Sat, Jul 2, 2022
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Big Sam previously climbed Tue, Sep 25, 2012|
After crossing the crest to the west side, the trail makes a wide traverse around the top of the Kennedy Creek drainage. I shortcutted this by dropping down to the creek more directly, then following a use trail back up to the Emigrant Trail. It appears this shortcut is used a good deal early in the season when the traversing route holds more snow. I used additional shortcuts to climb the northeast side of Big Sam more directly, reaching the top before noon. The summit offers some really fine views across the Emigrant Wilderness looking south. Tower Peak rises as the monarch of the region along Yosemite's northern boundary. Peak 10,612ft lies about 3/4mi to the southwest, across the upper reaches of the Cherry Creek drainage.
After a brief stay atop Big Sam, I dropped off the Southwest Slopes, bypassing the trail and its collection of switchbacks down the south side of Big Sam. The direct route was certainly faster, but steep with lots of talus and some cliff sections to avoid. Down at the bottom there are a pair of small lakes at the headwaters of Cherry Creek. The climb up the southeast side of Peak 10,612ft is about 500ft of mostly firm talus footing, with lingering snow patches on the east side. I reached the top around 12:35p, just about three hours from the Jeep. There is much rock to be seen looking in most directions from the summit. The most interesting view again is to the south, to the high alpine meadows and lakes between Emigrant Meadow and Emigrant Pass. Of particular interest was a nice view of Grizzly Peak, a summit I had visited on a backpacking trip back in 1995. I had forgotten to grab a few registers when I started out in the morning, so I had none to leave on Peak 10,612ft, though it certainly warrants one.
It was time to start back, though I still had one last summit near the start. I reversed my route off Peak 10,612ft, then used the trail to climb back up to Big Sam - much better than ascending the loose scree I'd come down. Back on the PCT at Kennedy Canyon, a PCTer in a long skirt (Laura Ingalls?) chased me up the trail for half an hour before I outlasted her - I would have felt awfully weak had she passed me with her backpacking load. I turned off the PCT to follow the trail to the high saddle above Leavitt Lake. I found a party of four backbackers lounging about here, looking much too relaxed, and I told them so. They had come up from Leavitt Lake, but had to hike most of the road to reach it because their vehicle wasn't as capable. Tough break, but they seemed to take it in stride. I wished them well as I left the trail to continue up to Peak 10,850ft, about a quarter mile to the east. There is a faint use trail that works nicely to get you to the summit in about 10min. There are three small rock outcrops vying for the highpoint. The westernmost one is definitely lower and I think the easternmost is highest, but I visited the middle one as well. There is a nice view of Leavitt Lake to the west with Leavitt Peak towering above it in the background. To the south is a side view looking into Kennedy Canyon. Rather than return to the trail at the high saddle, I descended more directly towards the lake down moderate talus slopes, taking less than 30min to return to the Jeep. Not yet 4p, I still had 3-4hrs of daylight and a bit of energy remaining for something extra.
I had less than an hour until sunset and decided to camp as high as I could due to warm weather. I drove only a short distance back along the spur road to where I had both cell service and a flat spot to camp right on the road. I didn't expect anyone to be using the road while I was camped there and enjoyed a quiet night with the surrounding hills to myself...
This page last updated: Wed Jul 6 14:55:00 2022
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