Video from this trip can be viewed at thisweb site.
Having tried to climb Charleston Pk in April and not succeeded, I was determined to return and try again. This time, just to add an element of fun, I brought along my girlfriend.
On May 24th, 2002 we hopped on a bird and landed in Orange County, California. I was flying on a frequent flyer ticket with NW and this was the closest location we could get to Vegas. We left the airport in our rental car at about 10:00pm. The ride from Cali to Vegas was grueling, as everyone in California jumps ship and heads for “the river” for this particular holiday weekend. Alternating drivers, we arrived in North West Vegas at about 3:30am. I had arranged to have a friend purchase and leave on his porch fuel for my stove. After picking up the fuel we cruised to Kyle Canyon, arriving at about 4:30am. We stopped at the turn off just short of Cathedral Rock Picnic area and racked out until about 8:00am, unable to sleep anymore because we were still on Michigan time. Upon waking up, we observed about 6 or 7 other cars/trucks had shown up in the night/morning and people were moving about packing there gear. There are pit toilets on the edge of the turn off well stocked with toilet paper, this is your last chance to use a civilized toilet.
We drove over to the Trail Canyon trailhead and parked off to the side of the street on a small gravel embankment and were soon making our way up the trail. We were making VERY slow progress – I’m talking like 1 or 2 mph. My climbing partner was not very well prepared for this hike.
About 30-45 minutes after picking up the North Loop Trail off of Trail Canyon Trail there is a water source. I believe the source is called Cave Spring and at this location is a hollowed out log with a hose feeding it water. This is the last water source (besides melting snow during winter months), that I am aware of, from this point on. I'm not sure how clean it is, it's probably pretty clean, but I boiled any water I took from it. I did see another hiker fill his water bottle and drink it immediately. Slightly uphill from the man made "well" there are small caves that looked as if they could be used for shelter.
At the beginning of the switch-backs at the base of Mummy Mtn I was really wanting move out and decided to carry my partners pack for her so we could go a little faster. After clearing the switch-backs I returned her pack, knowing that the terrain would level out as it traced along the ridge line. We followed the ridge for a bit until we got a good view of the summit. As this ridge progresses toward the summit there are numerous spots were one can stop to set up camp. Especially nice are the areas where out cropping platforms create flat surfaces in the ridge’s side, they range from 100 sq ft and up in real estate. We found a great spot with a wind block already developed, created from some old dead wood.
After spending the night here, we headed for the summit in the morning. We left our camp set up and only carried our summit packs. Three hours later we were on the top. What a great feeling! I had finished the unfinished business I left in April. Coming up the final switch backs on the summit hill I had forged ahead and left my partner behind . For a few minutes I had the summit all to myself. After about 10-15 minutes she crested the top and we celebrated together. We signed the register and then headed off towards the plane wreck on the other side of the summit mound.
A few minutes later and we were perusing the wreckage of a C-54 (?) Plane Wreck . Quite a bit remains and it was quite interesting to check it out. Back up to the summit we went. We headed back to the switch backs, back to camp, and eventually down to the canyon floor.
In summary, the trail was well defined. On a previous attempt about two months earlier I had lost the trail just short of the Devil’s Thumb. This time, with less snow, and more recent travel the trail was quite evident. The slight switch back I missed in April, causing me to turn around, was more evident but still we questioned whether is was the correct way, as it doubles back, heading away from the summit. It turned out to be the right choice. We crossed a total of maybe 3 or 4 snow chutes, none requiring any technical moves. What a difference nearly two months makes, my previous trip ( Charleston Peak-April Attempt ) consisted of playing in lots of snow on this mountain. This is a very rewarding climb and although many do it one long day, it is a great over niter – especially if coming from lower altitudes (less than 1000 feet) or bringing along some one with little out door experience. As far as traffic, the parking lot just short of the Cathedral Picnic Area was full on Friday morning with numerous individuals preparing to climb (probably accentuated by the holiday weekend). However, we only encountered a few people on the North Trail Loop, I am guessing the South Trail Loop had much more traffic.