A Whale of a time

24-26 Mar 2003 - by Will Mollandsimms

After two terrific days wandering through the scenic Rockhouse canyon and visiting the ruins and spring which reside there my partner, Kate Doehring, and I decided to try something more exciting and climb Whale peak. We headed south on the S2, also known as the Great Southwestern Overland Stage Route of 1849. Soon we cut off onto a dirt road that skirted through the desert and into Little Blair Valley. We reached the end of the road late in the day. We set out at the trailhead that advertises Pictographs 1 mile and after a brief one-mile backpack by the rather lackluster pictographs we set up camp and got a good nights rest.

The next morning we arose with beautiful blue skies and a fairly brisk wind blowing. From our camp situated a few hundred yards north of the pictographs we headed towards the canyon to the southwest of Whale peak. Finding rather fresh footprints in the sand we followed a wash going directly up the canyon for a few miles and watched the large numbers of sharp prickly and painful cactus give way to pine trees as we gained elevation. Before we reached the top of the canyon we wandered out of the wash and headed east, the general direction of Whale peak. It is interesting to note that coming from this direction one cannot see the summit of Whale peak until you are only a few hundred yards away from it. Soon we ran into a trail that was heading in the same direction we were. We followed this trail with some difficulty until it was clear where the summit was. We walked through the brush the last few hundred feet to the summit. We enjoyed a splendid view at the top as we ate our lunch and took pictures. On the way back down we decided to follow the trail we found going up. We followed it down and discovered it broke away from the wash only a few feet father up the canyon than we broke off. It is in fairly good condition and not too difficult to follow. We walked back down the canyon were back at camp by mid-afternoon. On the way back to camp we found a balloon resting peacefully on some shrubs. "Happy Birthday from all of Us" it read. Obviously the person who put that there had not realized that my birthday was five months ago. I packed out the rest of the way. Back at camp we packed up our things and walked the last mile out to the car. During that last mile my partner nearly stepped on a baby rattlesnake that seemed to be taking a mid-afternoon nap in the middle of the trail. We got back to the car long before dark and drove out back to L.A. that night after a very nice trip.

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