Corral Ridge

Sat, Mar 18, 2006
Etymology Story Photos / Slideshow Map Profile

I had hoped to get out and bag a handful of peaks somewhere, maybe put in a bunch of miles and break a sweat. But the weather wasn't cooperating, much like it had failed to do on the previous month's outing. Rather than slog along rain-soaked trails or try to snowshoe through waist deep powder, I decided to go snowboarding with friends instead. Three of us spent a fine day at Bear Mtn on a crowdless Friday, doing our best to track up as much of the 24" of new snow that we could. It was quite fun. No new snow was in the forcast for the following day, and being a Saturday I expected the crowds to show up and the fun to be, well, less fun. So while the others went back for more skiing, I decided to snowshoe out to nearby Corral Ridge, the highpoint of Calaveras County. The ridge is easily visible from the backside of Bear Mtn where the Hibernation chair is located. But its status as a highpoint is completely lost to the average skier. The ski area summit is higher than Corral Ridge, and the ridge has no obvious highpoint, even close up. It looks just like an ordinary ridge outside the ski area boundary. But the line between Calaveras and Alpine counties was drawn on a map running north-south between Bear Mtn and Corral Ridge, and the latter was afforded some dubious importance by county highpointers.

We were late arriving at the ski area, but with beautiful blue skies and not so far to go, I wasn't worried about getting an early start. I took a route through the ski area to allow me to make most of the approach on machine-groomed roads. I stayed close to the southern boundary of the ski area to keep out of the way of skiers as well as to enjoy the views along the two mile long ridge that runs east-west over Bear Mtn. I expected it might take me several hours to push through the deep, untracked snow for the last mile outside the ski area boundary, but as luck would have it I only had to wade through the waist deep stuff for a short distance. Along the ridgetop I found the snow more consolidated and I only sank in 6-8" which made for much easier going, and it took me half the time I expected. In fact the whole outing took only four hours, about 6 miles round trip. I even got an hour and half of snowboarding in when I got back, and because they had stopped checking for lift tickets hours earlier, it didn't cost a dime.

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