Pilot Knob, Owens Peak, Five Fingers
By: David Eisenberg
Leaders: David Eisenberg, Don Borad
We met at the Walker Pass Campground at 6:30 am. Unknown to us, Patty Kline's Heald/Nichols group was meeting at the same time and place. I took this opportunity to try out my new flashing yellow light. (Which had been bought to help me find my car in the dark after those long winter hikes.) Bill T. Russell showed up at the meeting place and joined us for the day.
We then caravanned down to the trailhead on the Stone Ranch. Ms. Josephine Stone was very prompt and cooperative about granting permission to park on her property. We crossed the bridge and began hiking at about 7:00 am. There is the beginning of a fairly good use trail along this route. We reached the summit in time for a good lunch and fantastic views.
32 hikers showed up for this trip, presenting quite a challenge keeping the group together. We had to regroup several times when the group lost temporary contact. The patience of all was greatly appreciated. In spite of all delays, we returned to the cars at 3:30 pm. 22 of us caravanned over to the 2 Sisters restaurant in Inyokern. The food was excellent and the quantity was the best part. (They have a buffet.) Those staying over then headed for Powers Well which was our camping spot and meeting place. Bill T., Lew Amack, Bob Baird, Rick Flemming, Fred Johnson Jr., Duane McRuer, Rosina Mueller, Carleton Shay, Pete Doggett, and Bryce and Wilma Wheeler all signed out as all they needed was Pilot knob leaving 22 for Owens. Keats Hayden Joined us for Sunday' Hike.
We got a good start at the trailhead at 7:30 and enjoyed the pleasant trail along the first part of the route. Following the peak ' guide, we continued along the ducked route once the trail came onto the rock. Unknown to us, someone had moved the ducks to point to the white colored chute on the right instead of the grey colored rocks on the left. We knew we were in trouble when the ducks disappeared, the slope grew steeper, and the rocks got looser. I bunched up the group to avoid injury from rockfall, (Earlier this summer, there was a near miss with a rock on this peak.) putting the slower hikers in the front. Continuing up, we found that the chute ended in a box canyon at the top with 3rd and 4th class rock at the headwall. There were several M rated leaders on the trip. They were dispatched as scouts to find a route safe enough for all. Don finally found a safe route by dropping down about 50' and climbing over the rocks to the left of the chute. This is definitely a fim route if the group is small and experienced.
After our legs stopped shaking, we continued up to the summit, passing the correct route only 20' from were we came up!
On our return, we followed the correct route down. We destroyed the erroneous ducks, and repaired the correct ones at the place we went wrong. Returning to the cars, we discovered that only Roy Stewart wanted to bag Aquila! We made short work of it, Ascending in 1 hour, and descending in 20 minutes while my rider, George Schroedter, waited in my truck. At the summit block, Don and I investigated a 4th class route up while Roy took the standard route.
On the way back to LA, we stopped at Graziano's in Mojave. This fine restaurant is well worth allotting time for. Patty Kline came in to join us after 1/2 hour.
Other participants were Jane Edgington, Barbara and Howard Eyerly, Bill Gray, Jack Haddad, Jerry and Pat Holleman, Fred Johnson, Julie King, Dorothy Pallas, Chuck Sale, Mark Scofield, Maggie Singleton, Larry Tidwell, Mike Wilson, and Anne and Bob Wright.
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