A week after my last visit, I was back in the Sierra for two and half days. The forecast
had a small storm rolling through in the middle of this, so I planned to avoid the High
Country and concentrated instead on some P1Ks in the lower foothills along SR49 between
Oakhurst in the south to SR120 further north. It was a mix of private and public, with
more successes than otherwise. Most were short hikes of a few miles, but some were more
involved. Having spent the night sleeping off Teaford Saddle west of Bass Lake, I was up
and starting the first summit before 7a.
Goat Mtn rises 1,600ft above Bass Lake's southwest shore. At the south end of its
two mile-long summit ridge is a Forest Service lookout tower. The highpoint is at the
northern end, topped by a small . The route I used lies on
Forest Service lands, though the road I hiked is about a hundred
yards from the pavement. I took up to a saddle and then past a
to , but on the way back I took a more
interesting cross-country shortcut down the forested SW Ridge. Trees blocked views from
the summit and most of the hike, though there were occasional views west to
. I never did see Bass Lake.
Located about two miles southwest of Goat Mtn, Thornberry Mtn has less than 900ft of
prominence and was really just a bonus peak while I was in the area. I drove less than
half a mile to and parked there. A gated dirt road leads to the
summit in a mile and a half. The views from and enroute were
completely lacking. I did pass a couple out on a up the mountain
as I was coming down.
This summit has more than 1,500ft of prominence, a USFS lookout, and a road, aptly
named Deadwood Peak Rd, leading to the summit. It overlooks the town of Oakhurst to the
southwest. I thought this would be an easy drive up,
but alas it is entirely engulfed by private property. I drove Deadwood Peak Rd past the
No Trespassing sign, onto someone's homestead. It wasn't exactly clear to me if there was
an easement to go through the property, but I stopped when I spotted an older gentleman.
He was kind enough to explain that I couldn't get to the summit as there were seven
locked gates on the way, all private property (excepting the summit which is part of
Sierra NF). I drove back out to SR49 dejected, but not yet giving up. I tried a second
route from the east, but this, too, ended in private property (and not the abandoned
type). I made another foray from the north, exploring roads off SR49 from that side, but
they, too, ended in defeat and no obvious way up without encroaching on someone's
homestead. This would require either a moonlight visit or more boldness which I was
unequipped with at the time, so I gave up.
7.5mi NW of Oakhurst, just west of SR49 and near the Mariposa/Madera County boundary lies
Miami Mountain with just over 1,000ft of prominence. Located within the Sierra National
Forest, at least part of the short I used appears to be on
, but this doesn't seem to be a problem. It took only 30
minutes to reach the summit where a Forest Service lookout is located. The tower appears
to be manned by volunteers these days, judging by located at its
base. A vehicle was and presumeably there was someone in the
tower, but I didn't bother to climb the tower.
Clouds had completely enveloped the mountain and the tower, voiding all chances for
views. It was starting to drizzle as well, so I simply beat a hasty retreat back to the
car. A short drive and hike, but more of a bust today.
Devil Peak is the highpoint of the Chowchilla Mountains, a small sub-range within the
Sierra Nevada. High clearance vehicles can drive to the top where a lookout tower is
located. Even low-clearance cars can drive most of the way, but the dirt road to get
there is long and arduous, taking me almost an hour and a half from Miami Mountain though
the two are less than eight miles apart. The Chowchilla Mountain road is maintained
well enough, but it appears that constant work is needed to clear downed trees, slides
and washouts. The drizzle continued during most of the drive, eventually becoming snow
. If the weather turned much worse, I could be stuck in snow or
mud and I was none to keen to take my time. I spent about 30 minutes hiking to the
which I found locked. Judging by the
at the base of the tower, the primary occupant appears to be very fond of beer. Whether
he/she was a government employee or volunteer was unclear as there was no one there
during my brief stay. Back down , I was happy to get on with the
driving below snow line. At Battalion
Pass I chose to head southeast along another road rather than descend Chowchilla Mtn Rd.
This was so that I could attempt nearby Hogan Mtn, not to avoid the difficult road.
The road actually got worse. There were muddy conditions found that had my van sliding
around. One downhill section was particularly unnerving, especially when I knew I could
not get back up that same way today. The road ahead had better improve or I might get
stuck in the backwoods of the Sierra. It barely did. Hogan Mountain is another P1K
located a few miles from SR41. The small community of Fish Camp is located at the base
of the mountain on its SE side alongside the highway. I was relieved to reach the
pavement and then attempted to drive up the road from Fish Camp leading near the summit.
This road is closed and marked as private, owned by a tree farm. This would not do. I
then drove back up Summit Rd a few miles to a bend in the road on the northeast side
of the mountain that gets within 3/4 mile of the summit. It would entail a steep climb
of nearly 1,000ft through forest and chaparral. The through the
forest understory was relatively easy. But then I found myself climbing through and over
thick manzanita and other brush. Worse, everything was covered in .
Only fifteen minutes out of the car, I was thoroughly soaked and my hands were growing
numb. A check of the GPS showed I still had a third of a mile to go and the way ahead
did not look any easier. Frustrated, I retreated. In dry conditions it would not be such
a big deal, but today I was beaten.
Back at the car, I wasted no time stripping out of my soaked clothes, rinsing off with
a jug of cold water, putting on some dry clothes and cranking the car heater, roughly in
that order. I drove down SR41 to Oakhurst, my second visit to the town today. This time
I stopped at a laundromat to start a load in the drier while I did some other errands.
That one of these was a stop at Starbucks went a long ways towards rehabilitating my
soured mood. Life in the van had some pretty nice perks. I ended the day with more
driving, north again on SR49 and then some backroads through the small communities of
Darrah and Jerseydale and finally a small stretch of a dirt Forest Service road to the
4,200-foot level on the SE side of Sweetwater Point. The rain had stopped but the clouds
remained - the weather would only improve over the next few days...