With four days in the Southern Sierra, I spent the first day along the Western Divide,
making a series of short hikes to various summits. Yokut Spire turned out to be the
highlight of the day, a fine class 3 scramble with considerable exposure.
Mule Peak / Onion Meadow Peak
These two summits are found south of Slate Mountain, along the crest that forms the
Western Divide. Mule Peak sports a manned fire lookout
with fantastic views. Views on
the higher Onion Meadow Peak are limited and not worth much. I drove up to Crane Meadow
where the 3/4mi-long Mule Peak Trail starts. While the dirt
road is in good condition, it
is extremely dusty and the water bars were almost two much for the low-clearance van. I
spent a little over two hours hiking both peaks from Crane Meadow, first going up to
Mule via the trail where I met a young ranger who I chatted while taking
pictures, signed the register and headed off.
He tried to dissuade me from heading cross-country north off
the summit, "Lots of manzanita..." but the brush proved a minimal hindrance. I found
myself dropping to a saddle along the crest with a barbed-wire fence
boundary with the Tule Indian Reservation that lies west of the national forest. I
followed the fence down to a road
(one can pick up this road out of Crane Meadow to
drive closer to Onion Meadow Peak, if one so chooses) that skirts around the east side
of Onion Meadow Peak. I followed the road until I was about half a mile from the
summit, then reverting to cross-country travel up the south side. There was a moderate
amount of brush
on this peak, but with careful route choices there was really no
thrashing. As mentioned, I found the summit
disappointing and beat a retreat after taking a few pictures.
Peak 7,540ft - Table Mtn
to the van, I repositioned it a few miles further south to go after these
two minor summits since I was in the area. The unnamed summit has a bit over 300ft of
prominence but Table Mtn falls far short and is very un-table like.
Neither summit has any views whatsoever. I
spent an hour and change making a loop over both of them, using a combination
of cross-country and dirt roads. The largest incense cedar is said to be in
some 12ft in diameter, but it wasn't obvious and I didn't take notes that would allow
me to locate it. Bill Peters is probably wondering why he ever bothered trying to get
me to learn about trees.
From the parking area on the north side of this small granite dome, it takes
less than five minutes to reach the broad summit. Signs
warn of climbers in an effort to dissuade
folks from chucking rocks off the top. I don't think there were any climbers on the
polished South Face today, but I still didn't throw rocks. There is a good view of
The Needles to the north and the Kern River drainage to
the southeast. Lots of haze
today to make things seem further than they really are.
This was awesome, put simply. I used the Slate Mtn Trail
near Quaking Aspen to reach
the spire, heading cross-country after about 2mi on trail. The spire lies at the north
end of a rocky, pinnacled ridgeline north of Slate Mtn. It is somewhat detached from the
ridge, connected at a notch, with about 40ft of prominence. The notch can be approached
from the west or east. The west side of the notch has some brush but is
class 2. The east side is beefier, class 3-4.
I used the west side on the ascent and the east side
for the descent (it features a cool little tunnel, too).
The crux starts immediately
from the notch, a class 3-4 crack system with good holds. I left my pack
at the notch
because I thought it might get harder higher up. Above, the route grows quite
but the rock is solid and the holds bomber, making it easy class 3. Totally worth
a visit if you are anywhere near the area and enjoy such scrambling.
I totally botched this one, found north of Slate Mtn, near The Jordan Peak lookout. I
had gotten the name from Jenkin's map in her guidebook, but had mis-located it about a
mile SE of the actual location. I followed a road to its abrupt termination
and then an overgrown path
through the remaining part of the road to within a quarter
mile of the summit I'd identified. Cross-country through forest got me to the top with
some views. I was disappointed to find
no large rock outcrop like
I expected. I did find a large signal reflector on the
west side of the mountain,
but it was only a few hours later before I discovered I'd climbed the wrong point.
Maybe I'll try again in the morning after my outing to Castle Rock...