Peak 3,475ft P300
Peak 4,420ft P300

Tue, May 11, 2021
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPX

I headed to Stanislaus National Forest for a quick 2-day roadtrip to tag some peaks in the mid-elevation ranges, hopefully where the Forest roads have been opened and cleared - always a hit and miss at this time of year. I left San Jose just before 2p, hoping to avoid rush hour, but I still got stuck in a number of slow downs while escaping the Bay Area. By the time I reached the 3,000-foot elevation along SR120, I had enough daylight for a few short summit efforts.

Peak 3,475ft

This summit is located a short distance north of Buck Meadow. A Forest road is shown getting close to the summit, but it has probably been since the 2013 Rim Fire since it was last driven. It is now badly overgrown with manzanita and other brush, though it appears hunters occasionally use and keep a useful, albeit brushy path through much of it. I had to park at SR120 where I found a locked gate. Signs on the gate indicate that it is open starting Apr 15, but that was not the case. It mattered little, since the undriveable road forks off the driveable portion just past the gate. Almost as soon as I started on the old road, I looked down to find half a dozen ticks on my pant legs. I brushed them off and continued to do so for the entire time I was on the road, some 200+ ticks over the course of less than a mile - one of my worst tick infestations. If I escaped bringing some back into the Jeep, I'd consider myself lucky. The manzanita at this elevation had already flowered and started growing berries, now green and covered in a sticky substance that would get all over my clothing and make it hard to read the screen of my GPSr. Messy stuff. The final quarter mile was a cross-country affair that found me dodging around poison oak and high-stepping over brush and downfall. It was not as bad as it had looked from a distance and thankfully no more ticks. A lonely pine of modest height occupied the highground with no views to speak of, really a retched little peak with no redeeming qualities. Only those with an OCD issue for completion need bother.

Peak 4,420ft

This summit is located a few miles east of Hardin Flat on the south side of SR120. I used the eastern end of paved Hardin Flat Rd to access it. A spur dirt road gets one a bit closer, but it was blocked by downfall before reaching the end. From there, it's a short quarter mile uphill hike to the summit from the south. The brush here is non-trivial, but nothing like the previous peak and I was at the summit in less than 10min. Trees cover much of the summit area, but one can get views of Sawmill Mtn to the northwest and Ascension Mtn to the northeast. There was a small rock cairn found near the highpoint that I partially disassembled looking for a register. No luck. It was 7:30p by the time I finished up and time to call it a day.

After a sunset shower and fresh change of clothes, I drove further up the highway to the Hetch Hetchy road and attempted driving to Aspen Valley inside Yosemite. Unfortunately it was gated and locked at the park boundary, leaving me about 6mi to Aspen Valley. I would have to leave four summits in that area for another time. I reversed course and drove other Forest roads to the vicinity of Ascension Mtn that I would start with in the morning. It was a pretty quiet place, far from the highway and other folks...


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