Flume BM P500
Peak 6,428ft P300

Wed, May 20, 2020
Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPX Profiles: 1 2

I was heading to the Southern Sierra for the Memorial Day Weekend, joining Karl, Tom and a handful of others. I got an early start by leaving Wednesday morning after my wife went off to work. I didn't get out of San Jose until after 10a, so it would be after 3p before I got started on the first of two hikes. Both peaks are located in the narrow band between the Kern River to the west and the Rincon Fault to the east. There is a string of more than ten summits running S-N found along this unusual formation. I'd done several of these on previous trips but came back to do some of lesser, unnamed ones. The second peak took much longer than I anticipated, such that it was quite dark by the time I finished up by headlamp - a surprisingly full day for such a late start.

Flume BM

This summit is located a few miles north of Kernville, easily accessed from the Cannell Meadow Trail that starts from the north side of town at the main highway. The trail can be used to reach Sherman Pass in something over 23mi, a tough haul with more than 7,000ft of elevation gain. I used this trail and TH on a previous occasion to visit Powers Peak to the east across the Rincon Fault from Flume BM. The latter is much easier, some 1,600ft lower, and I'm not sure why I didn't just do them both together. Flume BM is named for the power-generating flume that traverses the west side of the peak before plummeting more than 600ft to a powerhouse located on the Kern River. The Cannell Meadow Trail runs along the south and east side of the peak to reach a saddle on the Rincon Fault. I left the trail before reaching this saddle when it looked like I had a clear shot up the grassy SE slopes. It took less than 50min to reach the open summit where a cairn, benchmark and busy geocache register is found. An old signal reflector resembling a drive-in theater screen is found at the south end of the summit ridge. I took a photo of Tom Becht's entry from 2017, along with a few photos looking south and north before starting back down. I was done by 4:40p, taking all of an hour and a half for the 3mi outing.

Peak 6,428ft

Flush with an easy success, I drove north a short distance to a dirt road that leads up to a siphon, part of the same flume. This road is decently graded such that most vehicles can manage it. I parked at the same turnout I'd used previously to visit Yellow Jacket Peak which lies north of the dirt road and west of the Rincon Fault. Across the saddle is the higher Peak 6,428ft. I thought it would be an easy deal to hike up the Rincon Fault gully to the saddle, much as I'd done for Yellow Jacket six years earlier. That first visit had been shortly after a fire had swept over the mountain and relatively easy. Today it was half-choked with poison oak and and other brush and it took only a few minutes to pick up the first of several ticks. This would not do. After perusing the map, I decided to head uphill to the east and get out of the gully. The poison oak gave way to less noxious shrubs with less density. It was a steep climb initially, giving way to a pleasant ridgeline walk about 200ft above the gully, eventually veering right to climb steeply for another 1,500ft. Some class 3 scrambling was encountered, not exactly welcome considering the lateness of the afternoon. More scrambling along Peak 6,428ft's South Ridge seemed to go on for far longer than the actual mile it entailed. It took me 2.5hrs to reach the summit not even two miles away, about an hour longer than I'd anticipated. It was nearly 7:30p by this time and only a few minutes from sunset. I took a few quick photos, left a register and started down without taking much time for rest. Not wanting to return the same way, I chose to descend the west side (more tough scrambling) to the saddle and then down the gully. From what I'd seen earlier, the upper part of the gully wasn't as brush-choked, and proved faster than the ascent route. I sidehilled along the east bank of the gully when the brush became unmanageable, eventually reconnecting with the first part of the ascent route when I climbed out of the gully. I overshot the descent route into the canyon, but this proved fortuitous. By now I was using my headlamp as it was quite dark and I would not have been able to easily identify the poison oak. The longer route I used had only grass and easy brush on it, and though steep, was fairly workable by headlamp without crashing and burning. It was nearly 9p by the time I returned, quite tired.

Having eaten an early dinner on the drive from San Jose, I didn't need to eat anything but I did want a shower. I drove to my meeting spot with Karl where I cleaned up and got ready for bed. Karl showed up only about 15min after me and only a few minutes before I was heading off to bed. We caught up briefly before doing so, then it was off to some well-earned sleep...


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