By: Tina Bowman
Eight people were signed up for this scheduled DPS climb, but we had two cancellations and two no-shows, so we ended up with a party of four-Greg Gerlach, Gary Murta, Ann Perkins, and me. We met at the campground next to the Ballarat store and started off at 6:30 a.m. up Pleasant Canyon (or as Edna Erspamer described it in a recent Sage issue "Unpleasant Canyon"). As it turned out, our Toyota Tundra with pop-up camper was the only 4WD among us, so Ann, Greg, and I sat in front and Gary was relegated to the back. Not a bad place, except that during one of the more bumpy sections, he slid off the bed on to the floor and decided it wiser to stay there. The guide describes the road as far as the Stone Corral as 2WD, but that seems a stretch of the imagination. At times the stream and the road are one and the brush threatens to enclose the road occasionally, but many large rocks in the road, especially when coming out of the streambed, would present the greatest challenge to a 2WD vehicle.
We had intended to do Route A, but missed this stopping point and so ended up doing a modified version of Route D, omitting the last mile of driving. The road actually gets better past the point where we would have stopped for Route A. The climb ended up being about 5 miles and 2700 feet of gain, not the workout that we had anticipated, but an enjoyable climb. We hiked cast to the ridgeline, discovering on the way up a puzzling feature: a broad rocky path (about 6 feet wide) which looked as though it had been carved out purposely by some kind of equipment, but which didn't seem to lead anywhere. The path went on for about 1/8 mile and then stopped. Has anyone else noticed this? Once we got to the ridge, the climb was straightforward, and we enjoyed views of Sentinel and Telescope from the summit. I remembered my last climb of Porter, which was over Sentinel, on to Porter, and then back over Sentinel to Panamint City. This climb was decidedly easier!
We were back to the camper by about 1:30 p.m., and Greg took his turn in the back this time. On the way down, we passed a large pick-up truck and the driver said "Did you bring that vehicle up the canyon?" I wonder how he thought we had gotten there. We were back to Ballarat at about 3:00, and Greg needed to get home so he departed. We chatted with Gary for a while, and the wind began to come up with blowing sand, so we decided to forego the Sunday part of our adventure and headed for home. I hope to see Greg and Gary again on Desert Climbs - they are good hiking companions, and we learned that Greg is very close to finishing the SPS list!
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