Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Striped Mountain

I recently hiked Striped Mountain.  Don't be impressed.  I'm not referring to the 13k foot peak in the Sierras.  I hiked a small hill in the Mojave Desert named Striped Mountain.  It's not even listed in the popular peak bagging websites.

Striped Mountain is south of I-15 in California near the Nevada border.  It's very near the famous Kokoweef Peak, which allegedly sits atop a fortune in gold.  It's also very near the big rare earth metals mining operation by Molycorp at Mountain Pass.  Here's a google map centered on Striped Mountain.  It's a nice little hill.

If you have a decent 4wd truck, you can drive part way up on an old mining shelf road.  It's pretty flat and stable but steep.

Here's a shot of the hill from the end of the 4wd road.

The next shot looks down from the summit to that road.

Looking south, you can see Kessler Peak, Teutonia Peak, and the broad bulging Cima Dome.

Kokoweef is seen to the north.  That hill is one of the most famous lost gold discoveries in California.  There's allegedly a fortune in placer gold under that peak in black sands that line the bottom and ledges of a huge underground canyon.

There are many old mining claim posts in the area.  On previous visits to the area I'd opened some of them to look at the claim forms.

I wanted a short hike to test my new hiking boots (Timberland Washington Summit Gore-Tex).  Good thing too.  They did not fit well.  My toes and forefeet kept moving around in the large toe boxes of the boots.  I was really worried that I'd get blisters and I was eager to finish the hike and get them off.  I also noticed that my ankle rolled a lot when stepping on rocks.  That was disconcerting.  The boots don't appear to have as much ankle support as other boots I've owned, and I might twist an ankle while hiking in them.

I hadn't tried these boots on before buying them.  Instead I relied on my experience with my previous Timberland boots that fit very well.  So well, I was sad when they started falling apart - mostly from the lava rocks in the desert.

While I was in the area, I decided to drive up the dirt road to the "trailhead" parking area for hiking Mescal Mountain, just to the north of Striped.  That's it in the photo above with the nearly vertical sedimentary stripes.  A 2wd high clearance vehicle can make it that far, but beyond that the road gets very rugged.  Andy Zdon reports in his book "Desert Summits" that the route is to walk up the 4wd road to the ridgeline and then hike along that ridge to the eventual summit.  I'll return some day to hike that one when the temps are cool and I have better fitting boots.

I drove back past Kokoweef to the highway and noticed a lot of new construction at the Molycorp mine area at Mountain Pass.  It looks like the rare earth mineral business has been very good to Molycorp.


Anonymous said...

Your blogs are great.
Maybe you could put all your OHV stuff together, so they'd be easier to locate?
I just got a Nissan Xterra Pro4x, so I'm looking to hit the 395 corridor (Sierra + Inyo) + DV areas over the next few years.
I'm always looking for practical advice: how much you air-down your tires, through the window vids, vehicle mods, etc.
BTW: your other topics from Michael Lewis, burgers, books, etc. are interesting, too.
Walnut Creek, CA

Michael said...

Thanks for the nice feedback! Sorry for the jumble of topics. I did start a separate blog dedicated to mechanical problems with my Rover. I'll have to give some thought to your idea about advice/tips. I've certainly learned a lot from many resources over the years.