Maturango Peak Trip Report

Maturango Peak (8,839 ft)

Dates: April 24-25, 2004

Yet another desert peak on the California Fifty Finest list of prominent summits. Edward Earl and I drove up on Friday afternoon / evening in his pickup. Poor traffic around the "Inland Empire" (Riverside, San Bernardino) made for very slow going. We arrived at the wilderness boundary 10 p.m. - a full 6 3/4 hours after departing my home. Richard Carey and Gail Hanna were sleeping.

One drives north/northeast from Trona (Trona-Wildrose Road) to a turnoff for paved Nadeau Road after about fifteen miles. Six miles north along Nadeau Road and one finds a dirt road leading west. This road junction is located at (NAD27-based) GPS coordinates (469458 E, 3993457 N). The dirt road is blocked 3.5 miles later, so forcing one to park well before reaching the base of the range. A wash is crossed, from south to north side thereof, at about 2 miles west of the turnoff from Nadeau Road. The road is marginally passable to the recommended parking location with a high clearance vehicle in two-wheel drive. A passenger car would not make it.

I awoke at 5:30, around first light, and we were all uptrail with overnight packs at 7:12 a.m. The first 2 1/2 miles are west on a 4WD road, gradually ascending in elevation from the 3,050 ft carpark.

One then makes a sharp turn north, and, at 4,800 feet, one encounters the navigational crux of the effort - an impassible dry waterfall. To proceed, climb the scree slope to the south and immediately in front of the jeep trail - perhaps a 250 ft elevation gain. Then, a usetrail keeps one above the canyon floor, and trends west for a few hundred yards, meeting the canyon as the latter gradually gains elevation towards the west.

Two miles of travel along the canyon bottom is punctuated by nasty brush in narrowly defined locations. Usetrails divert around them by going upslope - only to descend to the canyon floor a few steps later.

At 6,400 feet the canyon splits. While waiting for Gail, I shared with Richard a novel treat of assorted flavored chocolates in much the way jelly beans come in multiple (twenty) flavors. We are talking cherry, orange, coconut, licorice, cappuccino, and even "juicy pear" - each the size of standard-issue M&Ms. Yum!!

Taking the north canyon split past a large cairn, we continued to a makeshift camp at 6,950 feet by about 1:20 p.m. - choosing that location because it was the most level we could find for the 4,000 feet of elevation gain contemplated for the day.

A lazy afternoon ensued. I ate my canned spaghetti mid-afternoon cold, without waiting for a stove to heat it a few hours later. The tomato sauce was refeshing in the hot day - and the flavor was considerably enhanced with my asiago cheese and fresh garlic.

The afternoon was highlighted by a communal appetizer spread, to which Gail, Richard and I contributed items. Best treat for me was some sherry wine, from Richard, into which I dunked chocolate almond biscotti. A most wonderful combination! Folks enjoyed my sunflower butter with assorted crackers. The raspberry/chocolate cookies were also delectable.

We were are in bed by about 8 p.m.

We arose, again at 5:50 a.m., and departed with daypacks (Richard, Gail) or nearly empty overnight packs (Edward, myself) at 6:29 a.m. The summit was achieved around 8:40 a.m. after an actual travel time of 1 hour 56 minutes.

Views were spectacular - especially with the High Sierra, still snowclad, to the northwest; Telescope Peak due east; and White Mountain way on the northern horizon.

There was not a summit register to be found! Most strange for a well-recognized DPS summit. I enjoyed a bagel with extra heavily smoked dried herring, cream cheese, and sliced onion. Gail shared a treat of dried fruit with candied pecans. We departed after perhaps forty-five minutes, and were back at camp 11 a.m.

Edward and I repacked, folded up my tent, and we were off at 11:48 a.m. We were back at the car by 3:05 p.m., with an actual travel time of 2 hours 56 minutes. I kept up with Edward's downhill stride in part by having coffee with my Frosted Flakes before leaving camp.

We enjoyed the drive home, this time without bad traffic. Edward got his 44-ounce soft drink, and I enjoyed a pint of chocolate ice cream (number 1,503 in my collection), with mix-ins saved from the appetizer feast.

Estimated round-trip is eighteen miles, including seven miles to high camp and two miles from there to the summit. Net elevation was 5,800 feet. Total gain was some 6,000 vertical feet.