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Rocko1
Rocko1
Posts: 510


4/6/2022
Rocko1
Rocko1
Posts: 510
Continuing my exploration of Whale and the surrounding area, last Saturday around noon(75F) I started at pictograph trailhead and went up via Smuggler Canyon and then climbed out at about 4,000ft elevation and worked my east to 'Little Whale' and then Whale. Had always wanted to see the 'meadows' that are visible form the regular trail. I have really been bitten by the solo wandering type hikes with no real agenda. I hadn't planned on camping on Whale, but it just worked out timing and temperature wise. Carrying 6.5L made climbing out on loose steep lose dg interesting.

Mouth of Smuggler looking west has a fantastic Pinyon-3,600ft


Smuggler, while more challenging than the canyon to the north is actually more interesting. Larger boulders, more choked but also has more fauna.



Just starting up and out of Smuggler-


Continuing up the wall there are a few nice shelves one could camp

Topped out at 4,824ft and looking at the meadows

Video

https://imgur.com/2GTVCco



Natural water container



Nuts


Had again hoped for more live Pinyon trees as I worked my way toward Whale but sadly almost all of them are dead. Did find this great native shelter with many morteros and pottery.





There are 4 morteros here-hard to see as they are filled with dg




Another boulder cave



Not sure if it’s pack rats or what animal that builds shelters under hear out of chola cactus but it’s a pretty smart idea.
On top of Whale.


Meadows to the south


Camp


Wasn’t as cool as I was hoping-65f but zero wind which is a rarity up here.

Sunset


Was one of the calmest nights. One plus or drawback of the Pocket Tarps DCF material is it’s opaqueness or lack there off. I could see the brighter stars and planes flashing lights as they flew over. El Centro lights were also visible under the vestibule.

Got to 49F at night.


Woke up and went back down Smuggler from the top.
Sunrise


Another fatality.


Was back at the car at 9:30am, home by 11:30. Really decent 24h outing.



Album https://imgur.com/a/WPfdlHw
edited by Rocko1 on 4/6/2022
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Brian
Brian
Posts: 146


4/6/2022
Brian
Brian
Posts: 146
Yeah, you really packed a lot of exploration into one day. You really need to start checking out the other side (Harper and Hapaha flats).
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Rocko1
Rocko1
Posts: 510


4/6/2022
Rocko1
Rocko1
Posts: 510
Brian wrote:
Yeah, you really packed a lot of exploration into one day. You really need to start checking out the other side (Harper and Hapaha flats).

Yes, that is the plan. Access is an issue as it's tougher/maybe impossible to get my vehicle to get to that side. I'd like to check out the Fish Creek drainage and east of that.
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Brian
Brian
Posts: 146


4/6/2022
Brian
Brian
Posts: 146
Rocko1 wrote:

Yes, that is the plan. Access is an issue as it's tougher/maybe impossible to get my vehicle to get to that side. I'd like to check out the Fish Creek drainage and east of that.


Here's the starting point I would suggest: 33°04'41"N 116°17'16"W
Your Rav4 could easily make it there. The road is sandy but not rocky. From there I've done a dayhike to Split Rock in Hapaha flat, so I know it easily gets you into the area you're looking at.
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tekewin
tekewin
Posts: 315


4/6/2022
tekewin
tekewin
Posts: 315
Cool trip! Hey, I really like the terrain in Smuggler Canyon. Looks like a lot of fun.

That native shelter boulder looks unusual. I wonder if the boulder erosion is completely natural or if it was shaped.


I can't imagine hauling a tent around and camping on a whim. I can appreciate the true nomad spirit I seem to lack smile
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Rocko1
Rocko1
Posts: 510


4/7/2022
Rocko1
Rocko1
Posts: 510
tekewin wrote:
Cool trip! Hey, I really like the terrain in Smuggler Canyon. Looks like a lot of fun.

That native shelter boulder looks unusual. I wonder if the boulder erosion is completely natural or if it was shaped.


I can't imagine hauling a tent around and camping on a whim. I can appreciate the true nomad spirit I seem to lack smile



With the amount and depth of morteros near it, it seemed to be a heavily used shelter and it really was one of the better shapes-natural or improved that I have seen. The floor completely flat. The east side of it had fantastic shade and it's position is great for blocking wind. Easy to imagine a small group processing food here. I need to go back and spend more time looking around.

The tarp, ground cloth, quilt, pad and pillow is 3lbs total so that makes it very tolerable to carry. Pack weight with a days food is 12lbs +14lbs of water. For me provides tremendous freedom compared to a day pack.
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Rocko1
Rocko1
Posts: 510


4/7/2022
Rocko1
Rocko1
Posts: 510
Brian wrote:
Rocko1 wrote:

Yes, that is the plan. Access is an issue as it's tougher/maybe impossible to get my vehicle to get to that side. I'd like to check out the Fish Creek drainage and east of that.


Here's the starting point I would suggest: 33°04'41"N 116°17'16"W
Your Rav4 could easily make it there. The road is sandy but not rocky. From there I've done a dayhike to Split Rock in Hapaha flat, so I know it easily gets you into the area you're looking at.



Oh nice. The furthest I have gone up there is 33.111949, -116.315743.

Do you think it's any worse than that sandy section of Rockhouse Canyon Rd?
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Brian
Brian
Posts: 146


4/7/2022
Brian
Brian
Posts: 146
Rocko1 wrote:

Oh nice. The furthest I have gone up there is 33.111949, -116.315743.

Do you think it's any worse than that sandy section of Rockhouse Canyon Rd?


It's been a while since I've driven that road, but I did it quite a few times before my car had skid plates or A/T tires and I never remember scraping in the sand. So I'm going to say slightly better than Rockhouse for sand and much less rocks. If you've driven to the end of Nolina it's similar. One thing about these alluvial fans is you're going uphill the whole time on the way in, so if you can make it in, you can make it out.
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Rocko1
Rocko1
Posts: 510


4/7/2022
Rocko1
Rocko1
Posts: 510
Brian wrote:
Rocko1 wrote:

Oh nice. The furthest I have gone up there is 33.111949, -116.315743.

Do you think it's any worse than that sandy section of Rockhouse Canyon Rd?


It's been a while since I've driven that road, but I did it quite a few times before my car had skid plates or A/T tires and I never remember scraping in the sand. So I'm going to say slightly better than Rockhouse for sand and much less rocks. If you've driven to the end of Nolina it's similar. One thing about these alluvial fans is you're going uphill the whole time on the way in, so if you can make it in, you can make it out.



Thanks. I have only done the Bighorn to Nolina loop and would like to spend more time up here.
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rockhopper
rockhopper
Posts: 641


4/7/2022
rockhopper
rockhopper
Posts: 641
Rocko1

Looks like you are finding more of the Vallecitos mountains and Whale peak areas secrets. Those rock shelters and Morteros are a neat find. The water source must have been nearby. According to Lester Reeds book, the indigenous peoples knew the locations of springs that now one else knew about. They filled them in when "strangers" were nearing their water source. Only been up Whale peak one time. In the snow. Great trip report.
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Rocko1
Rocko1
Posts: 510


4/7/2022
Rocko1
Rocko1
Posts: 510
rockhopper wrote:
Rocko1

Looks like you are finding more of the Vallecitos mountains and Whale peak areas secrets. Those rock shelters and Morteros are a neat find. The water source must have been nearby. According to Lester Reeds book, the indigenous peoples knew the locations of springs that now one else knew about. They filled them in when "strangers" were nearing their water source. Only been up Whale peak one time. In the snow. Great trip report.



I believe there is/was some water source within 1/2 mile radius of Whale. I saw an tremendous-for the desert-amount of birds heading in and out of a drainage area that was decently lush yet too choked with rocks and brush to even get close to it.

I figure I better get up here as much as possible before the last Pinyon falls.
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ziphius
ziphius
Posts: 900


4/7/2022
ziphius
ziphius
Posts: 900
Nice looking trip! Whale is always fun.

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http://www.coyotelearning.org
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