www.MountainHiker.org

Hiking Stats as of 11/21/2018
Total Trips:
Total Distance:
Total Elevation Gain:
 325
 3,891.68 miles
 1,060,050 feet

Feb 18, 2015 - Devils Peak / Carmel, Mount

 

Partners: (None)

Distance: 9.45 miles

Elevation Gain: 3,077 feet

Trip Time: 3:41

Maps and Stats:
I had left my camera at home for my trip to Monterey, and somehow messed up on my camera phone which wound up not having any pictures when I got back to the hotel following this outing...not a big loss, since it was night anyway and I had only tried to take a dozen or so photos .

Today was the first day of my Monterey conference, and while I was fortunate to be in an area where I could pick up some new peaks, I was limited to hiking during the non desirable hours of the very early AM or late PM. Knowing that any pursuit of CC peaks would require at least an hour of round trip driving and a few hours of hiking, the early AM option was out. So night hiking it would have to be. The conference let out on Wednesday at 5 PM, and I quickly changed clothes and drove south on Hwy 1 towards Bottchers Gap, a large campground area about 15 miles east along a windy, paved road off of Hwy 1. I arrived a few minutes before 6 PM, still with a bit of sunlight left in the day. Larry, the longtime resident caretaker/ranger in the area (over 20 years on this assignment) met me as I was packing my stuff and asked what my plan was. I told him Mt. Carmel was the goal, being a CC listed peak, and I would tag Devils Peak while I was at it since it is a very short side trip on the way to Mt. Carmel. Larry didn't think much of this idea, saying that the normal hiking time for this trip was 6 hours in daylight, and that a fast time was 5 hours. He said this would put me out until midnight, not good idea at all. I told him I should be able to do it in 4 hours, unless the trail was in bad condition which would be tough for me to manage at night. He said the trail to Devils Peak was good, but it was off trail to Mt. Carmel. I told him that I felt I could still do it and be back by 10 PM, and that if my car was still there in the morning to send the cavalry. He said that I would have to be missing longer than that for anyone to come find me, but since I was only joking when I made the request I didn't worry about his response. Larry informed me that since I was not camping and it was no longer daytime that I did not need to pay the $5 day use fee, which was nice of him. I suppose if I did get stranded overnight he might have changed his mind however....

As I started off I parted by telling him that if that if I didn't see him later that night when I got back to the car that I would see him in a couple of days, as I planned to come back to hike Pico Blanco on Friday, a much longer and more challenging hike. This was a grave error on my part, and he asked if I knew that Pico was on private property. Now this is actually true I suppose, but only in the strictest interpretation, since the peak is owned by a mining company who is not actually mining anything due to land use restrictions, there are no boundary markers anywhere, the peak is hiked frequently, and according to Larry the Boy Scouts are permitted to hike the peak freely. Larry continued on with the trespassing lecture, telling me about a guy named Bob Burd who had been out this way not too long ago, and was caught trespassing (not on Pico Blanco but on a peak where someone actually lives) and that the landowner was so mad that he called Larry and told him to deal with Bob once he drove him down to the ranger station. I knew most of this story already but after my previous lapse in judgment when discussing such obviously sensitive matters I pretended to be appalled by Bob's actions, and vowed that I would not be attempting anything of the sort, certainly not tonight and maybe I might not even attempt Pico Blanco on Friday after all. These were the magic words and I was free to go.

So after talking for a good 15 minutes which used up what little daylight remained, I finally got going, using my flashlight that I had bought from Safeway the night before. The trail was easy enough to follow, well defined and well graded. A little over 2 miles in I hit a ridge and then descended down to a flat area before starting up the climb to Devils Peak. In this area I saw a light ahead, and it turned out to be a camper who had started a small fire. I talked to him for a few minutes, he had stopped her since he didn't have a headlamp and was going to spend the night. I told him I was going to go bag Carmel and I'd be back this way in a couple of hours. He said I was "pretty cool" for night hiking and off I went. The hillside up to Devils Peak was not heavily forested, and with my flashlight I had an easy time following the trail up the scrubby hillside. A little under 4 miles (and a bit over 1.5 hours) in I was near the summit of Devils Peak, although it was a bit hard to figure out exactly where the highpoint was in the dark. I had to bumble around, using my GPS, to find the right contour and found the highest rocks up on a little bump off the trail.

From there I found a sign indicating that Mt. Carmel was a little less than a mile away. The presence of the sign was very encouraging to me, as I took it to mean there was probably trail, or else why would it be signed? I couldn't find the trail at first, however, and I figured I was stuck going cross country. But within a couple of minutes I found myself on the trail, and surprisingly the trail was extremely well maintained, with only a few places where branches even encroached upon the space. I had no trouble at all following the path, which went through very tall bushes for the most part, and smaller trees in other places. The path was like a tunnel, with the brush to the sides and overhead, but it was that much easier to follow because of this. I emerged in a very small clearing barely over 2 hours into the hike, and there was a 10 -12 foot rockpile I ascended as the obvious highpoint. There was a benchmark on the rocks on the way up, but I could not locate any register. I spent a few minutes up here enjoying the serenity. I do not recall seeing much in the way of lights at all, just open space and mountains all around. On descent I did not reascend the small bump on Devils Peak, and jogged down to the flat area where the camper was located. Only he was gone now. I'm not sure if he wasn't supposed to be out there (a permit is required for camping and for fires) and perhaps he thought I wasn't so cool after all and was worried I would report him. The rest of the trip back was uneventful, using my cheapo flashlight which kept flickering off and on was a bit of a nuisance but the trail was well defined. I wound up making the 9.5 mile, 3,000+ ft elevation gain in about 3 hours and 40 minutes, a pace which was well beyond my expectations. I purposefully was noisy in getting back to my car, taking my time loading up the car and making sure to open and close my doors a few times hoping Larry would come out to see I had bested his prediction by so much time. That didn't work, so I started the car and turned on the headlights, and waited another couple of minutes thinking the sudden illumination of the area would prompt a visit. No such luck, however, and so I left, and I would have to wait until Friday for my next encounter with Larry. I was back at the Hotel around 10:30, not too bad at all.

Add Comment

    
 

No Comments