Black Mountain #6, Red Mountain, Onyx Peak #2
4 February 1995
By: Frank Dobos
Leaders: David Eisenberg, Frank & Ruth Dobos
The meeting was 8:30 Saturday morning at the junction of Hwy 14 and Randsburg Road. Nine of us squeezed in three trucks and we drove up on Mesquite Canyon to the trailhead of Black Mtn. The road was in fairly good shape after all the rains in the month of January, and we reached the trailhead without any trouble.
There was some question about the legality to drive all the way to the water collector, however we didn't see any restricting sign at that location. Around 10 am nine of us started to hike in the hot desert. We climbed down on the steep hill and I selected the canyon as the better route, slightly cooler than the ridge. Than we contoured around the rock piles, and crossed the volcanic caldera. It was quite a surprise to find the ground soft and wet, as later Ray Soucy made a wrong step and sunk deep into the bottomless mud pit. I happened to be right there, and was able to pull him out of the sticky mud. This was the only accident, and after that we climbed to the top, signed the register and had lunch. The visibility was unlimited, we found the snow covered Telescope Peak, Olancha, Mt Whitney, Mt Langley. Most of the nearer peaks had snow above 6000'. It was so peaceful and beautiful, we wanted to stay an the top forever. But we had other peaks to climb, so we started down keeping an open eye to find the grave.
On one of my previous leads of this mountain, we found a cairn and a marker which was dedicated to a man named Smith. All I remembered was that the marker was on a rocky hillside. So we were looking every possible location, until I found it. It is located just south of the crater, elevation 5060', by a tiny circle on the topo which indicates elevation 5080'. It is not a grave, but an aluminum plate with letters stamped in it. It says: THE MEMORY OF FREDERIK STEPHAN SCHMIDT, BORN 1929, DIED 1990. We took some pictures. In the meantime Ruth and Ray hiked the north side of the crater and Ruth found some obsidian chips. Someone was making arrow points.
Back at the cars, David decided to go for Red Mtn. Erv and Janet Bartel said farewell, they headed home. We drove through Johannesburg and Randsburg to a dirt road branching off from the Trona Road and we drove it until Theresia didn't find it safe to risk the paint on her new truck. We started hiking on the jeep road which can be driven further, depending the condition of the road and the skill of the driver. We reached the mountain top in good time. Ann Lee, our official photographer took pictures. After that we darted down to beat the darkness. We got back to the trucks with some daylight left, drove out on the rocky road.
The next move was to pick up the cars and find a camp site in Jawbone Canyon. We made plan to eat dinner in Mojave, at Graziano's restaurant. They serve good Italian food. We left the place well stuffed. Drove 20 more miles to Jawbone Canyon and went to sleep listening to the always present wind.
Sunday morning Greg Gerlach joined our eager climbing group. We wanted to save time and milage, David suggested driving to Onyx by the Butterbredt Road. Theresia Glover, Homer Meeks and myself drove our trucks. It was pretty good, until we got to Kelso Valley. There we encountered deep sand from all the runoffs after the rain. All the trucks were fish tailing in the soft soil. It was a gorgeous day, not a cloud on the sky, warmer than one wants it to climb a steep peak like Onyx. At the trailhead the gate was open, however a sign saying: No motorcycles, No jeeps. We started to hike first on the flat field, than the steep ridge. David led us straight to the top with occasional breathing stops. We had 360° views, and named all the visible peaks. We had lunch on the top, Ray's sardines smelled fishy, and Ann's cookies were very popular. The subject of climbing another peak came up, but nothing simple existed in the nearby vicinity, so we climbed down from the rocky summit. We really enjoyed the soft, steep, sandy downhill run. Back at the cars we decided not to drive back through the dirt road, but take Hwy 178 and 14 to Jawbone Canyon to retrieve the passenger cars. We said good-bye and drove home after a very pleasant weekend.
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