Hog Mountain P1K
Hughes Mountain P1K
Tivy Mountain P1K
Dalton Mountain P1K
Bald Mountain P1K
Bear Mountain P1K

Mon, Apr 7, 2014
Etymology
Bald Mountain
Bear Mountain
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 4 GPXs: 1 2 3 4 5 6 Profiles: 1 2 3 4 5 6

Continued...

This was a long day, totalling some 26 miles and 11,000ft, broken into six separate hikes over about 15hrs. I was in the Sierra foothills east of Fresno to tag some of the dozen or so P1Ks found in this area, almost all of them on private property. Spring rains had finally painted most of the state a beautiful green and it seemed a good time to visit the area before things warmed up too much.

Hog Mountain

The trailhead for this is located off Trimmer Springs Rd on the north side of Pine Flat Reservoir. The wide, flat area is the starting point for trails at the Edison Point Wildlife Area south of the road, overlooking the reservoir. Hog Mtn lies to the north of the road where one can make use of a ranch road to start. The road climbs a short ways before traversing around the east side of the mountain, so isn't helpful for very long. A more direct route is to simply start up the grassy South Ridge and follow this nearly to the summit. The route makes use of cow trails and grassy slopes for minimal bushwhacking. As with most of the Sierra foothill summits under 5,000ft, there is plenty of poison oak along the route though it is not difficult to avoid. Flowers were in abundance, particularly poppies in great profusion. On the way up in the early morning these were closed up, but on the way down they were all open for a great show. Interestingly, they were primarily yellow in color, usually an indicator of more desert-like conditions. Even the poison oak was in bloom, looking almost lovely compared to its more usual sinister appearance. The route provides fine views towards the south, overlooking the reservoir and the surrounding foothills. The last section to the summit is rather brushy, but as luck would have it an old ranch road can be picked up which conveniently switchbacks up the southwest slope, keeping the whole affair mostly brush-free. The summit itself is a moderately brush and rock affair at the end of the old road, not very exciting. But the views are quite nice, especially those of the reservoir to the south.

Hughes Mountain

This P1K is found on the west side of Pine Flat Reservoir, overlooking the dam and about 3mi southwest of Hog Mtn. Access is from the northwest, also off Trimmer Springs Rd. An old ranch road (undriven for years) starts from the pavement and goes to the summit. There are numerous homes to the east, several of which are just visible from the large switchback near the beginning. It appears that at one time this road was intended to access more development planned for the area, but that doesn't seem to have materialized as the realtor signs have fallen to decay. After a number of switchbacks to gain altitude, the road traverses the west side of Pt. 2,366ft and Pt. 2,352ft before gaining the ridge for the last half mile to the summit. The road bypasses to the north of the highpoint, but the last 100yds or so are easy enough up tall grass slopes under an oak forest. Remote as it is, the entire route seems pretty safe to hike in the daytime. Some of the slopes were covered in yellow poppies making for a colorful springtime display. A gopher snake crawling across the road was not happy when I attempted to pick it up, so I decided to leave it be. Views take in the Hughes Creek drainage to the northwest, Red Mountain to the west, Tivy Mtn and the Kings River to the southwest and some views through the trees of the Pine Flat Reservoir to the east. If one walks far enough down the south side of the summit you can get a fine view of the dam at the western end of the reservoir. In the background sweeping northeast to southeast are the snowy summits of the High Sierra.

Tivy Mountain

Another three miles southwest of Hughes Mtn is Tivy Mtn with more than 1,400ft of prominence overlooking the Kings River from the south. Dirt roads can be found leading to the summit up the south side, but access to these is restricted through numerous ranches. Routes from the west can be found along Piedra Rd, but there are more homes along this road to be concerned with. I picked out a fairly brush-free route from the northeast along Elwood Rd, far from any homes in the less-populated valley found along Mill Creek. The route followed up grassy, oak forested slopes across several property boundaries. The first property is used to graze a herd of horses that were fairly friendly - they watched me or came towards me, hoping perhaps that I had something to give them. Cattle grazed on the second and third properties higher up. As I neared the summit ridge with about half a mile to go, I eschewed the road on the south side in order to keep better out of view. This was a bit silly on my part because I was much too far away to be spotted, the road sees almost no traffic, and the ridgeline was fraught with rocky, false summits entwined with poison oak that I spent too much time negotiating. Eventually realizing this error, I dropped down to the road and followed this the remaining way to the summit. A water trough and tank are found just east of the highpoint, the few cattle I found there moving off to the other side of the mountain on my approach. The highpoint is found in a pile of rocks partially surrounded by trees and more poison oak. No one had bothered to leave a register that I could find (nor were there on any of the other five summits).

The views are best off the south side where the steep South Face drops off 2,000ft to Clark Valley. Now that it was afternoon, haze from the Central Valley obscured distance views, though the snows of the High Sierra remained easily visible to the east. By making good use of the road to bypass the troublesome places along the ridge, along with some downhill jogging, I was able to make it back to the start in 45min. By now I'd done about 5,500ft of gain and was pretty tired. Looking at the next one on my list it seemed easier than the first three at little more than a mile - how hard could it be?

Dalton Mountain

What I failed to appreciate was that though the distance was shorter, the elevation gain was another 2,000ft. That simply made it steeper, and not really easier. I probably knew this at the time but was sort of in denial for the sake of forcing my body to continue. Dalton is the middle of three P1Ks lying north of SR180 and Squaw Valley (not to be confused with the more famous Squaw Valley in the Tahoe region). There are a number of roads on Dalton's south side that reach partway up the mountain and might provide the shortest routes to reach it. But these all seemed to be semi-private roads and I disliked the idea of driving up one after another only to find No Parking or Private Property signs where clearly there were occupied homes. Instead I picked out a route up a grassy slope on the west side, away from homes and ranches. Though steep and tiring, the route was a good one with more poppies on this one slope than I had seen all day. In places there were so many that I had to squint to fend off the bright yellow glare reflected off their many petals. The poppies covered acres of hillside, apparently not a favorite of the cattle that were seen grazing elsewhere. Across the slope to the SEl was a fine view of the Great Western Divide, making for a most pleasant scene.

As I neared the summit ridgeline the slopes became brushier and I was quite happy to stumble upon an old ranch road that I hadn't noted earlier. It isn't shown on the topo map, but it does show up if one studies the satellite view carefully. It is most helpful due to the excessive poison oak found at the highest elevations here, and I dutifully followed it for 2/3mi until about 200ft from the summit. The last bit to the top was a careful dance around poison oak that infests the summit rocks buried in the dense trees. As a summit, it was a definite bust. Back on the road, better views were to be had, especially to the southeast with more views of the Great Western Divide. I took a handful of pictures, zoomed and normal, before starting back. I chose a route that would take advantage of the old ranch road which I had noted coming up the SW side of the main ridge a few drainages to the north. Though longer, the route was less steep as long as I stuck to the road that switchbacked down the hillside. Near the bottom I gave up on the road and dropped more directly into the drainage to get me back to the pavement, walking the last half mile back up the road to the van.

If I was tired before Dalton, I was near exhaustion now. I hadn't had dinner the night before and had had a scant breakfast in the morning, followed by nothing but Powerade since then. I wondered if lack of food had more to do with my condition than the 7,500ft of vertical I'd climbed and decided to try an experiment. I drove to Squaw Valley where I found Bear Mtn Pizza open, but nearly deserted. I ate five slices of a large pepperoni pizza and rinsed the salt and sweat off my face during an hour's break. It was a tasty experiment anyway, and did me good, reviving my flagging spirits. With renewed energy, I set out again with a bit of daylight remaining.

Bald Mountain

About 3mi NE of Squaw Valley is Bald Mtn, rising 2,000ft in a mile, the steepest slope of the day. With homes dotting the area, I found a place to start between two of them, climbing up through what appears to be a hunting ranch. Several blinds, looking like sturdy tree houses, were found on either side of the route I took up the grassy south slopes. The air was starting to cool as the sun sank lower in the western sky and a breeze picked up near the summit ridge to add a chill. There was some poison oak to avoid on the way up, but far more of the stuff was waiting near the rocky summit as a last line of defence protecting the highpoint. I had to try several tacks before finding my way to the top just after 7p, the sun now ready to set behind Bear Mtn to the west. To the east could be see the pointed shadow of Bald Mtn extending over Clingans Junction and Little White Deer Valley. What had taken an hour to ascend took only half that time in descent as I raced the coming twilight in order to get down while I could still see well enough to avoid the loose rocks that littered the slopes.

Bear Mountain

Bear Mtn lies about 2 miles NW of Squaw Valley. Paved Bear Mtn Rd climbs 1,600ft in 3mi to reach the antennae-topped summit, though it is gated near the bottom and Squaw Valley. I decided I had enough energy for one last summit, happy to simply plod up the road rather than another steep scramble up grassy slopes. It was 8p by the time I started out, soon growing dark. A half moon high overhead was more than sufficient to light the roadway without resorting to headlamp. After climbing over a saddle on the mountain's long East Ridge, the road turns west as it traverses upwards along the north side of the ridge overlooking a quiet, oak-forested valley used for grazing. The road then turns north as it starts a long switchback climbing the NE Ridge before popping out onto the summit ridgeline. There are two summits of nearly equal height, both with tall summit communications towers. The lights of the Fresno area and much of the Central Valley are visible from the top. I visited both summits, each featuring a rocky highpoint ensconced in poison oak and other shrubs, not the most inviting of places.

On the return, where the road turns east onto the north side of the East Ridge, I came upon about a dozen cattle grazing alongside the road. These took off into the brush further down in the ravine upon my approach. Then came the rushing sound of what seemed like a huge flock of birds taking off from the oaks, but turned out to be the trampling of a far larger herd than I expected down the creek. A few minutes later when the sounds had quieted and I was calmly walking down the road, I heard the renewed rush of trampling hooves crashing up from the ravine towards the road. It occurred to me that I could easily be crushed in a stampede if the large herd came thundering up to the road, so I shouted out "Whoa!!" to let them know where I was while darting off the road and behind a stump, as much as I could find on short notice in the way of protection. My shout seemed to have the desired effect because the herd veered off in another direction before reaching the road and the sounds emanating from the woods soon quieted again. The rest of the hike continued without incident as I got back to the gate not long after 10p. After a quick rinse, I ended up spending the night where I had parked as it was fairly secluded away from the periodic traffic traveling along SR180. There was no movie, no glass of wine to relax this night, just the tired bones of a full day's effort in the hills. Sleep would be easy tonight...

Continued...


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Anonymous comments on 02/21/15:
Hello, I enjoyed your photos so much and thanks for posting. My aunt and uncle, Pearl and Frank H. Short, Jr. used to live in the foothills of Tivy Mountain. They had ranching interests there and also vineyards. They told me a Native American story about the origin of Tivy Mountain. I think I remember it correctly but not sure. I write articles for my school alumni newspaper and am writing one now on my wonderful holiday with them in 1944. I was 4 years old at the time but remember it well. Would you happen to know that NA story or have a photo of Tivy Mountain and the 2 mountains on either side of it? If so I would appreciate so much if you could post so I can see the mountains again & double-check the accuracy of my memories. Thank you so much, one way or the other. Diane Ethridge in Conroe, TX deae@consolidated.net Please enter comments here.
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