Words & Photos: Rodney Wills
On Dec 27, 2011, I published what had to be my single longest blog post with a massive amount of photos! It’s practically three separate stories all smashed into one long blog! One in particular is buried way down at the bottom. It was a little SCX10 Adventure Hike that I did while on my way home back from Reno, Nevada in the cold December of 2011.
So, I figured I would re-purpose that portion into a single blog post.
Tungsten Peak Trail RC Adventure Hike – Bishop California
December 3rd, 2011 – Reno, Nevada – Weather: High of 28 °F with a low of 19 °F
It’s O’dark:30, it’s the closing ceremony with fingers, ears, noes and toes freezing cold, but the event prizes are flowing! Freezing and all, everyone had a great day and a great closer to a great year. We all said our goodbyes and wishes for safe travel, happy holidays and all that good stuff. I put the ADV80 in “D” and in the wind with my Jack Sparrow compass sent in a homeward direction, with a couple of side-trip plans in route.
I hate going to the same place twice unless overall conditions are different. I tent camped in Davis Creek Campground last night, and I have chosen to pass it on my way home as I have intentions on doing some R/C scout-inspection of the Ridgcrest area of the California desert.
So I hit the road..
I depart Reno making my way back down HWY395 through Gardnerville. They have awesome small town charm and their Gardnerville’s Carson Valley Christmas lights have the streets lit with holiday cheer. It made me think of my wife and may have been on the phone with her tell her about the sights of this small town and how she would like to visit it.
Carrying on with X-mass lights blurring by, and two and half hours and 120-miles later, I’m in the Mammoth area.
On down HWY 395 I cut off at Toms Place in Mono County.
I wanted to see what was up there and made my way up Rock Creek Road passing Rock Creek Group Campground.
Rock Creek Lake looks like a nice place! Need to see it in the daylight!
At this point I decided to head back down and save this road and adventure for another day.
FOOD! Too late – they are closed… I bet its a great place to eat. Wishful thinking.
Back on the road:
I land just North of Bishop, Ca around 10:00PM, and I was tired.
I pull off HWY395 on a little dirt side road to find a tent “pitchable” location.
I found a big powerline dirt road that traversed the mountain side. Found a little cutoff road from there that led me to a dead-end into a hillside with a 100ft drop-off. There was a nearby trailhead marker so I was hoping to make this the camping location.
Gave a quick 360º inspection, saw a trail-marker which noted that this is a hiking trail called Tungsten Peak Trailhead, making this the perfect camping spot for the night.
First things first:
Set up the tent and dig a fire pit and get it going!
Get the Jetboil PCS stove fired up and boiling water!
DING DING – Dinner is served via Mountain House! Tonight is Beef Stroganoff night. Boiling some more water for some hot tea! It’s rather CHILLY OUT HERE!!!
After dinner I set the camera up for a couple of night shots. Check out our
Night Photography Tips blog by Ian Coble. I should’ve had him with me on this trip!
Next morning, this is the view from the tent window. I was expecting the sun to come blazing into my tent, but that was just wishful warm thinking. Temperature is in the low 20′s. Due to being nestled back into a little canyon of sort, the ridge was blocking the direct sunlight.
So I crack open the sleeping bag to chilly morning air that has yet to be touched directly by the warm sun. I check out my surroundings under the peaceful early light of day.
Today, seeing how I’ve discovered this trailhead, my mission is to drive my Axial SCX10 Trail Honcho as far as possible up the Tungsten Peak Trail and see what I can see. I didn’t drive during the event yesterday, but that does not mean that I didn’t wish to participate, I was simply doing my job of documenting the event. But I too am a enthusiast! I’m nowhere near as hardcore as you guys, but I do like my R/C adventures, just a little differently than most, as you are about to see. I think you like to do the same though…
It’s still chilly in the shadows of the ridge as I set off on my RC adventure hike.
The sun has finally broken over the ridge, but it is still very chilly outside and the sun has yet to reach me.
A desert motorcycle riding buddy once told me to not let your hands get cold as they will hurt when I get older, he is in his late 50′s and so I see his troubles with his hands and took to heart his words. Warm gloves it is!!!
I’ve had these gloves for a long time as I bought them to shoot photos during my trip to Rally Great Britain in 2001. It was raining and COLD and these gloves proved CHAMPION! These are actually wool mittens. The thumb has a slit in it so I can stick the thumb out for critical touch situations when needed. Same with the fingers, but they are 3/4′s covered with a mitten cap that wraps over, so when I need those indexers, I can pull the cap-mitten part back. Or as you see here, just one digit out so I can feel the throttle.
Finally some direct SUNLIGHT on me!
That means I can pause for a break, lose a layer and grab some super-nutrition!
POP TARTS! I’m known for eating “cardboard” as my buddy ScottG calls them, you know granola bars and such, but today I treated myself to something that I found in the cabinet at the house before leaving on this trip and stashed it into my backpack. SORRY KIDS!
Onward and upward.
Me and my SCX10 Trail Honcho are on the go!
I keep looking back:
My 1:1 rig and camp get smaller and smaller.
The trail ahead of me gets more technical:
We press on.. We, as in me and my trusty SCX10…
The SCX10 Trail Honcho just plain works!
It gets a bit hairy in sections, and my mind wonders – how far will the SCX10 Trail Honcho go?
Just staying calm, searching out the lines, and being patient is half the battle.
It’s a chess board and you have to survey all your options.
You reach that spot…
Checkmate! NO matter how many times I tried, I could not get the truck up the crevasse even to the point of where I would roll the rig over on its lid several times attempting to make it through. I was trying to stay scale and then went full KOH-mode, but the obstacle was too hard to tackle, beyond the limits of the truck capabilities, and/or at the end of my driving talent.
Yes, I could have used a winch at this point, but it’s sitting on the workbench back at the office. I contemplate if the Axial Wraith would have been a better trail rig choice? Would it have made it through this section? This was it for the SCX10, and I am a SCX10 purist. Even if a 2.2-rig could have made it, for me, its not the same as a SCX10 on 1.9-tires. More realistic. What is real for me is different than say, a Casey Currie or Cody Waggoner. They can haul any vehicle to any location, offload it and drive that rig through whatever they wish. Heck, they even have street-going vehicles on 40″ tires. That is not my reality, thus my choice in R/C I like to keep in the same realm. I do own a Wraith, but that is not my rig of choice is all I am simply stating. I love my Axial SCX10 Honcho. And truth be told, this is my OG original Honcho that I’ve owned before coming to work here. It’s so old, it has the brown-channel sticker on the radio box to prove that it was once a FM transmitting rig previously. Carrying on… sorry!
I preview the entire area. No spots to drive around, no other route for passage. This is one of those moments where I could have easily HOG’ed it [Hand Of God] up the tricky section and move on. But, that is not my style. This is where I toss in the towel and chalk it up to be done another day, on another adventure and give it to chance that I come through here again, better equipped. Or time willing, to construct a ramp-bridge of sort.
But today, this is where I pack it up:
Literally. I put the SCX10 on my backpack. BUT, I wish to continue this little adventure further up for scouting purposes as the terrain shows signs of a promising valley ahead.
I look back and take a moment to reflect on what has occurred thus far! I was proud of my little feat.
It was a good fight to get to this point…
And what laid ahead… I WAS SO CLOSE TO MAKING IT!!!
As I progress on my hike with the SCX10 strapped to my backpack, I can see the valley ahead. Again, I was so close! My heart was torn by the the beauty and the ferocious, rugged rock.
The rocks where laughing at me with it’s mock torn heart shape!
Very strange – very cool rock formations to be seen up here.
I finally reach the little valley.
This area looks like an RC Playground Paradise to me!
I go out to the edge of this little valley, and see that it overlooks my camp area below:
After a bit of exploring this little valley, I see that the trails continue on up the next ledge, so I follow:
This only reveals more peaks and another large peak/ridge barely poking up in the background. Curiosity draws me in…
Look closely on the back ridge and slightly left of center, you will see strong wind peeling snow off the lip into the sky. It is December, and that is some howling wind!
I have yet another hill in front of me to reach that peak:
The below photo is an 180° view opposite from the above photo, looking out across HWY395.
What a spectacular view as well! There are just amazing sights of wild rock formations in every direction.
I call it the lean-to UFO crash rock shelter. You just wonder how these rocks got into these shapes and positions. It’s as though the fell from the sky and stabbed the dirt!
As any good photographer would do, a self portrait in action. For scale purposes only.
One foot in front of the other, taking my time, slow and steady and I will get there,
wherever there is. That’s the quest, the question of curiosity leads to adventure!
I think I am about to make a little summit on the Tungsten Peak Trail!
AND YES – SUMMIT!
SPECTACULAR VIEWS IN EVERY DIRECTION!
I make the peak! And find more interesting views and formations.
And looky-looky here! I’ve discovered my second geocache by accident!
I place a Axial sticker on the container, place an Axial sticker sheet inside and sign the register.
Jacket goes back on as it was even colder due to the wind on top of Tungsten Peak!
Like all mountain peak pursuits, the top is only the half way point.
The decent down is all ahead of me now.
WOW, my truck, of which cannot be seen at this point, IS WAY DOWN THERE!
To see my 1:1 rig again. Yet, it is still way down there, but I can see it.
I’m back to the little mid-valley, so I take a moment for a break.
I see lines… I see driving lines…
And I see more driving lines… this rock playground is a R/C climbing mecca of a playground! This could make for a great pack in, camp overnight shoot session!
An oddity of rock formation all around!
Dropping back into the final canyon.
I call this the handrail chute. This was the area that put an end to my SCX10
Tungsten Peak Challenge. Next time…
I see the tire marks and begin to wonder what other hikers might think when they see these little tire tracks on this steep trail.
My ADV80 is in view once again.
I think there is a super hero sleeping in these rocks. Guess who?
This concludes my solo hike SCX10 adventure on the Tungsten Peak Trail.
I take a moment to see my whole camp in the sunlight, the ridge I just came down, and I contemplate coming back with maybe a small group of us to run our rigs in the valley just above. Or maybe you will find yourself here, just as I have, and make a solo-trip of it!
I think about that big snow-blown Sierra ridge that was across from the peak I had climbed and know that I am not ready for a big back country backpacking trip.
You know, like Mt Whitney or the PCT! But we all have to dream!
As I head out on the dirt road, I look back in the mirror and see the majestic mountain taunting me, calling me back.
Further down the road in Lone Pine…
My view of the Sierra’s massive ridge is constant. There’s the PCT Trail that runs the length of it…actually it runs the length of California and beyond. Our dreams are what keeps us driven.
I finally make it to the Ridgecrest / Jawbone area.
I run a quick scouting loop and up onto this little plateau. The sun is falling fast already,
but it never really gets overhead during the winter months, thus the day seems short.
I climb back in the rig and back onto the tarmac of HWY395 for the final journey home.
I’m still looking down every dirt road and scanning the horizon, searching for what…?
I don’t know for sure, but I keep looking… in a wanderlust search for a new adventure. When I find it, I will know… I hope I never do… I hope I keep looking… at everything through curiosity! I see I am not the only one seeking adventure as I pull up along side
this guy in Victorville. At least his bike represents adventure even though he may just be going to the store.
The fastest AFFORDABLE way to cover a lot of ground in the desert is on two wheels.
Yes, I love my dirt bikes too.
The sun is going down fast. At arms length – four fingers is approx 1-hour / each finger 15-minutes. See page 53 of the Backpacker’s Guide.
Through the Cajon Pass, the sun is filtered by clouds making for awesome lighting.
I’m coming into Corona and I see the last ridge I will cross and I will be home. That is my little Saddleback / Santa Ana Mountains and our Axial office sits on the other side as well.
From the peak of this mountain there’s an ocean view. We do get snow on it and it is in Orange County, California. It’s my little quick adventure spot; be it on foot, mountain bike, motorcycle or truck and yes, even the R/C rigs have seen some action up there.
Mountain peaks are great for reflection and contemplation, but the only way you are going to get on top of one is to just get after it. You can read, talk and think about it all day and you will do that forever. But one day you just have to make a call to action and actually GO do it! GO! Find your adventure!
My first year working here at Axial has been an amazing time that has just flown by at light-speed!
GODSPEED TO YOU ALL – HAPPY HOLIDAYS and
MAKE LIFE AN ADVENTURE!
- rodney wills / AXIAL RC Adventure Hiker