Fri, Jun 12, 2020
We'd camped the night near the Tamarack Sno-Park off SR168 and spent about 45min getting to the TH. Most of the 10mi drive was well-graded, but the last two miles are pretty rough and require high-clearance. There were half a dozen cars when we pulled in and several more by the time we returned in the afternoon, though we saw only a few parties while we were out hiking. We got started at 7a, hiking almost 4mi on the trail along Dinkey Creek and past First Dinkey Lake. Our plan was to go after the furthest peak first, Black Peak, then hit the other four in turn on the way back. The trails were mostly clear of downfall and easy to follow, the junctions marked, even if the signage was old and a bit decrepit. The entire hike took place between 8,600ft-9,800ft elevation, and consequently there was almost no snow and relatively easy cross-country travel. Black Peak is a pile of dark-colored rubble, but fortunately the SW Ridge is mostly forested and gets one pretty high on the mountain before the rubble needs to climbed at the very end. We spent two hours on the effort to reach Black Peak, arriving just before 9a. The views are quite grand in all directions, though the weather was partially overcast and not conducive to good photos. A large stretch of the Sierra Crest is visible to the north and east with Three Sisters rising prominently about 3mi to the south. A register was found in a plastic bottle containing pages of poetry and some ramblings by folks I'd never heard of. It was the only register we'd find on the day.
Our second summit was unnamed Peak 9,777ft about a mile and a quarter to the southwest. Our all cross-country route took us on a curve around the South Fork Big Creek drainage, a very pleasant jaunt through forest with a moderate climb up granite slopes on the SE side of the peak, in a bit under an hour. Our views took in Red Mtn to the northwest, Three Sisters to the south, and Foster Ridge to the west, all close to 10,000ft in elevation. It seemed a worthy summit for a register. We descended the steeper SW side of Peak 9,777ft to regain the Dinkey Lakes Trail between First Dinkey Lake and Mystery Lake. We followed this back to a trail junction, taking the fork leading south up to Mystery Lake, involving a minor crossing of Dinkey Creek. We quickly left the trail to head more directly to Peak 9,303ft. This was one of the easier summits on the day and the second lowest. We left another register on this summit. I forgot to take pictures of Mystery Lake below us and Three Sisters above us to the southeast. Looming higher to the north across Dinkey Creek was Foster Ridge, our next destination. It was 11:20a when we left Peak 9,303ft, taking an hour and a quarter to cover the mile distance to Foster Ridge. The descent off the northwest side of Peak 9,303ft was steep granite slopes, followed by a recrossing of Dinkey Creek where a group of backpackers looked on us a bit curiously as we eschewed the trail and made our way fairly directly between the two summits. The SE Slopes of Foster Ridge were a mix of forest and brush, the latter avoided where possible. Karl and I separated early on the ascent as he went more directly up to the long ridgeline, while I made an ascending traverse to land on the ridge closer to the summit. I ended up getting to the highpoint about ten minutes before his arrival. The summit is surrounded by trees, offering no real views.
Our last summit, Peak 9,144ft, was about a mile to the south of Foster Ridge's highpoint. Karl noted that it would have been easer to descend to the jeep and drive back up to the saddle between the last two peaks, but I suggested that it would be more aesthetic to do it in a single loop back to the TH. We descended the easy SSE Ridge of Foster Ridge to the saddle, crossed the road we'd driven in on, then made our way through more forest to the easy summit of Peak 9,144ft, again finding no views. From this last summit, it took about 30min to make our way back down to the TH, finishing up by 1:40p.
I was back to our campsite by 4:30p, still with plenty of daylight but no more energy. I would spend the remaining daylight figuring out an alternate way to Red Mtn and other stuff, while Karl was reading next door. Sometime as evening came on, clouds moved in through the trees unexpectedly and it began to rain. This was soon followed by thunder, lightning and much noisy hail the size of peas, though it didn't leave much on the ground the next morning. It was just enough to make the evening exciting and make us happy we weren't trying to keep dry in a tent pitched on the ground...
This page last updated: Mon Jun 15 15:57:27 2020
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