Grapevine Peak, Mount Palmer
By: Charlie Knapke, John Cheslick
These two peaks are done from the same trailhead. Grapevine is in Nevada while Palmer is in California. Both are inside the boundaries of the Death Valley National Park. The park boundary appears to be unchanged. The sign was posted in the same spot it was the last time I did these peaks.
The dirt road into the trailhead is about twenty miles long. On the section outside of the park, it is common to see wild burros. This trip was no exception. We saw a herd of about 20-25 burros crossing the road ahead of us. Once they think you're not following them anymore, they stop, turn & stare back. It is amazing how well they blend into the desert when they are not moving. After some difficulties with low clearance vehicles and dropping off a 2WD vehicle at our intended campsite, we reached the trailhead much later than intended. After considering the remaining daylight, we decided to do the shorter peak (Grapevine) first. The route out to this peak is fairly simple and we reached the peak a little before noon. On the return trip we ran into Park Ranger David Brenner. We stopped for a talk with David and I learned a few interesting items.There have been no changes to the status of the road into the trailhead. In fact, it is open past the 4WD saddle and down into the next canyon as far as the state line.
The contested placement of a repeater on Dry Mountain has occurred. The repeater has been placed on a ridge of Dry Mountain. Dave would not say which ridge but he said it was a temporary type installation with no foundation. It is hidden on three sides by vegetation and was painted to blend into the area.
He told me that the road into Goler wash could close at any time. As a result of the Desert Bill, a company in lower Panamint Valley was granted the right to "strip mine about ten miles of the face of the mountain" in this area. This company controls access to this road. He also mentioned a person who stays at the cabin at the base of the Manly Peak route. This person is a V.I.P. observer who reports to the park service but is NOT a ranger. The rangers refer to him as "Wild Bill". They have had reports of him carrying a gun. If anyone observes this, they are urged to contact the park service immediately. We talked about several other things but these seemed to be the most important.
We returned to the trailhead where we met George Pfieffer. George had tried to do Palmer but was not feeling well. He decided to forego the party and head for home. We returned to camp where we introduced some of the participants to a DPS type happy hour.
We woke very early on Sunday and drove up to the trailhead again arriving shortly after dawn. Palmer is a "non trivial" hike. While the gain is only about 3,000' gross, the route entails much side hill travel and a lot of up & down. Kathy Crandell and Donna Cheslick elected to stay back and look for alternative entertainment. We made good time out to the peak and arrived about 11:00 a.m. The view was good. There seemed to be considerable snow in the Sierra's but much of that may have been from the previous year. The return trip was faster by at least an hour. We then went back to camp and loaded the vehicles for the long dirt road out to the highway. I arrived in Orange County just before midnight while some people stayed in the area to do more peaks.
The participants were Donna Cheslick, Tom Neely, Bill Ramsey, Pete Yamagata (Sacramento), Rich Gnagy (Sacramento), Kathy Krandall (Placerville), Ruth von Rotz (Reno), & Andrew Giger (Carson City).
Web editor's note: The possible closing of Goler wash was later refuted by Steve Smith at a DPS general meeting.
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