Spanish Springs Peak P1K
Shinn Mountain P1K
Snowstorm Mountain P1K
Shaffer Mountain P2K
Thompson Peak P1K

Thu, Sep 6, 2018
Etymology
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 4 GPXs: 1 2 3 4 5 Profile

Continued...

On the third and last day chasing P1Ks in the northeast corner of the state, I had a selection of mostly drive-ups to do before heading home. Because of the rough road driving, I might have only gotten to two of these if I was still driving the van instead of the Jeep. Rather than thinking of it as allowing me to be lazy, I'd like to believe it just lets me get to more peaks.

Spanish Springs Peak

I'd camped on the dirt road leading to the Ramhorn BLM Campground the night prior, up early to drive beyond the campground before turning left on a rough 4WD road. This leads past the Summit Troughs (depicted on the topo map, there is a loose gate to open here) to within a quarter mile of the summit on its south side in an open grazing area. Grassy slopes littered with rocks rise up to the rocky summit with open views in about ten minutes. John Vitz had left a register here two and a half years earlier without another signature since. It was just before sunrise with a shady view to the higher Observation Peak to the east.

Shinn Mountain

After returning to the main road in Rye Patch Canyon, I found another rough track leading south up towards Shinn Mtn. This road, used to access grazing sites on the north and south sides of the mountain, goes over a saddle less than half a mile east of Shinn's highpoint. An easy hike goes about 0.4mi to the rocky summit in about 15min. Vitz had left another register here three months later, this time with half a dozen additional entries, though it's not obvious why this one might be more popular.

Snowstorm Mountain

This was the only real hike of the day and I made it about twice as hard as it needed to be. The peak is located on the west side of US395, about 10m SW of Shinn Mtn. Various roads are depicted on the topo map approaching the summit from the east, north and west, though their utility varies. Most seem to be overgrown and little-used access points for grazing areas and I found the going brushy. I stopped on the second road I checked when I was about 3mi from the summit and decided to walk from there. Had I pushed just a bit more through the brush I could have driven half the remaining distance to the top, but I didn't figure this out until the return. I headed cross-country soon after starting out (unnecessarily so), thinking a shorter route would be less work. Though none of the going was difficult, little of it was very easy. There was a great deal of rock scattered about the tall, dry grasses that kept my eyes glued to the ground to keep from tripping. The mountains here are really more like rounded hills, without striking relief, trees and other features to grab one's attention - a lot like hiking in the Diablo Range, actually. About 2/3 of the way to the summit I came upon a fenceline running the same ridgeline I was following. It was brushier going here, and I moved from one side of the fence to the other looking for cow or horse trails or easier travel of some sort, all to no avail. It would take me a solid hour and a half to cover the three miles, finally reaching the top just before 10a. Vitz had left a third register here, this time a day before the one he'd left on Shinn. There were three other entries on this one too, a little surprising given it had only been two years. With a better understanding of the roads and the lay of the land, I was fifteen minutes faster on the return and happy to be done with it. Not an enjoyable summit, this one.

Shaffer Mountain

This peak is 13mi due south of Snowstorm, also on the west side of US395. a decent dirt road goes all the way to the summit in 6-7mi. A quarter mile below the summit a locked gate is encountered, at least by the looks of it. A close inspection showed one of the locks in the chain to be unlatched so I was able to drive all the way to the top where an array of telecom towers is located including a bevy of cell antennae - it was the best cell service I'd had the whole trip. I walked around a bit to take photos in the various directions, then headed back down, intending to be done for the day.

Thompson Peak

I had texted home to let the family know when to expect me in the evening, only to find wife and daughter would both be out until later in the evening. No need to go home so early, I figured, so I looked around for something else I might visit. I found it with Thompson Peak in the Dixie Mtns, a subrange of the Sierra overlooking Honey Lake, about 19mi SW of Shaffer. Though it's a longish drive, much of it is paved, then switching to excellent gravel road. Only the last three miles are dirt where it gets a bit rough and steep (high-clearance needed). There is a nice lookout perched atop the rocky crest with surprisingly clear views. The caretaker was an older gentleman who welcomed me up to his cabin. We talked a bit about him and his duties, discussed the weather and fires and the surrounding terrain, among other things. Afterwards, I went out to visit the benchmark found along the rocky ridge running north about 100yds from the tower. It was after 2p before I started back down the road. Google maps took me back down US395 to Interstate 80 through Reno, about six hours to San Jose from Honey Lake. It was after sunset before I got home and parked the Jeep in the garage - it would have to wait for the following day to get cleaned up and ready for its next adventure...


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This page last updated: Tue Sep 11 16:53:30 2018
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