Peak 4,180ft P300
Manual Peak
Manual Ridge P300
Calaveras Big Trees State Park PP P300
Bailey Ridge P500
Bloods Ridge P500
Osborn Hill
Peak 10,082ft P500 PD / CS

Nov 2, 2020
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 4 5 GPX Profile

I headed up State Route 4 into the Stanislaus National Forest for a three-day road trip. Leaving San Jose around 3:30a, I had planned to drive up to Ebbetts Pass and do a 10mi loop hike on the north side of the highway. Around Arnold, I started looking at my GPSr for some roadside summits and soon got distracted with an entirely different itinerary that grew to eight summits before I was done. None of them had been on part of my pre-game research, but I was able to make them all work with the maps found on the GPSr.

Peak 4,180ft

An easy summit found on the south end of Arnold. There are homes immediately east of the summit with a paved road leading to them, but there is no access to the summit from this side. A good dirt road (suitable for any vehicle) goes around the the west side and a rough use trail can be found going up through the brush and forest from below. There is a small telecom tower at the summit, otherwise not much. Some views to the south and east.

Manual Peak/Ridge

One can't help but think these were named by someone with a poor grasp of Spanish. The two summits are found on the west side of town and the western edge of the national forest. There is an extensive, well-maintained trail system called the Arnold Rim Trail that can be used to access them. Some of the old forest roads have been repurposed as part of the trail system. I started at a locked gate where Lakemont Dr makes a sharp turn to the south. I followed various trails for more than a mile, first visiting Manual Peak which has been designated as the spot elevation point of 4,445ft. Just to the north is the slightly higher (by about 12ft) Manual Ridge. Neither summits have any views.

Calaveras Big Trees SP PP

This is the most prominent point in the state park, found on its northern boundary near the highway. I parked at a locked gate and followed a road up to a water tank, past half a dozen homes on the edge of the park, and found my way to the unimpressive, forested summit after about a mile.

Bailey Ridge

This summit is located above the small community of Ganns on the north side of the highway. With a high-clearance vehicle, this one is a drive-up. Without such a vehicle, it's a 2mi hike up the rough road. No views, nothing of note at the summit save forest and some small boulders. The highpoint is far from obvious.

Bloods Ridge

This it the highpoint of the Bear Valley Ski Area. A dirt road leads to the summit from the east. I found no gates blocking it, but was told it's not a public route, rather used by the ski area folks. I parked close to the lodge and hiked one of the snow-cat roads up to the summit. I'm not sure if they allow the public to hike there - I didn't ask, and the few people that saw me seemed to not care. About 2/3mi each way to the top where a cell tower commands the highest ground. Some workers were congregating about the nearby chairlift, but there wasn't much work getting done, far as I could tell.

Osborn Hill

This minor point lies immediately south of the junction of Mt. Reba Rd and the highway. A nearby SnoPark/Picnic area provides access. The picnic area was closed up, but it was easy enough to park at the highway and hike about half a mile on the trail to the top. There are good views of Bloods Ridge and Mt. Reba to the northwest and north from the trail. Laura Newman had visited this one, so it must be easy. :-)

Peak 10,082ft

This was the best summit of the day, hands down. It is located in the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness about 2.5mi east of Highland Lakes. The dirt road to reach the lakes can be driven by any vehicle. I had been by the summit some years earlier and remembered that the summit block looked very difficult from a distance and seeing as it was late in the day, I bypassed it to leave it for another time. In the meantime, I noticed that Kyle Atkins and Chris Kerth had both claimed an ascent, so I came to believe the summit block must have an easier way up. This seemed like a good outing to finish the day on. I parked at the Gardner Meadow TH northeast of the lakes and started from there. I stayed on the trail only a short distance before striking off cross-country. The trail system in the area isn't terribly convenient for getting me to the peak, though the PCT is in the vicinity, running orthogonal to my line of ascent. The cross-country travel in the area is fairly easy, so the trail is of little consequence. I spent an hour and a half to reach the summit ridge where I got my first view of the summit blocks. They looked hard. Very hard.

Approaching from the north and west, I could see no class 3 way from either side. The north side was impossible, the west side at least having some roped offerings. I wandered around to the south side, expecting the easier way to be found there - nothing doing. Maybe class 5.7-5.8 face climbing, but otherwise nothing I could manage. Back on the west side, A pair of slanting cracks seemed like it might offer a class 4 way up. I went up to give it a try, but only got about 10ft up before getting spooked - the line of ascent kept wanting to push me out of the crack and I felt the holds were insufficient. I went back down and found a register, two in fact, near the base of the crack system. It was filled with many, many entries dating back to the 1990's. The older register, in a rusted tin, had suffered fire damage and was unreadable. I went back up for a second try at the cracks, but backed off once again. This one would need a rope, I decided. I packed up and started back, wondering about Kyle and Chris - had they made it up? I didn't see they're names in the register, but that might not have meant anything - I didn't bother to sign it myself. I had already started back a few hundred feet when I thought I should at least check out the east side to see if there was anything there, even though that side had looked vertical when viewed from the north and south.

I went further around the north side and noticed there was indeed some broken features on the east side. I couldn't get there from the north because of a steep chimney/groove dropping far down and blocking access. I went back around the south side and found that was the key to access the east side chimney. The route is convoluted, near-vertical and difficult, but the holds are surprisingly good, no harder than class 4. I made it up to the top in a few minutes, elated that I had come back for a second look.

Kyle Atkins had left a small glass jar register in 1975. He had used the cracks on the west side - his abilities rocketed skywards in my estimation. There were three pages of entries, the most recent in 2015. None of the other entries described which route they had used. This was certainly a very fine summit block, one of the best in the range. After taking a few pictures and signing the register, I carefully retraced my route using the same foot and hand-holds. There really wasn't much in the way of alternatives. Once back on easier ground, I relaxed more and had an enjoyable walk back to Highland Lakes. Once again, I went mostly cross-country, finding a little waterfall surprise (the surprise was that there was actually water flowing in November) and exploring a small gorge back near the trailhead. Lots of ice in the shady gorge foretold of cold nighttime temperatures. A very fine way to finish off the day...


Marcus comments on 11/04/20:
Nice work on PK 10082. This is in PB as Bull Lake Peak and has an ascent (but no TR) from Clement Guillaume as well. I went to the base of the summit blocks a couple years ago and quickly gave up. I'll have to take a look at the south route on a future visit.
Laura N comments on 02/07/21:

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