I returned to the Sierra National Forest for another 4 days, looking to visit
most of the peaks around the Shaver Lake area that I'd left off previous trips.
I left San Jose around 7:30a, giving me more than half a day and plenty of
daylight with the summer solstice so near. The first five peaks were all easy
efforts and I had hopes that the last one would be, too. But alas, that one
became a beast of a different color and would make sure I was pretty exhausted
by the time I was through. Afterwards, I met up with Karl with plans to climb
together the next three days.
Found just off Auberry Rd, this summit lies on private property within the
national forest. My first effort was to reach it from the west off Bald Mtn
Rd (seemed to make sense) where the topo map shows a 4WD road going to the top.
This road no longer exists, as a rural community has been built up where it
once started. The better approach is from the east off Alder Heights Rd. This
road services a few homes on the east and south sides of Bald Mtn, but an
unsigned spur road past the first home leads nicely right to
a gate at the very summit. There is no development at the top
where you can walk around and take in the non-views of a utility pole
and some trees. Easy, but not very interesting.
This is the highpoint on the south side of Shaver Lake. The summit lies within
national forest lands, but adjacent to the Old Bretz Mill neighborhood of Shaver
Lake. I parked off Garnet Ln and walked a few hundred yards into the adjacent
forest. The neighbor I parked next to eyed me suspiciously, walking along the
perimeter of his yard with his large dog on the end of a short leash as I
disappeared into the trees. I found two summits of equal height. The western
one is an easy scramble with a modest view
overlooking the forest and a few
of the neighborhood homes. The eastern one is found a few hundred feet from
the western one, a class 5 summit block about 15ft in height. I climbed atop
an adjacent block about 2ft lower, but could not find a safe way up the higher
one. It is buried more deeply in the forest and really has little to offer
other than the climbing challenge. When I got back to the jeep, the neighbor I'd
seen earlier came over to talk. I started by apologizing if I'd worried him at
all. He had no such concern by this time and had shifted gears. After watching
me walk into the forest, he concluded I must be one of the ConEdison
forestry folks. He was really hoping I was, because there are some dead trees
adjacent to his property that he would like to have removed before they fall on
his home. I gave him no such relief, but we parted on good terms.
The next three summits are all found east and northeast of Shaver Lake off
SR168. The Tamarack Sno-Park is the turn-off for Peak 7,912ft and Tamarack
Ridge. Forest Road 9 (9S09), suitable for any vehicle, goes south for about a
mile. I parked where the road turns east and hiked south uphill
through easy cross-country to the summit. It was only after nearing
the top that I discovered there's a jeep road going over the summit -
it's not shown on the topo map, but you can see it in the satellite view.
Views are mostly blocked by trees, but by walking about the large,
flat summit area, you can get views to Bald Mtn to the south (not the
same Bald Mtn I climbed earlier) and Kaiser Peak to the north. I spent
less than 35min on the roundtrip effort.
This is even easier than the previous summit, a short 10min hike directly from
the Tamarack Sno-Park with very little gain. A small pile of granite
rock acts as the highpoint with decent, but not great views.
This peak lies on the west side of SR168, across from Tamarack Ridge.
Coyote Sno-Park is located just up the highway from the Tamarack Sno-Park and
can be used to access Tamarack Mtn. High-clearance vehicles can drive Forest
Rd 9S27 and 9S40A around the west side of the mountain to a saddle on
the north side. It takes less than five minutes to reach
the summit with weak views through the forest.
Flume Peak lies a few miles west of Shaver Lake and SR168. Forest Rd 9S21,
also called Mill Creek Rd, can be used to reach a saddle between Flume Peak
and Mt. Stevenson. From there, it's about half a mile of cross-country to the
summit of Flume Peak. This option was closed at the time due to active
logging operations on that road. A look at the topo map shows a network of
roads on the north side of the mountain with one reaching very near the top.
It was this much longer alternative route that I went after since it was only
2p when I finished with Tamarack Mtn. I spent just over an hour driving between
the two. I used a forest road around the south side of Musick Mtn called Dawn
Road on the topo map which was pretty slow-going due to a large number of
downed trees. They had all been cut and just barely cleared, making for slow
driving as I weaved around countless obstacles. The better road would have been
the nicely graded one around the north side of Musick Mtn. After crossing
Stevenson Creek (the outlet of Shaver Lake), I found myself on the north side
of Flume Peak almost 2,000ft below the summit. The spur roads shown on the topo
map are no longer open to vehicles and barely useable for foot traffic
due to excessive downfall. Much of the forest elevations below 7,000ft
in the Shaver
Lake area are suffering from a beetle infestation that is killing many trees.
These eventually fall over, leaving far more downfall than would normally be
found in a healthier forest.
I didn't know just how bad the downfall was when I started out
around 3p, thinking it would take a little over an hour to make the 2.5mi trek
to the top. It would end up taking almost two hours just for the ascent, thanks
to the logs and brush covering the road. The cross-country would have been
worse, since there was lots of poison oak
in the lower half and the downfall
and brush were even worse than along the road. I dutifully followed the various
roads most of the way up. I eventually left the road with
about half a mile to go, taking 30min to cover that last distance. There was
no poison oak above 5,200ft and the forest understory was a bit more open than
it had been lower down. The summit proved to be a clump of rocks under
some small oak trees with very limited views. I left a register here
mostly because it will probably see very little traffic. I don't know if the
eastern approach from Shaver Lake is better (it could be a bushwhack for that
last half mile, for all I know), but I can't really recommended the route I
used - surely there must be a better way to reach the summit.
On my drive back out, I passed by an orange Element parked at the start of the
spur road to the Musick Mtn Lookout. It occurred to me that it could be Karl's
but I didn't really know. After returning to the town of Shaver Lake, I got a
text from Karl that he'd just reached Musick Mtn. Funny coincidence. We took
the opportunity to meet up at the Hungry Hut in town for dinner. Can't say the
food was great, but it was better than canned soup and we caught
up before heading to the Tamarack Sno-Park area where we would spend the
night. Bigger day planned for tomorrow...