Sierra Club Lower Peaks list that seemed ideal. It’s only about 2 miles round trip with 600 feet in elevation gain, and the trailhead at Indian Cove is close to where I was staying. Mount Mel (3814’) is not in the park literature or in my two new books, so I turned to some trip reports on Peakbagger. | The route is primarily cross country, and after I studied the topo and Google Earth, I was ready to go.
A split-rail fence and an interruptive sign mark the beginning of the nature trail.
I follow a sandy path for about 50 yards to the start my first set of boulders. I successfully conquer the first big obstacle to find me staring at the next one. And it does not look safe. Wow, this could take a while. And these boulders look smooth from a distance, but their surface is incredibly course
...very different from the rocks in my San Gabriels. I have some knit gloves in my pack to keep my hands warm, but I’m not outfitted with suitable groves for this challenge.
and scat are present, but I don’t know if they are from deer or bighorn sheep. Looking at the west flank of Mel, it seems to be as challenging as the south side from the saddle.
Ragged rocks, blistering sun, deceiving distances, poisonous snakes, blinding sandstorms, stinging ants, and the absence of water and cell reception. Oh the drama of the desert! But oh beauty!
Walking down the broad wash, I climb the steep bank on the right to get a better perspective. I follow the route down and arrive at the nature trail in the wash at 1:35 and veer left to continue along the trail. I enjoy the signs and learn about desert willow, desert almond, lizards, and bighorn sheep. I leave the trail and walk across the desert back to my car.
1:45 - End hike. It’s 56 degrees and there are no cars in the lot.
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