Big Maria Mountains, Palen Mountains
By: Larry Machleder
Sixteen participants met along the Midland Road north of Blythe Sat, morn. at 8:00AM. The intent was to drive the pole-line road to pole 45/1, and hike from there. However, the road was so poor that rather than risk some of our vehicles, we stopped at pole 49/5 approx. 3 miles up the road, extending our day somewhat.
From pole 45/1 at a 50° bearing, a major canyon opens on to the valley. This canyon runs SE at 120°-140° and leads to a saddle directly below the plainly visible summit of Big Maria to the north. Fourteen of our 16 starters made the peak.
We then caravaned to the Inca-Palen Pass Road to camp Sat, night, and continued on the road Sun. morn, as far as our vehicles could be safely driven. The easiest way up the peak is to continue walking the road into an enormous canyon that leads directly to the peak. However, through poor memory, a misleading or misinterpreted earlier write-up, and plain navigational ineptitude, we ascended via the north ridge of Palen Mountain. It was actually a very pleasant and scenic route.
We descended via the faster major canyon. Fourteen of 16 starters made the peak, and all drove out safely with daylight to spare.
The weather was excellent; in fact we sat on the summits in our T-shirts both days and were actually bothered by mosquitoes both nights. A lively and entertaining group made this trip in general and Sat, evening in particular lots of fun.
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