Dry Mountain, Tin Mountain
By: Erik Siering
The rabbit lived. It would have been a bad scene to flatten a bunny first thing Easter morning. As Bob and I were racing past Ubehebe Crater towards the Tin Mtn trailhead on Sunday, the suicidal hare flung himself amidst Tom's wheels, with a resonating thump to the underchasis. Remarkably, it must have merely left him a ringing headache, as he loped off into the darkness.
The weekend had started in darkness early Saturday morning. We planned on 'shadowing' the Asher Waxman/Dan Richter DPS outing to the two classic northern Death Valley peak climbs. Reaching Stovepipe Wells considerably past midnight, we figured on a couple hours of slumber before continuing to the trailhead. Recommendation: do not try to camp on the airstrip! As the campground/tarmac (it really used to be the airstrip) was fully occupied by RV hordes, we pulled down the road a bit. A partial moon was all that the patrol ranger needed to ferret us out within the hour in a glare of headlights, forcing us to grumpily head north: as a result. we gathered a grand total of a half hour of sleep before setting out for Dry Mtn at daybreak.
The DPS caravan wound its way up the washboard road as Bob and I started across the flats. Dry went quickly by the standard route, capped by the pleasant discovery/consumption of a cool Pabst in the register canister (emergency provisions?). We had an excellent view westward of the Saline Valley Warm Springs (I could almost make out Fred's teepee...), Inyos and snow-laden Sierra. The large group of determined and friendly DPS'ers were encountered descending the ridge below the saddle. It was good to see several new faces in the crowd. Out Just past midday, we swung by Scotty's Castle for gas and fries, where we viewed the sights and otherwise admired the lithesome foreign tourists disembarking from the tour buses. The afternoon was spent lazing at Mesquite Springs listening to DV Ranger Dan D 's stories of tracking down errant burros. drug runners, pipe-bomb builders, and terrorist wannabes near Hunter Mtn. The DPS'ers arrived at sundown for a rousing, well-deserved happy hour.
Departing early from camp with some sleep, we set out hiking for Tin at daybreak under cool, cloudy skies. Parking at the standard trailhead was limited and later made it tight for the group. The solid ridge route up was a welcome change from the loose up/down/up/down hike of Dry. The previous party had left a man-made, biodegradable duck crowned with toilet paper-pretty tacky. Passing occasional patches of scattered snow among the pines, we summited at 8.00 to clearing skies. We found the DPS team approaching ridgetop as we descended rapidly. A brief tourist stop at the Ubehebe Crater, and to its scenic bottom (real fast down) less Bob, was timed with a warm thundershower that sent us on our way home to the Southland.
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