I find peak bagging to be an immensely fulfilling sport. A friend once commented that its uniqueness must be attributed to the fact that no two peaks are alike. While this is true, each peak is an adventure unto itself. Often finding your way along dusty back roads to get close enough to the peak so as not to waste a lot of time on the approach can be more challenging than the climb itself. Such is the case with the unranked peak before me now. Barely a blip on the otherwise level landscape with a rise of just 236’ feet.
However, getting even this close has been a test of patience and detailed GPS location maps. Three Peaks has “42 miles of OHV routes zigzag through Three Peaks’ 6,500 acres”. I feel like I have twisted and turned over most of them. From Cedar City, UT take Hwy-56 west, turning right at the “Y” or onto Iron Springs Road. Follow Iron Springs Road past Bowman’s Cowboy Kitchen, RV park and the Iron County waste and landfill. Shortly past the landfill turn right and follow the paved road toward the shooting range. The main peaks of Three Peaks are located on your right (east) and the road twists and turns following the contour of the mountainside. The pavement ends and a maintained gravel road continues. This is where you will need a GPS locator with enough detailed maps to get close. Four-wheel drive isn’t necessary for the route I took, but a higher than normal clearance vehicle probably is required as several sections of the route I followed was washed out in one track or the other. By and large, the trails are nice and well worn, smooth gravel, not quite sand covers the ground with only patches of rocky terrain. Twisting and turning (and often going in what appears to be the wrong direction) the series of trails eventually lead to the base of The Bald Hills - South.
Arriving at what appeared to be the closest point on the OHV trail to the summit point, I pulled my jeep off the trail and gathered my hiking pole and pack. The disturbed sagebrush smells wonderful in the still cool morning air, but it is warming up fast and I still have a couple more peaks I would like to get to this morning so I set off through the sagebrush and tall grass.
The walk is a gentle rise, with spots of lava rock plates devoid of any vegetation. I prefer to walk along the less vegetative routes as this is rattlesnake country and spotting a snake in the high grass can be difficult. I haven’t seen any this morning, but I keep an eye out and monitor the high points of the lava rock plates in case one is sunning itself after the cool evening. I soon arrive at the location provided by my GPS.
Many sites provide summit coordinates and I use several sites to pull my data from, but most are not exact. I wander around the high ridgeline trying to locate the exact coordinates on my GPS then wander south to a high rocky outcropping and note it indeed has a higher elevation reading on my GPS. I’m not a purist when it comes to these things, one of the sites I follow notes that “you must stand or touch the highpoint” to count the summit as being reached. On a ridgeline like this one, being near the “general” coordinates is going to have to suffice.
I take a moment to appreciate the raw beauty of the area. I probably won’t be back along this way. This is the eighth and final peak listed in The Three Peaks - UT quadrangle and with 177/213 remaining peaks to climb in Iron County alone, I’ll be moving along.