I took a week off from work and headed south from Medford, Oregon to chase down some P2k peaks in sunny California. I found plenty of sun, but it was cold. I climbed Avawatz Mountain and Clark Mountain the previous 2 days and now my goal was Kingston Peak.
I finished Clark Mountain early and drove up to Kingston Peak from I-15 following the DPS directions. I didn’t find any signs for the Excelsior Mine, but it was plainly visible and I finally found the 4WD road that headed south towards Kingston Peak. There are several forks in the road and make sure you take the one to the right before the big washout in the good road. That washout looked like it would take my whole truck and still have room for the next unwary driver. That little right fork goes up to a little saddle where there is a solar powered weather station. I parked here even though the road continued down into the valley. I figured I could walk form here and it was a good level place to car camp for the night.
Early in the morning, I saddled up and headed north towards the little U shaped notch in the ridge line at the head of the valley. It was just getting light and I estimated the hike would take me 8 hours total. The hiking was easy along the road. When the road turned too much to the NW I turned left and headed crosscountry towards my first waypoint at the U notch. The brush here wasn’t too bad and there seemed to be lots of animal trails cut by cows. My legs did feel kind of tired from the hikes of the previous 2 days. I made good progress, but the further I went, the taller the brush was getting and thicker too.
Soon, I had crossed the valley and approached the last wash on the east side. I knew I had to just follow this up stream and then climb the headwall to the U notch. Here the going got slower. The grade steepened considerably, the brush was over head high and it was challenging to find a clear path that made any progress. I struggled onwards, sometimes on the left side of the wash and sometimes on the right. Eventually, I got above the brush and was climbing directly up the steep slope to the U notch.
After 2.5 hours I reached the saddle and I took a little break. After recovering a little I headed up the ridge on the right side of the rocky ridgeline. I found a spot to crossover the rocks on the ridge and followed the wide ridge line that headed up to my second waypoint at the next saddle and 6,920 feet. From this point I got my first good view of the summit. It was still quite a ways away and the ridgeline looked like it was going to slow me down. I was getting concerned about the time this was taking. It was now over 3 hours since I left my car. My GPS said it was about 1.25 miles to the summit, so I started off down the ridgeline.
An hour later I had traveled about .5 mile and still had .7 mile to the summit. I did the math and figured another 2 hours to the summit. And then maybe 5 hours back to the car from there. 11 hours total hike and there was going to be only 10 hours of daylight in late January. Besides that, I was dragging my butt. I was tired from my previous 2 days hikes. There was no way I wanted to descend from the U notch to the valley in the dark. I had run out of time.
I sat down, ate lunch and headed back to the car. Descending from the U notch, I praised myself for not doing this in the dark. I would have broken something for sure. I slipped and fell several times as it was.
I got back to the car a little over 7 hours from the time I left. I was physically spent, but I had a good hike anyway. I will be back when the days are a little longer to tag the summit of Kingston Peak.