On Thursday, July 22nd, 2004, I made my third ascent of Tikaboo Peak. I'm originally from the East Coast and on my first trip out west in 1999, I ventured into the Tikaboo Valley and became instantly enamored. Researching everything I could about the area I learned of Tikaboo Peak and made plans to climb it. In May, 2001, my girlfriend and I were crossing the country and had planned on making trek up Tikaboo. However, a car accident in Tennessee which damaged the cooling system of our Honda Accord sucked away our confidence in making the 22 mile dirt road journey to the trailhead. We managed to go roughly 5 miles before turning back.
Later that summer, in August 2001, my best friend and I flew out to Las Vegas, rented a Dodge Neon, and made our first ascent of Tikaboo. We camped at the trailhead, and then climbed the summit the first thing in the morning (after accidentally climbing all the way to the top of the first summit).
I then moved to Los Angeles and made another trip to Tikaboo in August 2003 with two friends. We camped about 10 feet below the summit as it was very windy at the top and had our first night time Area 51 experience. This past May, my best friend and I made a failed attempt at Leviathan Cave in the Worthington Mountains and due to our failure, we were discouraged and weary from trying Tikaboo.
My last experience at Tikaboo two days ago was quite a memorable experience, mostly because it was the first time for my girlfriend and my brother (who had both gradually built up an interest in going after years of my insistence). We drove from Los Angeles in a rented Chevy Cavalier and arrived at the Little Aleinn around 3pm for lunch. While walking in we spoke with Chuck Clark's girlfriend who showed us some Native American scrappers they had found on a recent hike. Apparently, Chuck calls them "sex rocks" because they "are just another fucking rock". After a great round of Alien Burgers and t-shirt buying, we stopped at the new research center in 'South Rachel'. The operator, Pam, told us some pretty sobering stories about all the recent Rachel tragedies including one resident who had his face split open in a freak accident and was flown by helicopter over Area 51 (with authorization from the base) to the nearest medical facility (presumably in Las Vegas). Pam was very friendly and I wish her business well.
We then made the pilgrimage to the grocery store and gas station in Alamo and stocked up on water and food and used the facilities before heading off to the trail. The 22 mile dirt path seemed to be in better shape than the last time I was on it in 2003. There were less large rocks to be moved and fewer sandy humps. I was disappointed that we didn't see any cows as before.
We arrived at the trailhead, 22.6 miles, and an hour and fifteen minutes later, at about 7:00pm and started hiking 15 minutes later. We took a bit of a short cut up the first left hand path that ends in a circle around a camping spot instead of taking the road path to its end. It's a bit tricky, but if you then veer to the right, you'll hit the trail. Darkness fell shortly after passing the rocky crag and so we switched to headlamps and flashlights for the rest of the hike. If you're familiar with the area and have the appropriate lighting, I think hiking to Tikaboo under the moonlight is fantastic (and much cooler than under the hot sun).
At about 8:45pm we arrived at the summit. Very little compares to those last few steps when the base, all lit up at night, comes into view after a tough hike, scary dirt road drive (scary because I'm always paranoid of the car breaking down) and a long drive from Los Angeles. It was a calm and clear night and we set up camp right at the top, cooking hotdogs in one of the fire pits and watching the stars and lights. No action at the base that night except for one moment of getting the crap scared out of us by two sonic booms. We could see the lights of two plans chasing each other high up in the night sky at very fast speeds. We could even see a commercial flight in the distance to compare how fast these planes were going.
The three of us then crammed into my two person tent and attempted to sleep. I don't know whether it was the tight spaces in the tent, the beautiful starlight (remember, I live in Los Angeles), or the fact that I could see the base right out our tent window, but I didn't get any sleep that night.
The next morning we ate breakfast, took pictures, I hid a geocache by the main Tikaboo Benchmark (check out Geocaching.com for more info and be sure to replace anything in the cache you take with something else), and we headed back down. An hour later we were at the car and another hour later we were back on highway 93. We then checked out the front gate and headed back to Los Angeles stopping at the Luxor Casino for a lunch buffet (very good by the way).
A couple observations about the peak: There is way too much trash up there. Lots of cans, MREs, wrappers, blankets, empty water bottles, and even a pair of sunglasses. Back in 2001, the peak was nearly pristine with hardly any life at the top. Now the peak is infested with large black ants, dragon flies, bees, and small mice. This not only makes the peak seem like an over used campground, but prevents people from sleeping out under the stars (unless you want to be covered by big black ants). Please, practice leave no trace ethics and try to pack any garbage that you can. It may seem a bit hypocritical for me to say this given the fact that I hid a geocache up there. But the geocache is HIDDEN under rocks, contains no food items, and is for the purpose of logging and adventure.
Anyway, it was another wonderful adventure and I'm sure to return. However, next time it will be Leviathan...