Bald Mountain P300
Pine Ridge
Peak 7,912ft P300
Tamarack Ridge
Tamarack Mountain P300
Flume Peak P500

Thu, Jun 11, 2020
Etymology
Bald Mountain
Pine Ridge
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 4 GPX Profile

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.

Bald Mountain

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.

Pine Ridge

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.

Peak 7,912ft

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.

Tamarack Ridge

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.

Tamarack Mountain

This peak lies on the west side of SR168, across from Tamarack Ridge. The 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

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 anyway, 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...

Continued...


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