Lookout Mountain
Peak 10,793ft P300

Sun, Jun 25, 2017

With: Tom Becht
Karl Fieberling

Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPX Profiles: 1 2


While Karl and I had no fixed timetable to return home, Tom was saddled with a job that would require his attendance the next day in Los Angeles. Wanting to get home at a reasonable time to function the next day, we had roughly a half day to explore the Coyote Flat area southwest of Bishop. He'd driven up the Coyote Valley Rd a year earlier but had not had time to climb anything on that trip. Today we would go after a few easy summits. I'd have preferred a longer outing to tackle Peak 12,362ft, the highest point in the area, but that would have to wait for another time - it's probably good that I don't always get my way. Despite its proximity to Bishop where we were staying at the Moose Lodge, the drive is quite long and would take something like 90min each way - this certainly has the effect of eating into one's available time in a big way. For the second day in a row, Laura joined us for the drive, but spent time studying while we were off hiking.

Lookout Mountain

Despite our early rising at 5a, it would 8a before we had negotiated Coyote Valley Rd and a few spur roads to get us within a mile of Lookout Mtn on its southwest side. The road is rough in places - high-clearance might be sufficient but 4WD adds a great deal of certainty to the experience. There was some minor snow high up to negotiate, but otherwise the route was mostly clear. The soils here are sandy and super absorbant, leaving no mud as the snow melts off. Parked on Coyote Ridge at 11,000ft, our hike was pretty trivial, gaining about 300ft all told. Spending less than half an hour enroute, we reached the open summit by 8:30a with really nice views commensurate with the summit's name. A register there dated to 2001, but the real prize is the near views of the Eastern Sierra profile that takes in a 30mi sweep from the southern Palisades around through the Inconsolable Range and further to Mt. Tom in the north.

Peak 10,793ft

Back at the Jeep, we drove back down the road, picking Laura up along the way. We chided her for wandering away from the Jeep to photograph the wildflowers, putting her studies aside. "Where's the commitment?!" Karl implored. As we were driving back down to the main junction and then onwards to Coyote Flat, it was apparent to me that we wouldn't have enough time for the tougher peak I was interested in, Peak 12,362ft. Two other summits, Round Mtns and Sugarloaf were in Tom's sights, both of which I had already climbed. After confirming that was the plan Tom was driving towards, I suggested they drop me off at the flattish saddle near the old airstrip so that I could climb unnamed Peak 10,793ft instead. I was quickly disembarked and they continued on their way. Realizing I had left my GPSr in the Jeep I shouted after them to hold up, but they heard nothing of my pleas and were soon out of sight. The peak was obvious to the northeast less than a mile away, so it was only for the purpose of saving the track that I might have need of it. I would have to resort to the old-fashioned method of dead-reckoning to find my way on this one.

I spent about 40min making my way to the summit, finding only some mild brush to contend with though it looked like it could be more troublesome from below. The North side of the mountain is extensively forested, but the southwestern slopes I ascended were more open as were the views looking south from the highest rocks. I kept an eye out for the Jeep parked somewhere on the high plateau between Round and Sugarloaf, but try as I might, I could see no sign of them anywhere. Figuring I had plenty of time to wait for them once I returned to the road, I took a more indirect route on the return, heading southeast and south off the summit and into a pleasant draw leading down to a spur road I could take back to the main one. Along the way I paused to photograph small patches of wildflowers in brilliant displays of pink, yellow, white and violet. I would get back to the main road by 11:15a but would have to wait around another hour before they'd return to pick me up. Seems they sent me a text that they were heading to the second summit, but since my phone was back in Bishop it did me little good. Still, I could have done far worse - the breeze kept down all the bugs and the temperature was close to ideal for simply lying about in the meadow to wait for them. They were not long after the time I was expecting them, after which the four of us drove back down to Bishop for a late lunch. Though perhaps not much of a workout, the day proved an enjoyable one.


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