Signal Peak, Castle Dome Peak
By: Tina Bowman
Saturday morning ambled up Palm Canyon toward Signal peak (Kofa),, while I read aloud the brochure provided by the Kofa National Wildlife Preserve. We saw the palms from a distance and continued up the canyon to the more serious climbing. The forty-five foot third class: pitch has one rather tenuous spot in it, where a rope is a nice thing. Doug had climbed the peak the day before solo and left a rope in place at the pitch, which he climbed again and belayed the participant and co-leader, Doug and Tom went straight up the pitch, and the contrary co-leader went off to the left and across the standard traverse. On up we went to a rather lengthy stay on the summit, somewhat out of the wind, which had started puffmg about the time we were doing the belayed climbing. I was happy to leave an ammo box on the summit to replace the one that had disappeared; the register book and plastic box placed by Greg Vernon in November were still there but not the box. Funny how those things seem to grow feet or wings. The return the the cars went well.
We drove south for Castle Dome. The turn for Castle Dome is marked by a Kofa Wildlife Refuge sign for Castle Dome with no mention of the Yuma Proving Grounds. The first two miles of road are paved. The Hull Mine of the guide is now a museum about nine miles from highway 95. We camped near there and had a few sprinkles after dinner that didn't last long.
Sunday morning we were hiking up the wash a little after 6:34, having more light rain after a mile or so. We continued trudging up the wash and out of it to get some exercise--none of us wanted to climb Castle Dome when it was wet--and the rain departed. Having to hunt at times for the ducks, we followed the standard route and a trail of bighorn sheep scat and then lounged about on the summit for forty-five minutes while Doug filled in names and corrected mistranscriptions from an old register. We zigged and zagged back down and eventually out to the wash. We saw and heard several phainopeplas flitting about in the palo verde trees and enjoyed some small poppies and early lupines and other flowers in the wash. The ocotillo was blooming as well to make for a fine lowdesert experience. We left western Arizona through the blight of Quartzsite. West of ever-lovely Blythe we started having rain, ever increasing all the way home. We had made another good choice of a weekend to be in the desert!
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