I was on a week long trip from Medford, Oregon to escape the rain and get in some conditioning hikes in the warm desert of California. Stewart Point is a California P2k and a worthy goal. I arrived in the area the night before my hike and found an area to car camp down the road a little towards Pahrump. It was cold in the morning at 22 degrees, so I bundled up, drove up to the parking area on Hwy 178 and headed out across the desert towards the mountain. I could see the small saddle of my first waypoint ahead of me and I arrived there without any difficulty. This was easy.
I quickly descended down to the wash and followed it up to a dry waterfall. I climbed around the right side of the falls and continued up the wash looking for a big black rock outcrop. The black outcrop was mentioned in Andy Zdon’s book Desert Summits. Unfortunately, all the rocks in this area are black and I blew right on past the outcrop and continued on up the wash, climbing some dry waterfalls, and bypassing others. The walls of the wash became quite steep and I couldn’t see anything above or on either side of me except for the wash and walls.
I continued up until I hit a 15 ft dry waterfall that was straight up. I was boxed in. I had passed a big cave in some brown rock 50 ft back down the wash, and it looked like the only ways out of this wash were some Class 3 climbing. I had a general idea which way the summit was, so I picked a route up the side of the wash and climbed up to a little ridge. I could see now I had come way too far into the wash. I could also see that I could climb the little ridge I was on and get up to the main ridgeline.
It was a long tedious climb up to the main ridgeline but I eventually hit the ridge at elevation 5,000 ft. I didn’t have far to go to get to the summit. The rest of the climb to the summit was uneventful. I signed the register and ate lunch before trying to return down the ridge the way I should have come up.
The ridgeline was fun to follow and I tried to stay on top of the ridge as much as possible to see where it would take me. I passed several bumps on the ridge as I descended in a semicircle around the ridgeline until I could see the wash below me and the black rock outcropping that I had missed on my way up the wash. Descending from the ridge to the wash had some places where the footing was not good and I took extra time bypassing these areas.
Once I got back to the main wash, I climbed back out on the opposite side and took the old wash channel back towards the saddle leading to my car. My overall hike was just under 8 miles and took me 6.5 hours. Good exercise for the day.