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.
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 and forest . There is a small
at the summit,
otherwise not much. Some to the south and east.
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 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 where Lakemont Dr makes
a sharp turn to the south. I followed various for
more than a mile, first visiting which has
been designated as the spot
elevation point of 4,445ft. Just to the north is the slightly
higher (by about 12ft) .
Neither summits have any views.
Calaveras Big Trees SP PP
This is the most prominent point in ,
found on its northern boundary near the highway. I parked at a
and followed a road up to
, past half a dozen on
the edge of the park, and found my way to the unimpressive,
after about a mile.
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 .
Without such a vehicle, it's a 2mi hike up the
rough road. No views, nothing of note at save
forest and some small boulders. The highpoint is far from obvious.
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 close to the lodge and hiked one of
the up to .
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
commands the highest ground. Some workers
were congregating about , but there
wasn't much work getting done, far as I could tell.
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 , but it was easy
enough to park at the highway and hike about half a mile on the
trail to . There are good views of
to the northwest and north from the trail.
Laura Newman had visited this one, so it must
be easy. :-)
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
northeast of the lakes
and started from there. I stayed on the trail only a short
distance before striking off .
The trail system in
the area isn't terribly convenient for getting me to the peak,
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
where I got my of
the . 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
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
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
two in fact, near the base of the crack system. It was filled with
many, many entries dating back to the 1990's. The
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
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 . The route is
convoluted, and ,
but the holds are
surprisingly good, no harder than class 4. I made it up to
in a few minutes, elated that I had come back for a second look.
Kyle Atkins had left a small register
. 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 .
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...