Boulder Peak ESS
West Boulder Peak
Peak 6,486ft P500
Peak 6,020ft
Peak 5,620ft P500
Noname Peak P500

Tue, Mar 24, 2015
Etymology
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPX Profile

Continued...

Day 2 of my Southern Sierra peakbagging was somewhat similar to the first day. I was camped in the southern part of the range on the east side, west of US395. Today's tour would be around Noname Canyon, tagging half a dozen summits, only one of which was officially named. It would have significantly more gain and mileage than the Short Canyon tour, but with none of the more serious scrambling I'd found the previous day. Noname Canyon is found just south of the much longer Nine Mile Canyon through which a paved roads leads to Kennedy Meadows. There are no actual trailheads in Noname Canyon, but a variety of MWD dirt roads provide access off US395. I was able to drive only a distance of less than a mile before running into rougher road conditions. There may have been easier access points, but I was happy to simply park under the power lines where I spent the night, starting off from there the next day.

In the morning, I hiked less than a mile up the rocky road, passing under an aqueduct pipeline before starting up the NE Ridge of Boulder Peak. This is a deceptively long climb because a false summit is encountered along the way some 1,000ft lower than the highpoint. The entire climb is something like 3,300ft over two miles, a relentless effort that took me two hours. The saving grace was that it wasn't the horribly sandy route the previous day's initial climb had been. There were two registers at the summit, the first booklet placed by Gordon MacLeod in 1976, the second by Greg Vernon in 2001. The summit appears to be very popular, judging by nearly 100 pages of entries between the two registers.

From this point, the effort lessens considerably as I was now at over 6,000ft and cruising the perimeter of the canyon. About half a mile further west is another summit about 30ft lower, dubbed West Boulder by MacLeod when he visited on the same day in 1976. Far less popular, mine was only the 7th party to sign in its register. I spent the next hour hiking northwest to Peak 6,486ft, the highest summit of those I visited. Though it had more than 600ft of prominence, it had earned no register. It was a decent peak with nice views and if I'd had a spare register in my pack I'd have left it here. Continuing west, I dropped the 600ft+ to a saddle before climbing up to more than 6,500ft elevation where I traversed the east side of Sawtooth Peak's East Ridge. Though only a mile from that summit, I didn't really consider tagging it since it would mean another 1,300ft of gain. Having gotten a late start, it was after 2p by the time I started the traverse north. The slopes were steep, punctuated with pinyon trees that were just making an appearance at this elevation. By 3p I had turned the corner and started heading east along the north side of Noname Canyon.

Peak 6,020ft was off the main ridgeline by more than half a mile, making for a detour I would consider skipping. I bucked up, knowing I'd have regrets, and started down the subsidiary ridgeline I could use to reach the rocky summit. By the time I'd reached its summit it was after 4p. No register here, but some good views of Noname Canyon. Rather than head back the way I'd come to the main ridgeline, I decided to trade off more elevation gain for less mileage in choosing to descend off the north side of Peak 6,020ft, dropping to a small drainage before traversing back up to the main ridge and a saddle west of the next summit, Peak 5,620ft. These last two summits, Peak 5,620ft and Noname Peak, were the lowest elevation summits but each had more than 500ft of prominence. This meant far more undulations than I had experienced on the southern ridgeline. I was pretty tired going up and over these, topping out on Noname having done almost 8,000ft of gain on the day - no wonder I was tired. I had expected to find a register on this officially unnamed summit, having gotten the name from Shane Smith the previous year when he was describing some of these local peaks to me. Now a quarter to 6p, my consolation was that it was all downhill from here. I would spend the last hour descending the SE Ridge, dropping to one of the aqueduct roads which I could follow back to where the van was parked. The outing came in at almost 11hrs, one of the longer ones I've done in some time. Not quite the 23hr marathons I had done in years past, but enough of a workout for a 54yr-old.

After showering I stopped at the gas station in Pearson to find a 44oz soda to rehydrate before driving south to SR14. I would spend the night on BLM lands south of SR14 and west of US395 where I planned to hike the next day. The winds were howling ferociously when I pulled into the dusty camp area in the dark. The van would be rocking and swaying most of the night but did little to keep me from sleeping well - in fact it had just the opposite effect, rocking me to sleep like a baby that night...

Continued...


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