I mentioned in my last post that I have been out sick the past 10 days or so, I also mentioned getting caught up in updating my goals and reviewing my areas of passion and excitement. Well today I was feeling well enough to get out for a few hours and go hiking. Better yet, peak bagging. I’ve probably mentioned it before but "Peak bagging or hill bagging is an activity in which hikers, climbers, and mountaineers attempt to reach a collection of summits, published in the form of a list. The activity was popularized in Scotland in the 1890s with the creation of the Munro list by Sir Hugh Munro."(1). I don’t settle on just one list as some hikers do and work at the list until complete, I take what peak I can get when I can get it and more than often I simply keep track of the peaks I have completed according to the quadrangle to which they belong.
Three Peaks Recreation Area is a “fantastic location for outdoor recreation” of the primarily motorized kind. They have 27 miles of mountain bike trail system, but the 42 miles of ATV trails loop and cover almost every square inch of the place. Unfortunately not everyone who enjoys this backyard playground is as thoughtful in keeping it well kept and clean for the next group. Of the 8 peaks that make up the quadrangle, this will be my final climb in the Three Peaks Recreation Area proper with these short but fun ascents of the North and South Summits. Both are non-ranked and carry rises below 300’. I generally carry a couple plastic bags to pick up any trash I find on my hikes, but even that wasn’t enough to clean up one campsite near the Three Peaks South summit which included busted down plastic chairs and large cardboard sections.
It’s a shame because these short little peaks are fun to scramble around on. The unique granite outcroppings create just enough route finding to keep it interesting and provide solid footing if you need to climb a section. From Midvalley Rd head west and stay all the way until you arrive at the main Three Peaks sign. To scramble these peaks, stay on Midvalley Rd until the pavement ends, and then follow the signs to group camping. This main gravel road twists and turns through juniper trees heading south. The group camping sites are very well set up as are the individual camp site that are available. From there you will need high clearance or an ATV. Four wheel drive is probably not needed, but it is sandy in spots. A map doesn’t help much, but you can pick and choose between ATV trails and work fairly close to the base of each peak.
I love desert peaks, wide open spaces and just small elevation gains result in beautiful views in every direction. I sat and enjoyed the morning sun, still cool enough with the light breeze blowing. I linger just enough to enjoy a bottle of water and start the scramble down. I choose a different path this time down the wash instead of following the ATV trail to the high saddle. Back at my jeep I turn around and head back to the main trail. I can hear another jeep moving in the area, it is close, but the Juniper trees are too thick. Turning left I head north along this main ATV artery. The jeep pulls in behind me from an off shoot trail and disappears again just as fast along another minor trail heading east. I keep an eye on my GPS and gage a good location to park my jeep for the second ascent.
I park just off the main road and begin a diagonal ascent toward a ridge line, from this angle the ridge line appears to circle toward the summit, just ending a few hundred feet below the summit cap. I follow a well pronounced animal trail and am not surprised when I top out on the ridge and find a well worn ATV trail. I follow this trail to its end. A circular trail around a large Juniper tree and a well worn path heading toward the summit. The trail spiders after about 50 feet and I choose to follow the steeper ravine to the left between a series of the granite outcropping this area is known for. This proves to be a good choice and a well worn path soon emerges in the ravine. I glance over the granite rib to see a drop off of about 30’ feet. A wicked looking trail follows the base of the rib and I’m glad I choose the high road. The rib soon gives away to a rocky ridge line and the summit is a small rocky out cropping.
I linger a bit longer at this second peak and drink more water. It is after 11:30 am and it is starting to warm up. This will be my last peak for today, but I look north and west a little to find The Bald Hills South, and my final peak of this quadrangle. It is also a non-ranked peak and not usually something I would worry about logging an ascent or not, but leaving one easy peak on the list seems a little unproductive. Maybe I do settle on a list and work to its completion after all.