Tag Archives: desert

Peak Bagging Soda Mountain

MOHAVE DESERT

Activity: Peak Bagging, Trail Blazing, Scrambling, Camping

Distance: Approximately 8 miles, altitude 3661’, prominence 1,781’, 2,168’ elevation gain, duration 7 hours, rated Hard

Date: March 4-5, 2020

While not particularly high in elevation at 3,661 feet above sea level it is all about the prominence with Peak Baggers. That is why the few, the adventurous, the Peak Baggers are interested in this location. Otherwise it is a lonely, desolate, rugged place and there is nothing particularly fun about the trek, and there is no reason anyone would climb Soda Mountain other than because it is there, and the ‘Prom Factor’.

Prominence

  1. A position of exalted widely recognized grandeur.
  2. A natural land elevation that stands out above it’s surroundings.
  3. The vertical distance from which the summit rises above the lowest point between two summits.

In many ways prominence, as an alternate measurement of a peak or mountain, is more interesting than it’s elevation.

I joined Hall of Fame Peak Bagger Keith Christensen once again seeking some life balance in this otherwise crazy mixed up world, in other words we found ourselves ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’ in the Mohave Desert. This was day two of our excursion and I invite you to checkout day one: Cave Mountain. After completing our quest to stand atop Cave Mountain we headed toward Soda Mountains. It required some 4 wheeling to get to the wash that would serve as the closest thing to a trailhead. Hint there is no trailhead in the middle of the frick’n desert when you are hiking an area no one would go to, to climb a craggy, jagged, rocky mountain that no one would climb… no one except a Peak Bagger. I will tell you what, on these desolate desert peaks there are only a few peak baggers there a year. So when you stand on top of Soda Mountain, you are one of a small number that has ever set foot there, which of course is part of the allure. Peak Baggers aren’t here to recreate they are here for the hard-core.

After a backpacking dinner, we enjoyed the twilight and the silhouette of the mountains against the ever darkening desert sky, and then called it a night to get an early start in the morning.

It was a cool morning, but with the rising sun it was quickly warming up. We headed out along about 3 miles of sandy wash and canyon area that had many twists and turns to it such that we really did not get a look at our objective until we were right before it.

Hiking through a wash toward our destination Soda Mt High Point.

Now we would be picking a route, looking for a way up, ascending the steep incline of broken rock. During the climb my foot became trapped between a proverbial, and I assure you quite literal, rock and a hard place. It was only all those workouts I have been doing that kept me from a full face plant as I caught myself in a push up position with my nose to the grind stone.

In a section where we were doing a bit of scrambling Keith surprised a large lizard about the size of a chipmunk, which is exactly what I though it was at first. The fleeing reptile was headed right at my face until he saw me and ducked into the rocks. We think it was a Chuckwalla, but there are Gila Monsters in the Mohave as well.

Photo of Chuckwalla credit to NPS.

Hands worked, bloody shin, tired feet and all I arrived at the summit with a smile. While I surveyed the desert scene from aloft Keith checked out the register in an old can to see how many names he might recognize.

Summit of Soda Mt.

The view from the summit was quite amazing with a pretty diverse landscape. On one side was canyon with pale colors, in another direction black mountains rising out of golden sand, and yet another mocha chocolate hills. After a snack, a drink, and a little reflection it was time to head down.

As I carefully picked my way down the rocky slope I became separated from Keith who with a quicker pace had dropped down out of sight, and had taken a right under a large rock outcropping. Not seeing this I continued down the chute. I whistled to find his location, but heard no response. I was thinking he can’t be that far ahead, but he had wrapped around more to the right as I was still going down the chute. After signaling every so often I finally hear a hoot and after awhile we reconnect. He had not heard my previous whistles. There was a point that I thought I would be hiking back to Keith’s Jeep alone.

Another successful summit by the intrepid explorer Peak Bagger Keith Christensen as he heads down with the desert wash below.

One side note that I will mention about this outing was that it took place just before that Covid-19 Pandemic Crisis. After 2 or 3 months had gone by I went to Keith Christensen’s Peak Bagger Page to see if he had continued to bag peaks since I had last seen him. While I had continued to go on hikes and even a little peak bagging I saw that Keith had not slowed down one iota. During this time frame he had bagged almost 60 more peaks. That is simply amazing.

“The road less traveled is the road to adventure!”

This type of an adventure is pretty amazing and rather unique. Not your everyday trek, which makes it pretty cool, and hiking with my Hobie Cat Champion sailing friend, Keith Christensen, who just happens to take part in this craziness of Peak Bagging, and at a very high level I might add, is always an adventure! Thanks for joining us ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’ while peak bagging hidden away desert mountains. Take a moment and LIKE, COMMENT, FOLLOW, and SHARE. You may or may not be excited about Peak Bagging in the middle of the frick’n desert, but I am positive you can find a hike that will get you off the couch with all of the locales that PBTA ventures to- just review the menu above. Each location is a separate website and thus needs to be FOLLOWED independently. Checkout my cap in the picture. Like it? Want one? Click here: SHOP APPAREL.

Happy Trails, (Well in this case there was no trail, but you catch my drift…)

Roger Jenkins

Pursuing Balance Through Adventure

Lava Tubes

Mojave National Preserve, California

“Bathing in His Light”

Activity: Spelunking (sorta)
Date: April 17, 2019
Distance .05 Mile, 62’ elevation change, rated Easy

I had not been to Mojave National Preserve before, but after my trip there I can tell you it will not be my last.

The Lava Tubes are off of paved road, but the final 5 miles is rough washboard dirt road with some volcanic rock thrown in a couple places for good measure. Once you park it is a short distance to the Lava Tubes.

I suggest that you bring a head lamp as you crawl into a hole in the ground, the dark portion isn’t very long, but a little light goes a long ways in making you feel more comfortable. There is a low spot where you need to crawl on your hands and knees. So when you hit your head it won’t be that bad because with the light at least you can say oh yeah I knew that was there.

When you enter the cavern with the light beaming in it is truly a feeling of am I really seeing this? I have never seen light do this except in an art gallery, and I will tell you the pictures I saw on my hiking app were no where as cool as what I saw and the pictures you see here. So I don’t know if I was lucky or just there at the right time. You need to be there around noon for the light to shine through the sky light openings just right.

I can’t say it was a spiritual feeling, because there were other people there probably about 8 of us on a weekday enjoy what was undeniably an amazing sight. But looking at these pictures now it’s definitely lifts the spirit.

The map shows the Cinder Cone Lava Beds and Lava Tube under the title Mojave.
This map shows the proximity of the lava tubes, which is the large two tone dot under Mojave Wilderness, and Baker, CA. There is paved road from Baker, but the last 5 miles to the Lava Tube is rough dirt road.
Heavenly Light
Ladder going back out from the lava tube.
“The danger of adventure is worth a thousand days of ease and comfort.” – Paulo Coelho

The Mojave National Preserve is a fun place to explore, and the light in the lava tube was a Life Experience. Thanks for joining me ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure.’ There are sister sites categorized by area in the menu above (each needs to be followed individually). Lots of adventures, lots more to come, so please for the sake of your Balance: LIKE, COMMENT, FOLLOW, and SHARE. If you would like to support PBTA then check out the fine SHOP APPAREL for top quality adventure wear.

Happy Trails,

Roger Jenkins, Pursuing Balance Through Adventure