Eventually I worked out a tentative plan for the rest of the week, with a few backup options worked in (or in the planning stages.) All signs pointed towards starting with Blue Dick Benchmark Tuesday: it’d be a chance to knock out a quick peak before the bad weather set in and rendered the dirt roads undriveable, and it would involve so little effort that perhaps it could even count as a half-rest day for my knee, before I went balls to the wall the rest of the week.
The low-key and oddly named Blue Dick Benchmark actually dominates the view in certain places. I had noticed it several times coming up from Big Pine, California towards NV 266, and it does manage to fill up one half of a skyline dominated mostly by the higher Whites, Sierras, and Inyos on the other side. The peak looked inviting from Piper Peak as well, sitting slightly higher than its neighbors Palmetto and Magruder, all three possessing what looked like an impressive amount of terrain above timberline, at least for its elevation.
Studying the topo maps on Peakbagger.com I noticed that fellow SP’er Dennis Poulin had ascended the peak only a few weeks beforehand. I drove down from Tonopah fresh and early and followed the beta he posted. The cold front had already set in ahead of the storm, and I noticed the temperature dropping outside as I drove down the easy dirt roads leading to the top of the mountain. I parked after cresting a ridge upon emerging above the trees.
It was an easy walk up and over a few bumps to the summit. The morning air was frigid, the summit structures an eyesore, but the views were magnificent.
The crisp peaks of the Sierras stretched extensively along the western horizon, the razor sharp ridges of Mt. Russell looking especially ferocious.
To the south the clouds assaulted Magruder Mountain, advancing like an army over the embattled peak, engulfing its flanks, on the brink of overcoming the centre, the advanced scouts of a much bigger storm front breaking through the last barrier guarding noble Nevada from the coming onslaught of wintry unpleasantness.
Opposite though, the arid desert of western Nevada still sparkled under the sun like the gold that had been dug out from under these mountains so many years before.
The neighboring summits, all rising naked from the stunted forests wedged between tundra and desert, would have presented a pristine atmosphere save for the obvious ATV or unauthorized 4-Wheeler tracks that marred the area.
I returned early to Tonopah. With the rest of the day ahead of me I visited a few of the local shoppes in town as well as the town/county museum. A visit was paid to the only Mexican restaurant in town, but I returned to my motel room only to recoil in frustration as I checked the weather reports. Wednesday’s forecasts were still gloomy, with thunderstorms all over the state and guaranteed snow, hail, and freezing temperatures for every mountain range stretching from the Monitors and Toquimas above to Charleston just outside of Vegas. I cursed my luck and drifted into an uneasy sleep.
Boundary Peak and Pilot Peak on the drive back to Tonopah: