I was in Tuolumne County and the Stanislaus NF for some peakbagging to modest
summits - high enough to avoid the heat at the lower elevations, low enough
to avoid snow. The morning was spent between SR120 and the Tuolumne River,
while the afternoon was spent north of the river, in the vicinity of Cherry
Lake. I had spent the night camped on the north side of Ascension Mtn, my first
stop on the day. I would have none of the ticks I had encountered the previous
day, but plenty of brush. Most of these peaks had burned in the 2013 Rim Fire
to varying degrees, leaving ,
tons of downfall and thriving brush -
not ideal conditions for peakbagging, but one works with what one's given.
From my campsite, I roughly followed the NE Ridge to the summit in about half
an hour. There was through the low brush, but this
to lose where downfall was plentiful, with some careful route-finding needed
to avoid heavier brush in places. I got to the top not long after sunrise,
with a partial view to Sawmill Mtn to . I left
here before returning the same way.
There are some well-maintained Forest roads in the vicinity of these first
three summits that any vehicle can navigate. I drove such roads from my campsite
around to the north side of Bear Mtn several miles NE of Ascension Mtn. A spur
gets one higher on Bear Mtn, leaving about 1/5mi to
the summit. This took all of about seven minutes to reach the top. There is
a partial view to the Tuolumne Gorge to ,
but you have to imagine
there's water down there. Nowhere can the river be seen, nor Hetch Hetchy
Reservoir which you have to know is down there, out of view. The fire left a
number of the taller trees still standing, though plenty of less fortunate
souls are lying in charred heaps .
Back on the better roads, I drove southeast to the north side of Ackerson Mtn,
a few miles in that direction and about two miles due east of Ascension Mtn.
This one took about 25min to reach the summit, a messier affair with more
brush, all on the ascent.
I found what looked like , poorly constructed, running
over the summit ridge. There are two summits, the appearing to
be higher. I left there with decent views
. I followed the half-ass trail on the way back, finding
it connected to
running down the NW side to a saddle on that side where one of the better roads
crosses it. I suspect it was created as a firebreak during the fire in 2013.
This would probably have been the easier way to go up the mountain. It didn't
lead back to where I'd parked, so I had some hiking
at the end.
This peak is located within Yosemite National Park. I drove paved Evergreen Rd
(aka Hetch Hetchy Road) to the Evergreen Lodge where a moderately rough dirt
road forks off to the east towards the park. The folks at the lodge seem to
maintain this road for the use of their guests, as I saw them doing trimming
work as I drove in. The topo map shows the road continuing into the park with
a cherry stem into the Wilderness several more miles to a water tank and a park
trail. The road was at the ,
about a mile northwest of Peak 6,220ft. I simply and headed
up . There was less brush on this one, probably due to the
higher elevation, though it still had challenges and lots of downfall. I spent
about 45min reaching the top where I found two points vying for highpoint
honors. I measured to be about a foot higher than
southeast, though it was easily within the error range - best to visit both
points for full credit. blocked most of the views.
These next two summits are found along paved Mather Rd, running west along the
south rim of the Tuolumne River from Mather. I used a dirt road to get
, but starting from the pavement would have been nearly
as good. from the south was mostly clear of vegetation and
trees, making cross-country travel a snap until nearing the summit. Then the
usual brush returned. There are no views of the gorge, but partial views to
looks like a weak effort was made to bulldoze a path across this summit, but
appears to have been abandoned before completion.
About three miles further west, Peak 4,500ft is most easily reached from
at the junction of several forest roads. A
can be found through the low heather. An
not shown on the topo map once went over the summit, traces of which can still
be found. It did not seem helpful for navigation purposes as I lost it fairly
easily. is wide and flattish with poor views despite few
trees. I found a register jar with from the fire.
Hells Mountain - Peark 7,071ft
This was the most interesting outing of the day. The two summits are located
of the Emigrant Wilderness, about four miles north of Cherry
Lake. The name Hells Mountain suggests hours of horrendous bushwhacking to
reach an awful summit, but I was happy to find this was not the case. The
hardest part may have been the drive on barely cleared forest roads to get
in the vicinity. From Jawbone Pass, I first tried to drive FR2N05A, but that
ended in an overgrown mess that took some effort to extract myself from. I
went back to Jawbone Pass and drove 2N05 which was better, but had not yet been
driven on this year and required . I had a tow strap that
I used to move 3-4 fallen trees , eventually
by trees I had no chance of moving. I was within 2mi
of Hells Mtn, so I figured I was close enough.
I hiked the road for about 15min before coming to at a loop in
a small meadow area. The topo map shows the road continuing, but it has been
decades since it was driven. It is now , making it
hard to follow on foot up to the ridgeline where it ends. From this point, I
followed the ridge NNE towards Hells Mtn. My GPSr showed a trail not shown on
the current topo (but it can be found on historical topos). I found a selection
of along the route as I followed the ridge, though I found little
evidence of the old trail. I found that had been formed into
the letters (initials?) "BOR", and wondered how old they might be - this is
certainly a lightly traveled area. The going was pretty good once
, taking me about 45min to reach the summit blocks. I
believe , the easier of the two, to be the
highest, though it was hard to tell. Views from the top are nice, including a
good one of Cherry Lake to . I left before
tackling . That one was overhanging
on three sides, but I found a sketchy class 4 way up the west side. I was not
comfortable until I was back down again. I had thought I would turn back at
this point, but I was feeling like I had enough energy for the second summit
about 3/4mi further along the ridge.
The first half of the traverse between the two went smoothly with little brush,
but I found things brushier on the second half, slowing me down, sending me
looking for better ways to one side of the ridge or the other. The brush
relented at , leaving me an open ridgeline with nice views after
40min's work. The best view of the day was had from the summit, looking
into the West Fork of Cherry Creek. The cascading waters could be seen running
down the center of the glacier-carved valley, snows of the higher peaks in
the background. It was really a beatiful setting, even better than Hells Mtn.
I left a second register here before finding my way back along the ridge. It
took an hour and a quarter to to the Jeep, figuring I was
probably done for the day now that it was after 5p. on the drive
back down lifted my spirits.
But not quite. I spent the next hour driving back down to the paved Cherry Lake
Rd, then up us FR2N14. I about 1/3mi NE of the summit at a road
junction. There used to be going to the summit
from this point, but it has been abandoned, destroying the
beginning portion. I was able to use much of to reach
in 15min. No views from the top.
I was back to the Jeep by 6:40p, about 20min before sunset.
After showering, I spent the next hour and a half with more driving, eventually
landing myself at
where I would spend the night. It
had been a long day, and both the Jeep and myself could use some rest...