Sat, Aug 21, 1993
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Mt. Baldy later climbed Wed, May 13, 2009|
Starting early in the morning, I got dropped off near Incline Lake without ever actually finding a trailhead. I wandered down a road to the lake that had Private Property signs all along it, and I began to think I wasn't the first person who may have wandered into the wrong starting area. I had a topo and knew that I needed to gain the ridge to the west wher I would be on public Wilderness land - but how to get there? I abandoned the road and struck off to the west. I never did find the trail marked on the map that I was looking for, but I didn't really need it. Once on the ridge it was easy to navigate. The top was mostly barren of trees and bushes, offering great views and easy walking.
I started heading north along the ridge, with some vague intention to see if I could reach Mt. Rose. It may have been the LSD I had taken earlier that influenced this poor reasoning, but I'd like to believe it was really that I hadn't looked at the map carefully beforehand. After walking maybe half a mile north and coming to the saddle between Rose Knob Peak to the south and Relay Peak to the north, I decided to look at the map more carefully since the next bit would involve almost a thousand feet of climbing. Mt. Rose was ridiculously far, and there was no way I could reach it and hike over to Kings Beach in any reasonable time. I did an about face and retraced my steps to the south.
I climbed the easy summit of Rose Knob Peak and continued following the ridgeline in a generally southwesterly direction for several hours. The wildflowers were tiny, but abundant and of a great many colors. Simply delightful on a warm, sunny day. The elevation of the ridge is over 9,000ft for a number of miles, and one has the feeling of being in a high alpine environ with outstanding views. Lake Tahoe stretches out for over 20 miles to the south, the sun reflecting gaily off the waters. The temperatures down at lake level were around 90F, but it was 15 degrees cooler at the higher elevation and downright pleasant indeed. To the north was a forested valley formed by the West Fork of Gray Creek, and a popular pack and grazing area. I could see one large party on horseback far below, and was glad to have the ridgetop all to myself.
I hiked along, tagging all the peaks, no matter how small, along the way. From Rose Knob Peak I went to Rose Knob, Rifle Peak, then Mt. Baldy, with perhaps a half dozen unnamed ones in between. On Rifle Peak I found the remnants of an old cairn built some years ago with wooden sticks rising from the middle and remnants of barbed wire about the base. It was long delapidated and looked like some manmade eyesore completely out of place with the beauty of the surroundings. So inspired, I dismantled the monument, tossing the boards down the hillside, leveling the rocks, and binding up the barbed wire and a few discarded bottles to take back and dispose of more properly. I didn't have a backpack with me, just a small fanny pack, so I carried the barbed wire rolled in a coil and the bottles in my hands.
A pack trail rises from the canyon to the north and crosses the ridge near Rose Knob, following on the northeast side of the ridge 100-200ft below the ridgeline. One advantage of following the ridgetop was avoiding this trail, but as I headed down from Rifle Peak to Mt. Baldy I once again crossed the trail. As I did so a lone female on horseback observed me coming down with my coil of barbed wire and asked me what I was doing with it. I explained that I had found it during my hike and was taking it back to dispose of it. With this her face lighted up with delight and she started to tell me about a cache of broken bottles about half a mile down the trail that was a big mess and needed cleaning up, and that would be great if I could get rid of that eyesore. I looked at her with disdain, sitting her fat ass on that horse wondering why in the hell she didn't clean it up and pack it out herself since she had that damned horse that would be doing most of the work of hauling it anyway. Somehow she got it in her head that my purpose was to improve her own Wilderness experience. Of course I didn't tell her what I really felt, but instead thought I'd see if I could instill a bit of guilt with my reply, "Gee, I'm sorry, but as you can see my hands are already full. This is as much as I can carry." "Oh," was all she replied.
I climbed up to Mt. Baldy which offers a nice overview of Kings Beach below. I wasn't really sure where our rental was, but if I reached the main road (SR267) I knew I could follow it up or down to the proper turnoff. I headed down the southwest slope of Mt. Baldy, down into the forested region of Griff Creek. The hardest part was navigating through the chaparral in the middle part of the sloped hillside before I reached the easier traveling found in the forest. There were many downed trees making progress slow, but once on the other side of the creek I came across a forest service road. There was much evidence of woodcutting - apparently this was an area that residents used to chop and collect their own firewood. The place looked a mess with stumps everywhere but no real rhyme or reason to it. There was much evidence of both off-road use and drinking - likely popular with the young locals. My pristine Wilderness experience was officially over (and the acid had long wore off as well). As luck would have it the forest service road took me down to a paved road that was not a block away from our rental - a GPS could hardly have done a better job of navigating me home.
For more information see these SummitPost pages: Rose Knob Peak - Rose Knob - Mt. Baldy
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