Bear Ridge P300
Mono BM P300

Aug 26, 2020
Bear Ridge
Mono BM
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Bear Ridge is a 4-mile line ridgeline on the southeast side of Lake Thomas Edison. On the last of a 3-day roadtrip, I wanted a half day outing that could have me home in San Jose before sunset, and this seemed like a good candidate. There are two summits with more than 300ft of prominence along the ridge, spaced about 2.8mi apart. My plan was to use the Bear Ridge Trail to climb about halfway up to the higher summit, then head cross-country from there. The biggest unknown was the ridgeline between the two summits. I had been worn out after doing only 2mi of ridgeline the previous day, so this could have been worse, in which case I'd probably forgo the second summit. As it turned out, the 2.8mi of ridgeline were delightful, the best part of the three days, allowing me to leave the area on a high note.

I had gotten up at 5a after sleeping almost 10hrs, just what the body needed after a rough day. Sleep is far better than food under such circumstances, I've concluded. I was starting off from the Bear Ridge TH by 5:45a, using my headlamp for only about 5min before I could see well enough to put it away. I had last been on this trail 15yrs earlier with Matthew and Rick on our way to Recess Peak. By headlamp we had had trouble staying on the trail, but I had no such issue today. The trail climbs steadily with short switchbacks, sticking well north and below the crest of the ridge. After about 20min, the trail crosses over the NW Ridge of the higher summit, marking the place to leave the trail. My first thought upon looking up the manzanita-blanketed ridge was that the ridge was not going to be the easiest way to the summit. Instead, I made my way to the right (southwest) side of the ridge where forested areas looked to make for easier travel. I had only gone about 30ft through some initial manzanita when I lost my balance and tumbled onto my back. My left foot was pinned under a branch and my hands seemed useless, as though I was a tortoise turned on his back. I had to laugh at my predicament and first thought to take a picture before eventually righting myself. I stuck to the line of trees at the edge of the brush, going through some areas of heavy downfall but mostly finding easier going. As the slope began to steepen near the end, the brush gave way to granite slabs and boulders that led nicely upwards. I reached the summit by 7a, finding the remains of a wooden survey tower and a benchmark. The actual highpoint was found about 100ft to the northeast without much in the way of views thanks to the trees. I left a register here while considering the descending ridgeline to Mono BM.

It was quite early still, so I had little worry about running up against my noon time limit. My only real concern, as already mentioned, was the difficulties that could be encountered in the nearly 3mi of ridgeline to Mono BM. The manzanita I'd run into earlier was on my mind as the most likely deterrent. I had been a little surprised to see so much on the north side of the crest, since the south sides usually get more brush and the north sides are generally more forested. What I found was almost ideal - pleasant, mostly-open terrain through forest and granite slabs along the ridgeline. There was some brush to be sure, but it was pretty easy to avoid and one simply has to pay attention. The north side of the ridge generally offered cleared forest understory and the south side more brush, much as anticipated. Mostly it was just a walk along the very ridge with some undulations on the downhill-trending hike. There were some very old tree specimens growing in places and nice views to Lake Edison and the Silver Divide off the north side. In all I spent a little under two hours on the traverse between summits.

At Mono BM I found several collapsed survey structures, one the typical wooden structure of the USGS (or in this case, the US Coast and Geodetic Survey), the other some metal pipes and irons, possibly from when the utility was surveying for the reservoir. I was unable to find the benchmark but did locate a reference mark stamped with "MONO". Chris Kerth had visited five years earlier, so I added his name in a register I would leave at the summit. For the descent, I took what seemed the most expeditious route, dropping down granite slabs on the north side to intersect the Lake Edison Road which I could follow back to my starting point. The cross-country was less than a mile to reach the road, and a little more than a mile hiking the road to get back, taking just under an hour from the summit of Mono BM. No brush of any consequence on this leg, nothing more than class 2 for the entire loop. It wasn't yet 10a, leaving me plenty of time for a leisurely visit and swim in Mono Creek before driving home - a very nice way to end the short roadtrip.

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