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Skinner Peak, Bald Eagle Peak, Piute Lookout, Sorrell Peak

13 October 1990

By: Lou Brecheen

Skinner Peak is an excellent addition to our list. There is a very enjoyable 3+ mile hike on the well-graded PCT from Birdspring Pass, through semidesert vegetation (Haplopappus, Burro-bush, Mormon Tea, Joshua Trees & Piñon Pine with juniper) gaining about 1770 feet along the way. About 200 yards of cross-country to reach the summit rock is through thicker Piñons and Yellows. It would be hard to make this more than Class 1. Fine views in all directions can be had from the summit. To the North lie the beautiful cone of Owens Pk with the long rugged ridge of Mt Jenkins trailing off to the east of it; and Morris's rounded hump at its end. Scodie and Pinyon were much in evidence. To the South and West lay rugged, empty-looking timbered ridges with the familiar greenish-brown haze further away. The sunny blue skies and temperate breezes added to the enjoyment of Sunday, October 14, 1990. The slow, easy hike up took us about 2 hours. Lew Amack, Howland Bailey, Lou Brecheen and Ron Jones refinished the HPS list.

On Saturday we met at 8:00 AM on the Caliente-Bodfish road where Piute Mtn Rd goes east. Six of us (in addition to previously mentioned, there were David Stepsay, Leora Jones and Fred Smith) waited fruitlessly for 4 others who were No-Shows, then drove up to the trailhead for Bald Eagle. The pretty well brushed-out trail along the ridge in a Northwesterly direction brought us to the high 2nd class climb to the summit where we marvelled at the fine views. We then caravanned southeast, along Piute Mtn Road passing the turnoff to Piute LO, and drove out to climb the short, easy Sorell Pk. After that, we returned to the Piute LO turnoff (we drove that extra distance because I wanted a high, beautiful campsite for Saturday evening) and drove out along it to the base of the mtn, where we left our cars and hiked the 1/4 mile to the topmost rocks.

Our campsite was just off the road about midway of the ridge; beneath pine boughs. There was a previously constructed fire ring and plenty of downed wood. We enjoyed a small, short campfire along with the Mexican dishes which the participants brought for our enjoyment - tamales, chiles, chili & onions with plenty of cerveza. We thought we would be pretty isolated along there, but we reckoned without the opening of deer season just a few days previous. Almost all of the camping sites along the 3-mile ridge were taken by camper-shelled pickups. Rifles and shotguns protruded from vehicle windows or leaned against trees. From time to time, as we strolled along our various trails, we heard the distant pop-pop-pop of firearms as the hunters tried to thin the deer herd. Truly! The long-lasting drought has brought the mountains to an emergency situation as regards deer browse and the deer are over-populated and are starving.

This breed of deer hunter is pretty lazy, though. Their favorite method of hunting seems to be to cruise very slowly along the roads and when a deer is spotted off through the trees, they stop and carefully get out and stalk the animal. A strong breeze sent us off to bed by 9:00 PM.

It seemed to warm imperceptibly during the night and morning found us ready to arise and get going for Skinner Peak. The Piute Mountain Road from there down to Kelso Valley (Sageland) is steep and winding. Top speed is "slow". We required an hour and a half to drive the 30 miles to Birdspring Pass. SC 120 which comprises the majority of the driving route from both the east and the west to Birdspring Pass, is a very good road. How Bailey joined us within ten minutes after our group arrived at the pass and we set out for the fine peak described first above. It was a typical HPS hike with lots of good company, sparkling conversation, fine food and the outstanding enjoyment of the natural out-of-doors. Truly "going to the mountains is like going home". -John Muir

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