Potosi Mountain

9 Nov 2006 - by Linda Emerson

We left Bishop in the late afternoon, drove east over Westgard Pass and then south on Highway 95 through Beatty, where we stopped for dinner at a great little Mexican restaurant on the south end of town. After dinner, we continued south to Highway 160, which took us through Pahrump and Mountain Springs Summit. About 1.5 miles past Mountain Springs Summit is the Potosi Mountain Road turnoff. We turned right here and drove 4.2 miles on Potosi Mountain Road to Potosi Spring. The road was in excellent shape for the first 3+ miles, but deteriorated as we approached Potosi Spring. A high ground clearance vehicle was a must. Bearing right at Potosi Spring, we continued down the rough main road approximately 2.1 miles to a fork located just above a short steep hill. We turned left here, and drove another 0.2 miles to another fork. We turned left again, drove approximately 1.2 miles more, and parked. Others appear to have driven another 0.2 miles to the remains of an old cabin, but we found that part of the road to be in such bad condition that it was much faster to walk it.

It was a beautiful desert night warm temps, gentle breeze, big moon. Despite being so close to Las Vegas, it was very quiet and peaceful, and we slept soundly, waking up only once when some burros happened upon us in the middle of the night and began braying loudly.

The next morning, we awoke to perfect peak-climbing weather. After walking up the road 0.2 miles from our truck to the cabin remains (located on the left side of the road), we took the left canyon fork and hiked another 0.2 brushy miles to a 35-foot-high limestone waterfall. We climbed around the waterfall on its left side and continued up the wash for approximately 0.2 more miles. From here, we climbed to our right up out of the wash and onto a slope that we followed in a northeast direction, first to point 2234, and then to point 2431, on Potosi's west ridge. Turning right, we followed the ridge toward Potosi, eventually descending some very cool limestone blocks to a deep saddle with numerous power poles located approximately 0.5 miles west of the peak. From this saddle, it was a relatively short hike up the ridge to point 2583, then southeast to the summit. The climb took a total of 2.5 hours, including several stops to experiment with our new GPS.

There are a number of radio towers on/near the summit, and signs are posted indicating that the radio waves from the antenna installation exceed levels allowed under FCC regulations. We looked around briefly for a summit register, but found only a USGS marker to identify the summit. After a quick lunch, we headed back down to the deep saddle, back up the steep limestone blocks on the ridge, and then descended the slope to the waterfall. It took us about 2 hours to return to our truck from the summit.

This was a pleasant hike on a beautiful day. No big adventure, nothing too ambitious and a little too close to urbanization to feel very wild. But still a nice way to spend a November day.

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