Mitchell Point

17 Oct 2006 - by Linda Emerson

Our original plan was to climb Mitchell Point via Route C of the DPS Guide. However, on the drive to the start of the route, we encountered a locked gate across the dirt road and a sign that indicated access was limited to official vehicles only. Starting from this point would have added approximately 6 miles and 2 hours to what would already be a long day, so we instead opted to climb the peak via the DPS Guide's Route D.

The drive approach for Route D is pretty much as described in the DPS Guide, except that the road is no longer in good condition. The initial 4.9 miles to the Bonanza King Mine turnoff involved very soft sand, and the remainder of the drive up to the Mine itself featured several wash-outs and a rocky, steep grade toward the end. We were glad to be in a high-ground clearance 4WD vehicle, although the road could probably be successfully negotiated without 4WD. We parked near the remains of a stamp mill and some galvanized metal tanks, although with 4WD, one could continue up the road another quarter mile or so to a better parking area near some stone cabin ruins.

From the cabin ruins, we hiked south along an old road that soon curved to the west, taking us to the slope one climbs to gain the ridgeline to the summit. Once on the ridgeline, we followed it west to point 2024, then dropped down to a saddle that separates point 2024 from the final half-mile-long ridge to the summit. We slowly and painstakingly contoured below the ridgeline until we arrived at a steep rock wall, at which point we made a quick climb back up to the summit ridge and on to the summit itself.

The Providence Mountains are a botanist's paradise, with an incredible variety and quantity of cacti distributed throughout very sharp, loose and sometimes steep limestone. This combination makes for some really slow hiking, and it actually took us longer to get down the mountain than it did to get up. Nevertheless, this is a beautiful, seldom-visited area (we were only the fourth party on the summit in more than two years) and is definitely worth the effort.

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