By: Steve Smith
With memories of deep snow in the Grapevines during April of last year, Bill Banks still decided to accompany me on a climb of Mt. Palmer. The weather was perfect and as we drove up to the mine in Phinney Canyon it was apparent that the snow was all gone but not the desert wild flowers. Both the desert lowlands and Phinney Canyon were alive with a beautiful variety of desert plants. Pincushion, mallow, Desert peach, Paint-brush, Princes plume, Winter fat, gilia, Hop-sage, many different buckwheats, Blazing star, Indigo bush, primrose, locoweed, lupine, Desert alyssum, and phacelia were some of the most dominate blooming plants adorning the desert landscape.
The natural beauty and solitude of this scenic desert locale was just as nice as when I had last visited the canyon over 8 years ago. It was satisfying to note that such a splendid desert area has not been affected by any harmful intrusions. Parking next to the mine shaft at 6,800' where the canyon road becomes rough and steep, we began by taking the traditional route for Grapevine Peak and hiked up the road until it reaches the ridgeline. Leaving the road, we then made an undulating ridgeline traverse southwest to the summit.
The rounded summit at the end of the ridgeline is obvious and it was just a matter of traversing along the ridgeline, bypassing several rocky highpoints, to reach the end. A faint trail created by a scheduled climbing group the previous weekend could be seen much of the way and the summit view, as usual for desert peaks, was a great panorama the Panamints, Sierra-Nevada, Grapevine Peak, and Corkscrew Peak really stood out. The return hike and drive out was enjoyable as we continued to observe the many flowering plants and took in the changing desert views to end another pleasant desert climb.
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