Granite Mountains #2
By: Igor & Suzanne Mamedalin
The trip to climb Granite and Big Maria mountains was rescheduled due to a conflicting engagement with the original date. This reduced the group size to eight eager desert rats who met early Saturday morning at junction of highway 177 and Palen Pass road. The morning arose sunny and beautiful, a contrast the El N i h o downpours encountered on Friday night's drive out to the desert.
The entourage consisting of 3 trucks, one 4WD Subaru and one low slung Nissan Sentra, tackled the Palen Pass road to reach the intended trailhead for Granite's Route A. With expert driver Brian Smith at the helm, the S e n t r a negotiated deep sands and detours resulting from washouts along Palen Pass road. After turning off on a 4WD spur near some mine tailing at the pass, the Sentra (as pictured in the photograph taken by Neal Scott) had some difficulty negotiating large boulders in the stream bed. To spare the Sentra we stopped short of the trailhead and proceeded on a direct route for the apparent summit.
Heading directly for the summit from where we left the cars was not the wisest navigational decision ever made. After reaching the ridge of the Granite Mountains we observed that the actual summit was about a mile away necessitating a traverse along the rough ridge. Nonetheless, everyone made a summit to enjoy a late lunch and watch the advance armies of El Nino clouds drift across the desert from the northwest toward us. Dropping directly into a canyon from the summit we negotiated a few minor waterfalls and a walk across the desert toward our car (passing the real trailhead about a mile away from where we parked).
Everyone reached the cars by last light of the day and just as the first drops of the new storm began to pitterpatter. Despite the moisture we attempted to have a nice camp fire and hors'd'euvers.
Sunday morning it was still drizzling as we ate headed out from our camp spot. Regaining the Palen Pass road we continued east past Inca toward the Big Maria Mountains. The dirt road improved as we approached the turnoff for the Big Maria trailhead but the weather did not. After a brief "what do we all wanna do" consultation the group ended up in a coffee shop in Blythe eating a sumptuous breakfast. Big Maria can be climbed on a better day! After breakfast everyone headed home on I- 10.
Many thanks to a spirited and Committed group of participants: Brian Smith, Maria Freeman, Richard Whitcomb, Neal Scott, David Baldwin and Elaine Baldwin.
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