Christian Kemp's USA travelogs

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An unspectacular sunrise at Kelso Dunes in Mojave National Preserve Once more, I awoke far before sunrise, but was able to get back to sleep until around 6am. It was plain to see that sunrise would be yet another dull affair - once more there were clouds low in the sky. I drove to the dunes trailhead to use the restroom, then took a few unconvincing sunrise shots; but was on my way pretty fast.

My main hike for the day would be Teutonia Peak, I'd decided. This wasn't a hard decision, because once more I didn't have a lot of choice since there weren't many other hikes that were advertised in any way. Maybe I'd need to buy books for that, but it's a shame that these parks only seem to cater to roadside tourists. Along the way, I stopped at the Kelso Depot, a newly renovated former railway station stop from when there still used to be passenger service.

Looking at Teutonia Peak in Mojave National Preserve Once at the Teutonia Peak trailhead, or what I thought was the trailhead, I parked the car and started walking towards the mountain. After a while though, that trail hit another trail than ran parallel to the mountain. I went left and right for about a quarter mile each, but found that each way would not take me to any trail that went closer. Not sure where the trail was actually supposed to be, I took a look at the face of the mountain and decided that just ascending it straight-up, via a cross-country route was possible. Maybe I'd find a trail once on top, and be able to follow it down.

The going wasn't easy at first, not because of the difficulty of the terrain but because there were a lot of thorny bushes that I had to either go around or step over. I still quickly reached the base of the mountain, and started going up in elevation at a higher rate. There were slightly fewer bushes, but more stones that were potentially unstable, so I couldn't let my guard down. The route that I'd chosen wouldn't require any climbing, not even a lot of scrambling, just careful hiking.

Once I reached the ridge that would lead me to the top, I found a very faint trail, and the going got easier. I made fast time, and was able to take a rest on top before too long. There was no summit register, nor did I expect any; and after munching a bit of trail mix I set off on my way down again. I could have followed the faint trail to see if it led all the way down, but once at the ridge I decided to just descend the way I'd come up - the route would certainly be shorter, and I knew it was very much doable. The GPS would come handy in making sure I'd go down exactly the way I'd come up, and not go down a steeper couloir by mistake.

Iron rings help the descent in a narrow chute at Hole-in-the-Rock in Mojave National Preserve Once back at the car, I decided that my next stop would be Hole-in-the-Rock. To get there I'd first need to drive some paved roads, then some (well-improved) unpaved roads. I managed to get there without any problems (and without stopping on the way). Hole-in-the-rock is basically a climb down what might be considered a narrow canyon, with the side walls famously covered in holes; and then the hike gets less interesting. The hike down involves using some iron rings to get past two steep sections, but I found the rings to be more of an annoyance than a real help.

After that hike, I decided that I'd had enough adventure for the day. I also really wanted a shower, and the nearest one would be in Primm, Nevada; where I could also do some outlet shopping. About an hour later, I'd arrived in Primm, and checked in at Whiskey Joe's, a casino offering cheap rooms. I showered, and then drove across the interstate to do some shopping. On the way there, the "check tire pressure" light came on. I ignored it, did my shopping, but on the way back it was still on.

I stopped at the first Chevron, but the air hose didn't work. The one at the Texaco nearby didn't either. Fortunately, there was another Chevron on the other side of the Interstate that had a working one. I checked the pressure on all tires, it turns out three had slightly slow pressure (around 32 instead of 35psi) while the rear right one was at 22 psi. It was also missing the cap on the valve, so possibly someone had tampered with it, although I can't be sure.

While I was doing this, a woman approached me. I was thinking that maybe she had some trouble with fueling or tires; but it turns out she wanted money. I didn't have any money for her, mostly because I didn't believe her story. (Primm exists solely for gambling and shopping. If somehow you get there it means you must have had money to drive out, but if you leave without any you fucked up and shouldn't expect anyone to bail you out.) The woman didn't give up, so I had to switch to broken record mode ("Sorry, but no" repeated to everything she said) before she'd finally leave me alone.

I drove back to the hotel, had a quick McD dinner (which, predictably enough, was yet another underwhelming McD experience), and then retreated to my room.

Miles driven: HASmi (0km)

Accommodation: Whiskey Pete&#39;s (Primm, NV): $32.xx plus tax

Written Wednesday, February 20th 2008 in room 5032 of Whiskey Pete&#39;s in Primm, NV