Hunter Mountain, Tin Mountain
By: Igor and Suzanne Thomas-Mamedalin
After a long drive Friday night, the leaders hurried to meet the trip participants at Ubehebe Crater early Saturday morning. The trip was put together with the intention of climbing one listed peak, Tin, (needed by Suzanne) and then exploring the road south to the Race Track and Hunter Mtn. To keep Comet, our dog, company, the trip was also declared to be a "'K-9's welcome" occasion and Julie Rush's dog Ruskie accepted the invitation. Driving south from Ubehebe Crater for about 10.5 miles and trying to find a 'pull-out' along the dirt road we drove perhaps a half-mile too far before finding one. From our spot on the road we headed northeast toward an obvious canyon and then gained the prominent southwestern ridge heading to the summit area. This was the leader's 3rd ascent of Tin and route finding was a piece of cake! Lunch was had at the summit as we enjoyed spectacular views across Death Valley National Monument. Ruskie, Julie's dog, carried a doggy pack to the top. Comet, our dog, was of course envious. Before heading down from the summit, Comet offered to relieve Ruskie of the pack. However, after a brief but spirited brawl with Comet, Ruskie prevailed and proudly carried his doggy pack on down.
From Tin we drove on south to Tea Kettle junction and then to the (Devil's) Race Track. Here we proceeded to walk across the perfectly smooth dry lake to the Grandstand, a rock island near the middle of the dry lake. The Grandstand is actually the tip of a submerged peak and a unique geological formation. To our disappointment we did not observe any eerie movement of rocks across the lake surface. However, in the interest of scientific discovery, we placed a few rock specimens on the lake surface with the intent of charting their course across the lake in the future. From the Race Track we headed for the campsite near Lippincott Lead Mine where we camped for the night. Being outside the Monument boundary, we were able to enjoy a campfire fueled with wood carted from the city.
Sunday morning we retraced our tracks to Tea Kettle Junction (yes, there are dozens of tea kettles attached to the junction sign) and then south on the road through Hidden Valley. Due to general disinterest and warm temperatures we decided not to climb/explore Ubehebe Peak. After stopping at a talc mine and a spring we were ready for the ascent of Hunter Mtn. From the Hunter Mtn. road, the summit is less than an hour away; however the view of Saline Valley from there is rewarding. Lunch was consumed in a mild breeze on the summit before returning to the cars. Alas, end of trip and everyone headed home. The leaders followed Julie's Izuzu to Olancha as it coasted downhill on fumes alone.
The roads traversed on this trip were ail passable to good high clearance vehicles, 4WD was not required. Many thanks to everyone that joined us on this adventure!
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