Thu, Aug 14, 2014
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Mt. Jackson sits at the southern end of the Sweetwater Range, overlooking the community of Brigeport and its reservoir. Two miles to the north of Mt. Jackson is the unnamed Peak 9,551ft, less than two hundred feet higher but sporting more than 900ft of prominence. There are ranch roads running up nearly to the summit of the higher peak from the west and north but most of the land they travel through is private. A mostly cross-country, all-public route can be found from the south and southeast starting near the reservoir dam. I had found a Forest Service road on the east side of SR182 where I could spend the night in peace, moving the van in the morning nearer to the dam where I would start. The west side of the highway through which the East Walker River flows, appears to be signed for day use only, though it isn't immediately clear why this would be so. In any event, crossing the river is no easy feat even in times of low water, so it appears best to cross at the dam itself.
Sunrise came as I started out shortly before 6:30a, crossing the dam with the reservoir water very calm. The Sawtooth Range was one of the first portions to be lit up with the new day. Nearer, Mt. Jackson was also alight with the shadows quickly slipping down its slopes and across the reservoir. I followed a dirt road for about two miles on the northwest side of the reservoir, not the most direct route, but saving on some brushiness that I would soon encounter upon striking off from the road. Luckily the Sweetwaters are in the Sierra rainshadow and the brush does not get too thick even on the south-facing slopes. I regained the old side road as I entered Boone Canyon east of Mt. Jackson, but it was hard to follow and grew brushier as the canyon narrowed. I then struck off on what seemed the most expedient route to Mt. Jackson, heading west and northwest out of the canyon, climbing some 2,000ft in the process. Juniper and pinyons dominate the landscape here, a somewhat tiring bit of steep, sometimes sandy slogging as I weaved my way around the trees.
It was already growing warm as I topped out at the summit before 9a, finding a small glass jar serving as a register under the highest clump of trees. Bob Sumner had left the register in 2005, with three other parties having visited in the past nine years. Brian and Marie French were the most recent visitors, only a few months earlier, Marie 8mo pregnant. Go Marie! The views are not as good as one might expect, trees partially blocking the best views towards the south. Views were more open to the west (to the Sierra Crest) and north (to Mt. Patterson). To the northeast could be seen the undulating ridgeline to Peak 9,551ft to which I next turned my attention.
The broad ridgeline has several intermediate highpoints along the way, none requiring much elevation gain or loss. Mostly open with easy cross-country travel, a cooling breeze at the 9,000-foot elevation level helped reduce the air temperatures across the landscape. One of the highpoints I went over had an old survey tower supported by rusting wires still intact, probably used to establish the spot elevation shown on the topo map. An hour and a half after leaving Mt. Jackson I had reached the highpoint at 9,551ft. No tower, no register, there was nothing of much interest to be found at the summit aside from the views which were not significantly different than those found on Jackson.
Heading southeast off the summit, I crossed the old, no longer used ranch road that comes in from the north and around the east side of Peak 9,551ft. A barbed-wire fence supported by tree-limb fence posts was mostly dilapidated as was a gate the old road passed through. I followed it only a short distance before continuing southeast while dropping some 2,600ft back down towards the dam, taking most of two hours. Just after noon when I returned to SR182 and the van, it had taken less than six hours for the 10mi outing. Warm once again at the lower elevation, I drove back to Bridgeport to seek shelter from the heat at the Mono County library found there. Well, that and the free WiFi. I would have the rest of the day and that night to rest up for the Challenge which was scheduled to start at Twin Lakes the next morning. As the sun was getting ready to set, I found my way to Buckeye Road and NF lands near Robinson Creek where I could spend the night quietly. Legal, too...
This page last updated: Wed Sep 3 20:11:01 2014
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