Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Another Cinder Cone Hike

I hiked two more of the cinder cones in the Mojave Desert lava field south of Baker in southern California.  I found a US government web page about these cinder cones.  The USGS says these cones began erupting about 7.6 million years ago and continued until at least 10,000 years ago.

I combined two cones into one hike because it required me to drive the 4wd trails in that area and I don't enjoy driving on the lava-rock trails.  It's only a matter of time before I get a blowout and have to change a tire on that uneven terrain.  

I'm actually surprised that I haven't yet had a flat tire there.  I'm currently running Cooper Tire Discoverer AT3s.  They show very little damage from all the lava miles I've put on them.  I'm impressed.

To be fair, the three 4wd trails entering/exiting the area only have lava over short distances.  As the photos show, the interior area is all sandy and the roads are sandy with the occasional embedded lava boulder and plenty of creosote brush.

I first hiked the shorter one on the right in the image above.

I decided to just walk up the old mining roads.  The sides of these cones are at the edge of stability.  They're very steep and stepping on them causes a lot of stuff to start sliding downhill.

Here's a photo of the 2nd (taller) cone taken from the top of the smaller one.

The next shot looks south toward my car.  I hiked the large cone on the left last month (here's the post).

The summit basin is more convoluted on this cone.

For anyone interested in hiking these extinct volcanos, they're seen on the USGS 7.5 Quad for California named Indian Spring.  Here's a cropped portion of that topo map.

On this day I hiked peaks 1056, 1095, and 1103 on the first cone and 1143 on the second cone.  I didn't continue on to the true summit of the second cone (1147) because I was running out of water and needed to turn back.  I realized after examining the route in Google Earth that continuing would have been the shorter route.  Did I mention that I was almost out of water?  That, and another thing, was impacting my ability to think clearly.

I was hoping to drive the old 4wd trail between the two cones and hike from some mid-point.  Unfortunately, that road has been closed off by the park service so I had to park on the main 4wd trail in the broad sandy wash.  You can see from my GPS log that I hiked up and down that old 4wd trail.  That made crossing the open desert much easier and safer.  You can see the road in the next photo as I approached the second cone.

The weather conditions were good.  It was about 98F with a breeze strong enough that I needed to cinch down my hat.  The entire hike took less than 3 hours.  When my 3 liter hydration pack went dry, I was over a mile from my car.  That's one of two mistakes I made on this hike.  I should have worn my backpack (instead of a small Camelbak) so I could carry 5+ liters of water.  The other mistake will be explained in the next post.

The ramps up the side of the cone are narrow on this cone.

The top is a catch basin for blowing sand.

Here's a shot from the top looking southwest.  I hiked the cinder cone on the left last October and the cone on the right last September.  Old Dad Mountain is visible in the distance, as is Cowhole Mountain.  I've hiked both of those (Old Dad Hike and Cowhole Mountain Hike).

The long ramp traversing the south face got narrow in places with the occasional fallen boulder.

Leaving the area, I decided to exit to the south, along a 4wd trail I've previously described.  It's an easy trail, except for a 10 meter section near the end.  

It's obviously been improved by other 4wd enthusiasts.  Several of the smaller boulders have been moved around.  I still decided to take the alternate around that mess.

Here's a Google Earth screencap showing my 4wd route for this adventure.  I entered the area from the west and exited to the south.  I've driven all sections of this route in the past.  You see the little blip in the route at the edge of the lava flow where I took the alternate.

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