS, NEVADA
The country around the Muddy Mountains is some of the most picturesque in the whole Mojave region. Not only does it have some of the most complex, even crazy, structural geology in the United States, but this edifice is constructed using some very colorful rocks. Hamblin Mountain, south of the Muddies between the North Shore Road and Lake Mead, is a quality little peak with a high scenery quotient which belies its modest elevation. It’s at the northern tip of a mostly-Arizona range which the Colorado River has cleft off into Nevada. I found Hamblin on page 272 of Andy Zdon’s Desert Summits while researching the Vegas area for a named peak I haven’t done for the traditional Winter Solstice summit with “Vegas George” Quinn. Our hike began at a pullout on the North Shore Road just past (east) of the wash that drains from Cottonwood Spring. We were a bit surprised to find a bunch of cars in the pullout, looking for all the world like the start of a DPS outing... but we were astonished to find a human trail -- more than just a use trail -- with fresh crisp bootprints starting just across the road and heading south across the bajada where we wanted to go. The trail shortly dropped into the wash,
which we followed to Cottonwood Spring (which indeed had a cottonwood, but no spring). A short cl 3 wall behind the “spring” could be climbed if one wished to continue up the wash, but it seemed to me that this was out of our way. We veered right (west) up a wide tributary wash. About Ľ mile up the wash, on our right, a major fork joins the wash, but some big boulders are jammed in the slot at the confluence. We took the route of least resistance, ending up in an arroyo which petered out on the north side of point 828 meters. We went over this hill; at the saddle between the hill and the NE ridge of Hamblin, we rejoined the “ghost” footprints; they must have gone up the pitch behind the cottonwood tree and come up from the northeast. The obvious easiest route from here dropped slightly off the ridge to the west, into, a footprinted wash which led at a moderate gradient to just below the summit ridge. We followed a good use trail up the final slopes, which contoured past a few little crags to the castellated summit. Despite much evidence of recent visitation, there was no register, so we placed one. A marvelous view of the Lake Mead narrows in Iceberg Canyon, and some precipitous and inaccessible country between us and the lake, rewarded us. To the northeast was total structural chaos -- colorful strata dipped and struck every which way, seemingly without rhyme or reason. In the middle of all this craziness was a broad “Laramide” (Rocky Mountaintype) fold, such as you might see in Dinosaur National Monument, apparently connected to nothing else. We could imagine a demented sadist of a structural geology professor assigning this area to his class as a field mapping project.
Our down route followed the ascent wash out to the gentle valley north of the peak, then over a slight saddle into the wash which ends at the stacked boulder junction not far from the cottonwood. The mystery hiking group - - who we never did catch sight of -- had left by the time we got to the trailhead. Just at sunset, the sun broke through a cloud deck, igniting the surrounding buttes with the most incandescent alpenglow either of us had ever seen... a moment of transcendent spirituality for the Solstice.
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