Devils Head, 9064, Dakan Mountain, 9343, Rocky Benchmark, Sunset Point - a pre-closure scramblefest.
Since RRR is closed from December 1 to somewhere around April 15 (depending on weather, snowpack, etc., it can me MUCH later, like up to Memorial Day. It is entirely dependent on the forest service, and how long it takes them to get the road ready (they scrape/resurface the hard-packed dirt road almost in its entirety every year)), we wanted to get these peaks done, especially since we can see Devils Head from the top of the building on which we are working. Every day.
Devils Head is an outstanding peak, for many reasons. During "off season", the USFS generally closes the camground road, making for a 1 mile longer hike and adding another 100' of gain.
We parked at the lower TH, walked the road up and then the trail up. We wore our microspikes as the trail is hardpacked and slick with snow and ice. Since it was Dad's first time, we stopped and read the signs at the cabin area and talked about the history of the place.
Lots of stairs.
After reaching the actual HP (you have to climb over the fence to get to it, and the USFS doesn't really like that so much), we turned around and went back down. Uneventful, but a great hike.
From there, we drove down the road and parked at the old road (closed) and went north then west to 9064. This peak is a serious undertaking, and can be dangerous. It is rated about 5.3, with not really any way to protect the climbing. If a fall from the summit area isn't fatal, it will be disastrous. We made quick work of the hike, then scrambled up onto the summit boulders. Dad scrambled to the summit first, and I joined him. No register up here, as there are no potholes to store it, and the wind scours the summit clear of anything.
Saw some bear tracks in the snow at the base of the boulders. After a safe scamper back down, we continued on down the road to the turn for Dakan Mountain Road. In theory, this road goes all the way down to the plains, but I've never finished the drive. We parked as near as you can, and scampered over to the higher summit. Of interest, the spot elevation is NOT
the high point of the peak, although it is fun. The old Garratt register is gone and the canister broken into shards, so I installed a new one. Back to the car.
From there, we continued south to the parking area (shoulder) for 9343. This is another great scramble. We picked our way up the boulder covered slope through more bear tracks, and got to the chimney area just below the summit.
Great rock for scrambling.
This summit also involves some more tunnels and scrambling, and is also another NO FALL zone. A fall here would also be disastrous, if not fatal. No register here, either, as there is nowhere to put one that the wind wouldn't scour it off. There is an ancient rotting (slowly) bristlecone that grew at the base of the summit in a tiny crack. It must have grown there for hundreds of years before it died and blew over. I bet it has been there (growing, dying, falling over and rotting) for a millenium. Seriously.
Amazing old tree. Don't trust it.
After a safe descent, we went back down to the car, and drove to near the base of Rocky Benchmark. This is not a ranked nor officially named peak, but the Douglas County SAR folks count it as one of Douglas County's "6-9ers", the 6 peaks in the county that rise above 9,000'. Unfortunately, some idiot broke off/stole the official BM as well as RM#1. Cool summit area, great boulders, too.
After that, we decided we didn't have time to pursue Storm Peak and Chimney Peak, and headed home on RRR, which had gotten slicker with ice (the wind had picked up) and packed snow throughout the day. Still not bad, but I can understand why the USFS closes the road - there was evidence of quite a few people sliding off the road and ending up in the ditch, tearing stuff up pretty good. We did stop at the last possible place to get something - the aptly named Sunset Point. This is a 10' rounded sloping boulder that can be managed with inertia and good shoes. Kind of silly, but it's what we do.
Stats & LinksDevils Head
4.5 miles RT, 1100' gain.
.9 mile RT, 110' gain.
.9 mile RT, 150' gain.
1.1 mile RT, 110' gain.
.4 mile RT, 50' gain.
50' RT, 10' gain.
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