This was the second day of a short trip to Tahoe National Forest. With smoke
and warm temperatures, it was far from ideal, but I was going a little stir
crazy with so much of the public lands in the higher elevations of the state
closed. I'd spent the night camped just outside the closed forest on Carpenter
Valley Rd, intending to do some peaks in that area in the morning. I spent some
time in the morning driving the accessible roads, but got stopped by locked
gates (unsigned, but private property, most likely) far from where I hoped to
get. I needed
another plan. I drove back out to Interstate 80 and drove west to Cisco Grove
where I found Forest Road 85 open. This gave me access to peaks southeast of
Fordyce Lake, another portion of the national forest I'd yet to visit. I was
able to drive within half a mile of all five of the summits, so none of the
hikes were difficult. I was happy to find there was no real bushwhacking
either, though there was plenty of brush at these elevations if one
wanted some extra fun.
A short, quarter mile hike from the west climbs through heavy forest,
leads to more open slopes in the upper portion with a rounded,
uninteresting summit. I expected some craggy pinnacles that could serve
as roosts for the turkey vultures, but saw nothing but sand, dirt and small
This one at least matched its name. I had an enjoyable half mile hike up the
SW Ridge, staying on the left side where needed to avoid manzanita.
This was the highest and most prominent of the day's mundane peaks, so I left
a register here. Views can be had off the south side of
the summit ridge, trees
blocking those to the north. And the sand wasn't bad at all.
This summit has little prominence, but has some interest. It's a small,
granite outcrop with a bit of fun, albeit trivial scrambling. By all
appearances, it looks to have been the site of a decades-long drinking binge.
Glass bottles of all colors have been cemented or glued in
several locations as though someone had plans for a glass house. It's
a nice view spot overlooking the Soda Springs
area along I80 that might be more easily reached from that direction. Because
of where I was, I approached from the north at the end of spur road about 200ft
higher than Mt. Marliave, one of those rare and odd hikes where you hike down
to a summit.
I saw tire tracks at the summit,
leading me to conclude that one can drive to
the summit from the southwest where a series of roads are shown reaching close
to the summit. It looked like a lot of driving to save a little hiking, so I
simply hiked from FR85 on the north side, about 300ft of elevation in
less than half a mile. An open summit would make for good fews if it
wasn't so smoky.
This was the most interesting summit of the day. Away from the others, it
rises above Fordyce Lake on the southwest side. A very rough 4WD road leads
down from Fordyce Summit to the lake in about two miles. A sign
posted half a
dozen times along the road made me wonder if it was legal to be there, but I
suspect it was just related to the dam access, not the lake. I parked at the
base of a sandy slope
used for off-road sand climbing practice. I hiked up this
and then along the SW Ridge to reach the rocky summit with a fine view
of the lake. Made for a nice finish to a short day.