THREE PEAK QUEST IN CENTRAL NEVADA FEATURING MOREY PEAK, MT. JEFFERSON & TABLE MOUNTAIN
Jose, Judy, Peppe, and Susan pose along the ridge to Morey Peak
Joel on the Mt. Jefferson (south summit)
Jose on the summit of Table Mountain
Memorial Day Weekend 2009, for a few LVMC members, consisted of a 38-mile adventure led by Joel Brewster. The first leg of the trip was to meet at the ghost town of Morey on Friday the 22nd. Not much is left in the ghost town of Morey for it was mostly abandoned in 1909 and a landslide in the 1950’s pretty much wiped it out. A couple of homes do still remain along with a “functioning” outhouse.
First arriving at Morey were Dave, Peppe and Jose. Joel drove in about an hour later with Harlan, Susan & Judy an hour behind, just in time to set up their tents in the dark with a slight drizzle of rain. Our crew of seven headed up an old mining road toward Morey Peak just before 7 a.m. The climb to Morey was quite strenuous due to a lot of elevation gain and loss. The trip was 13.7 miles roundtrip with a net elevation gain of about 3,300 ft.
On the way up it looked as if every flower were in bloom. Spectacular pinks, purples and whites shone in the morning sun. There were vast sage meadows that carpeted the rolling mountains with a backdrop of jagged peaks covered in lichen. A wild horse paced nervously as we walked through his territory only to be found at the exact spot where we left him when we returned. After hiking many miles the peak was finally in view and the group excitedly rushed up to the top.
At the peak we took in the sights of the next day’s journey, Mt. Jefferson, in the distance shrouded with dark clouds. We also saw Table Mountain, the Lichen Peaks and the valleys below. After a few pictures and a quick snack, “thunderboomers” were heard and the group headed back to camp. On the way back, graupel, a softer version of hail, pelted our tired crew before turning to rain at lower elevation. By the time we made it to camp the sky above us had cleared and we packed up our gear to begin the second leg of the journey.
After heading down the rough road from Morey we headed to Tonopah for dinner. While getting gas the day before Dave had heard a woman advertising that there were going to be Indian fried tacos being served in town. Hungry from the hike we stopped by the same gas station only to find out that the carnival serving the elusive tacos had closed due to the weather. After fueling up we got into our vehicles and headed to Scolaries, the only known grocery (clothing?) store we knew of in town. Jose had forgotten his stuff sack full of clothes at home and had been forced to hike in the clothes he rode in with, jeans and a tee shirt. After getting some fashionable new threads the crew headed to dinner in a casino for a long intimate dinner where we were served by very tall people. The meal was good but some of us believed that McDonalds would have fit the bill a bit better.
After filling our bellies we drove another two hours, through the historic town of Belmont, to Pine Creek Campground. It was dusk when we arrived but we were glad to be somewhere where we could pitch our tents and relax for awhile. Surprisingly the campground was quite full but luckily Howard, Kim, Josh, & Josh's parents had reserved a couple of beautiful sites next to the creek for us weary travelers. After some brief conversation around the campfire with Dave’s famous Gin & Tonics in hand, we turned in for a good night’s sleep.
Bright and early the crew gathered with a few new travelers for the hike up to Mt. Jefferson. Kim, Howard, Snoopy and Digger were the newcomers; Digger was a roaming dog determined to hike with us. The trail up to Jefferson was well-defined with a number of stream crossings, 14-18 was our rough estimate. No matter how hard some tried to stay dry, getting wet feet was inevitable. The trail gained elevation fairly gradually, except for the last half mile or so when snow blocked the trail forcing us to go straight up towards the summit. The stay on the peak was a short one, due again to weather closing in. Storms were forming behind the south summit and thunder began to rumble in the skies above.
The journey was 12.7 miles roundtrip with an elevation gain of about 4,400 feet. Once we all returned most of the crew huddled around, had something to eat and enjoyed a nice beverage. Some had beer, others gin & tonic and one had oil & vinegar (which turned out to actually be red & white wines in small bottles). After some food and water the group turned in for a beautiful quiet night.
On the next day Joel and Jose packed up early to head to Table Mountain to finish the three peak goal. The rest of the group had decided to head back to town a bit earlier. The day was clear and we began the hike up to Table following old jeep trails that seemed to fade into the sagebrush. After gaining a bit of elevation we realized we were not on the proper trail to Table but since we knew where it was, decided to head in the general direction. After some rock scrambles, bushwhacking, and quick elevation gains we finally made it to the top ridge.
We had only two more miles to the peak of this long, wide, practically flat mountain. As we were getting to the marked peak storm clouds were once again rolling in. We could see clouds dropping rain on nearby mountains perhaps 30 miles away. This put a bit of spring in our step to reach our destination that much sooner. We finally reached the nearly five foot rock cairn that marks the spot. The register was located within the middle of this cairn, somewhat challenging to access unless approached from the right direction. Time was short on top with cracks of thunder nearby. Shortly after getting off the ridge, loud cracks of thunder boomed above and tiny granules of graupal bounced off of us harmlessly as we bushwhacked our way down; the actual trail was still an enigma.
After sliding down some muddy mountainsides we reached a creek that made travel a bit easier. Rain continued off and on but once we reached a meadow the sun was out drying off our wet gear. After a bit more easy hiking, we made it back to the vehicle and headed home. In looking at maps of Table after the adventure it turns out that we essentially did what is now called the “Table Mountain Cirque” hike founded by the LVMC.
Great trip Joel, hope to put many more miles on my boots following
The forecast for June 6th at the 10,000 foot level in the Mount Charleston was for a high in the 40's with likely snow and thunderstorms! So, it was some trepidation that we set out for Mummy's Toe, a short, but steep hike to a seldom-visited, but spectacular peak. It is only 2.5 miles fron the trailhead to the peak, but you gain over 3000' on the way.
Our group of seven was Jose, his girlfriend, Heather, Chris M., Mike Shackleford (on his first hike in over two years), Nasrin, Evan, and me. We all bundled up for a wintry trip (well, maybe except for me) as we started out up an old road. It was at this point that Jose asked how much of the hike was on trail vs. off-trail. Just as we left the road to head up a steep wash (the end of the trail section), I told him it was almost all off-trail from here, much to Heather's chagrin.
As we picked our way up the steep slopes, Evan amazed us with stories from his job as an EMT at the Palazzo. Also, on the hike a job connection was made. Chris' wife Kristi was looking for a new job, and Mike mentioned to us that he was starting up a new website, and was looking for a writer/editor, and just like that... Kristi had a new job!
The temperature was in the low 50's but the steep ascent made it feel warmer. As our elevation increased, the temperature began to drop noticeably. The clouds, although seemingly non-threatening, were very low and looked dramatic as they hung on the cliffs above us. We hit several big patches of snow in the wash around the 9000' level. Mike even stopped to juggle snowballs! By the time we took a break at the saddle at about 10,300', it was into the upper 30's.
From the saddle, the summit is only about 20 minutes away. This part of the hike features a neat class 3 section to get on the ridgeline, and a forest of gnarled bristlecones along the ridge. The view from the summit was somewhat obscured by clouds, but was still quite impressive.
After heard distant thunder we hustled down off the ridge. The descent was quick and we got hailed and rained upon lightly on the lower section. It was a fun hike, made quite memorable by unusual June weather!
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