Pahrump Point, Stewart Point
By: Gary Craig
Due to the ever-present trip publication deadlines, trips in late October are actually planned in early March. Sue and I picked this weekend that far ahead of time and wound up with great weather, but we had originally settled on a trip to Hayford and Stirling, higher peaks near Las Vegas. Unusually severe early storms dropped a lot of snow in the region and on these peaks just three days before our planned departure, so with much frantic scurrying about we contacted all of the participants and changed the destinations to the much lower, nearby, and snow-free Pahrump and Stewart. Fortunately most of the group was up for most any outing so we had a nice turnout and two successful dayhikes. We found the Guide directions (both driving and hiking) to be very accurate for both peaks.
We climbed Pahrump on Saturday via the standard DPS Guide route. In addition to myself and co-leader Sue Holloway, we had Cliff Jones, Bob Hoeven, Jim Adler, Ken Barr, Brydon Barr, and John Strauch hiking. We made the summit in about the "recommended" time, and had exceptionally clear views, especially toward the east where we could see the entire expanse of the Spring Mountains (Charleston, Mummy, and one of our original targets, Stirling) blanketed in snow. We were glad to be where we were, perfectly dry and enjoying a wonderfully cool day.
I had made informal plans with Patty Rambert and Ron Eckelmann to meet them after our hike at a camp / potluck spot near the Stewart Point trailhead. There is an acceptable campsite on the south side of highway 178, almost exactly at the crest of the road about 1 mile west of the standard Stewart trailhead. There are some level spots at an "extended turnout" but one cannot get very far from the highway itself due to red-staked roads. Fortunately, there isn't much traffic on this road late at night. Anyway, just as we were setting up the first round of happy-hour munchies, Ron and Patty drove in, having successfully climbed Brown Peak via the east-side "B" route that day (the shorter "A" route from the Greenwater Valley was still inaccessible due to flood damage). We also continued the DPS's "Beers of the World" tradition in fine style with many tasty contributions. Oh yeah the potluck dinner was great too.
Our climb of Stewart went equally well as Pahrump. One note of personal interest is that for the second time I was climbing Stewart as a backup plan; the first time being in 1995 after snow altered the plan for a climb of Bridge Mountain and Potosi. Again we climbed via the standard DPS Guide route (with Patty and Ron along now), and we made good time along the canyon-andridge route. We retraced the route for our descent with a slight delay when Ken spotted a fine Chuckwalla on a rocky spur just above the bottom of the canyon, where we paused a bit to watch and take some pictures.
I had climbed each of these peaks once before, both times via a non-standard route, so for me, each of these hikes covered new terrain below the summits despite taking "standard" routes. "Exploration", even on a personal scale, is one of the finest aspects of any hiking adventure, and is particularly easy to come by on DPS outings. For the participants of this adventure, many thanks - I hope you enjoyed the trip. If you haven't been "out there" recently, we miss you!
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