Saturday, April 30, 2016

Ghost Mountain and Quake Benchmark

Hiked: 4/29/2016
Distance: 4.2 miles round trip on trail and cross country
Summit Elevation: 3400' (Ghost), 3164' (Quake)
Elevation Gain: 900'
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 0.72
Round trip time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Recommended water: 32 oz.
Parking/Fees: Free at Marshal South Home Trailhead
Difficulty: Easy

Ghost Mountain is on the Sierra Club San Diego Peaks List, and was recently added to the Lower Peaks in lieu of Santa Paula Peak. Santa Paula was removed because the main trail is on private land and no longer open to the public. This is the second major change to the list in as many years. Bedford Peak was also suspended from the list due to the trailhead being within a fire closure area. Getting back to Ghost, it is also the site of the Marshal South Home ruins. The summit is about another half mile past the ruins and has no trail. The roughly three miles of dirt road to the trailhead can be driven in a low clearance vehicle.

Because of the heavy concentration of cholla cactus, the going was slow once I got past the ruins. Beyond the ruins, Ghost is a long, flat mountain, ending in a simple class 2 boulder. There was a new Lower Peaks register on top. I did't see a benchmark. The view from Ghost is remarkable, with hulking Granite Mountain to the north and hulking Whale Peak to the east. You also get a good look at the Santa Rosa range, from Toro to Villager. It's worth the low price of admission. I returned to the car with zero cholla strikes and got ready to head for Quake BM. The round trip for Ghost by itself was 2.5 miles.


Start of the trail


Marshal South ruins


More ruins


Sharps


Ghost Mountain summit block


New Lower Peaks register box


Quake BM below casting the shadow, Granite Mountain looming in the distance

Photosphere from Ghost Mountain summit

Because Ghost was so short, I searched the map for another nearby peak and decided to add Quake Benchmark. It was close enough that I just left my truck where it was and headed for it directly, not bothering with the road. The flat desert was mostly open with no real obstacles. I aimed for the nearest ridge line and had to slow down again when I started up due to the cholla. The cholla was thick on both peaks. When I got to the top, I had to visit three points to make sure I found the high point. I also spelled out my wife's initials in rock, claiming it on her behalf. There was no register or benchmark that I found. Careful steps got me down with no hits from cholla. I ended up not using the pliers I brought for cactus needle extraction. After that, I drove off to finish my business with Pike BM -- the one I missed doing Palm Mesa.


Ascent path on Quake BM


A blooming ocotillo at a cholla party


Quake BM summit with Ghost Mountain in the background


My wife's initials


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