I decided to head to some snow-free summits on the western edge of the
Stanislaus NF, around the 4-5,000ft level, between SR108 and SR120. I had been
to the area in 2013 to visit Duckwall Mtn, the only P1K in the area. The 2013
Rim Fire had burned just prior to my arrival and scars were very fresh. I was
happy to see that the slopes are slowly making their recovery as they tend to
do in areas used to fire, and even if they don't recover at a pace humans might
prefer, they do so at a pace that the rest of nature is just fine with. This
trip was designed to hit as many of the surrounding peaks as possible, more of
a driving exercise in the Jeep than a hiking one. None of the hikes were longer
than about half a mile each way to the summit, though each required at least
some time out of the car. No drive-ups today.
From the town of Tuolumne, I drove northeast on Forest Rte 1N04 (aka Cottonwood
Rd, nicely paved) for about ten miles. I left the pavement to take various dirt
roads to the southwest side of
at the junction with FR02N34A. This
spur road is shown going to the summit of Murphy in half a mile, but I found
the by downfall and encroaching brush. It doesn't look like
this road in maintained anymore, but is still reasonable for foot traffic if you
don't mind navigating the downfall (that seemed to be of the
whole trip, really). There's a bit of at the very end to
reach a bit of rock serving as , buried in brush and trees.
About 35min for the roundtrip effort.
This summit lies a little over a mile west of Murphy Peak. I was able to drive
FR02N34 west towards the peak, but the spur FR02N34C that goes close to the
summit was by downfall. 45min was required for the effort,
again due to brush and trees. Neither of these first two peaks
were within the Rim Fire zone.
There was much driving, taking most of the next hour. Peak 4,908ft
had burned in the Rim Fire and the brush came back with a vengeance. There are
two Forest roads shown forking off FR02N11 towards the summit, one of them
right to the top. Both are no longer maintained. The one going to the summit
was badly , but still better than going
cross-country. Higher up, , but the summit was so
unimpressive that I forgot to take a photo. Rather than climb back over all that
downfall, I decided to drop off of the summit to
intercept and follow that back. The cross-country wasn't too
bad (seems this slope hadn't burned much at all), but the road had lots of
downfall and may not have been any easier in the end. Interestingly, I saw a lot
of over the few days I was
driving around - many of these looked like healthy pines that snapped off,
usually less than 8" in diameter. I don't know if they had been weakened by
an infestation, but high winds in the area seemed to play havoc with some of
the younger trees.
I messed up my navigation some by going to Peak 4,908ft before this one.
Consequently, I had to backtrack along half of the road I had previously
driven before forking off to Peak 4,025ft. Another hour of driving, though not
goes neatly right by the summit, though blocked
the last part of this. Still, it was only a five minute walk to the summit with
some bushwhacking to get to above the roadway. No views
Wet Meadow Hill
Another hour of driving, half of that back-tracking to Peak 4,908ft to reverse
my earlier navigation error. A downed tree gave me pause as I had to go up on
the left bank of the roadway to the fallen tree. Past
this, got me within a few hundred feet of the summit on the
southeast side. Two minutes' effort on foot got me to
with to the south.
There are around 90 summits in the state named after the lumps of sugar that
were common in the 1800s. is found about two miles southeast
of Wet Meadow Hill and once had a USFS lookout at the top.
blocked what would otherwise be a drive-up, but the hike was still fairly short.
was rife on the slopes I had to cross to get around a large,
fallen tree. There is a small utility shed at and a
fantastic view looking down into the .
I had bypassed this one earlier on the way to Wet Meadow Hill, but picked it up
on the drive back out to FR01N01. The summit is bypassed by
a short but steep climb up from the north. had an abundance
of poison oak and it was impossible to avoid all of it, so I took to stomping on
it as needed to keep from brushing against it. This contaminated the bottoms
of my boots, of course, but they would become uncontaminated with continued use
throughout the day. It was nice to see lots of
regrowing after the Rim Fire.
Rawles BM was only partially burned in the Rim Fire. Some of the pines survived
and these no doubt are helping to reseed the surrounding area. Enroute on the
drive, I paused at one point to get out to remove a freshly fallen tree. It had
a diameter less 3 inches, which is my reasonable limit with .
Further up it was , but the road doesn't go to the
summit anyway. I got more exercise clambering over to
reach . I found
in the grass and weak views through the trees. Less than 30min for the roundtrip
These last three summits are all found to the east, across the gorge formed by
, a tributary of the Tuolumne River. FR01N01
switchbacks down to the river to 2,400ft, goes over , and
then switchbacks up to 4,000ft. I found
narrow, with brush and with some scary
partial washouts, but passable. I half-expected to find the road
blocked around each corner, leaving me with an impossible turn-around, but was
more than a little happy to find it could be driven the entire distance, an
effort that took me an hour and a half. I was able to drive FR01N79 to the
southwest side of Peak 4,525ft. At a small turnout there, it appeared that a
bulldozer had driven up the hillside through the forest, perhaps as part of
a firebreak effort during the Rim Fire. I hiked , then
found along the ridge running northeast to
. This made for
a pleasant little hike, even if the summit offered no views and no obvious
highpoint. 20min sufficed for the roundtrip.
Driving further east, I entered an area that had been
the fire. Almost everything had been torched, leaving almost no live trees.
Salvage operations had removed most of the trees in many areas. Peak 4,222ft
was not one such area, however. The snags on the north side of the peak are
all still standing and the brush has gotten annoyingly thick. FR01N01A is
signed for No Trespassing and on a parcel of private ranch land.
outside the gate and went over, soon within the NF lands. I could not find a
way up through
from this side and had to give up the effort.
Another burn will be needed, or perhaps an approach from a different direction.
This one is a near drive-up using FR01N07Y. A short walk over
got me to near sunset. Not
a tree or bush to block from the summit. I decided to camp here
for the night, enjoying
across the western sky. More fun on tap for the next day...