I was in the Stanislaus National Forest for a few days of lower-elevation
peakbagging, hoping to avoid snow and road closures one can expect in the
higher elevations during April. I had partial success with this, finding most
of the day's summits accessible, but those I had planned for a third day less
so. I'd spent the night camped near the summit of Peak 4,408ft, the previous
day's last summit. It was a gloriously isolated spot at the end of a Forest
road with open views in all directions. I was up early to begin my day before
sunrise in chilly temperatures. Most of the day's peaks were fairly short
hikes as I spent nearly as much time exploring in the Jeep as I did on foot.
The summit burned in the 2013 Rim Fire and was salvage logged, clearing it
of brush, snags and most everything. Partially burned slash litters the ground.
I drove to of Pt. 4,429ft just south of the summit and walked
the short distance to . For some reason, this summits
seems slower to recover from the fire than others I visited the previous day.
It took about 15min to climb to the summit of this one
. I followed an old road on foot for about half the
distance, then went more directly up to
. Though only a few miles from the first summit, it had plenty
of grass and brush growing on , and some ,
too. Many snags were
still standing, though they were , not the sort that
would yield commercial timber. Lying on private timber land, it seems likely
that this summit had been logged before the 2013 fire.
This summit overlooks the Cherry Creek drainage below Cherry Lake. There is a
telecom installation at and FR01N86 makes it a drive-up. I
walked around to take in the views. The best was of
Cherry Lake to . A few trees survived the fire (probably
when working to save the telecom installation), but many dead snags stand on
There is a decomissioned fire lookout atop Woods Ridge, which lies in the
middle of private timber lands owned by Sierra Pacific. The roads leading to
the summit were , but one can hike the area on foot or
bike. I parked to the southwest along paved Cherry Lake Rd, then walked about
three miles of various dirt roads to the summit. There was on
portions of the road and , likely why I found the gate
locked - I wouldn't have gotten much further up the road in the Jeep anyway.
The stands about 80ft high, with a tiny little cab at
the top with just enough room to and look out the
windows on all sides. Climbing it was a bit intimidating - the stair steps are
all wood, and not trusting them with my life, I stepped to the
where they were secured to the iron railing.
Below and to the north are that served as the
residence for the lookout. Doors were open and the in disarray.
This lookout does not have a volunteer group to keep it up, from the look of
things. The from the cab stretch out over a huge swath of the
and east into .
Kibbie Ridge South
Kibbie Ridge forms the divide between and Lake Eleanor and
runs northeast for 10mi into Northern Yosemite. Kibbie Ridge South lies directly
between the two lakes and sits just outside the park boundary. FR01N40Y runs
within a short distance of the summit on . A five minute
cross-country hike through mostly open forest gets one easily to the summit,
marked by . Many trees here survived the Rim Fire,
leaving only from the summit.
This summit lies about 3mi south of Kibbie Ridge South. FR01N97 circumnavigates
the summit, coming closest on . Quite a bit of brush
has grown up on the slopes since the fire, but there are enough
that no real bushwhacking is needed. There are partial
views into Yosemite from .
This summit lies to the east above the Lake Eleanor dam, both within the park.
It is necessary to park at about half a mile from the dam. This
is an alternate way to visit Northern Yosemite, starting about 1,000ft higher
than the more popular TH at nearby Hetch Hetchy. I found this the most
interesting summit of the day, probably because it was the only one that
presented much of a challenge. I walked down to the lake
and to the in 15min. The cabin
was shut tight, a backpacker found examining the trail map at
. I started on the trail heading
east around the lake, leaving it a minutes later to start
up to Peak 5,380ft. The challenge was two-fold, a combination of cliffy slopes
on the northwest side and that required some careful
route choices. The peak had partially burned in the Rim Fire, leaving lots of
downfall and lots of green stuff, too. I picked up a few as well,
just to keep things sporting. It took about 30min for
, landing me on the broad,
. This was the only summit I left on
during the two days. I noticed a solar-powered instrument to the west a short
distance and went over to investigate. I guessed it was
for the ranger station. Having already started over that way, I decided to
descend the west side for the added adventure. This route, following the edge
of the NW cliffs, was than the ascent route but thankfully
downhill to make things easier. Overall, I think the ascent route was the better
choice. My descent route landed me back at directly,
and from there it was a short walk back along the road .
I drove back to Cherry Lake and then west on paved Cottonwood Rd towards
Tuolumne for 10-12mi. I turned onto FR02N13, intending to drive a series of
forest roads to Thompson Peak and some others before calling it a day. The
road had some snow on the shadier aspects near Cottonwood Creek, but the 4WD
and high-clearance got me through that stretch without difficulty - it
helped that I wasn't the first to drive through the old snow. I didn't get
further past that however, not even reaching the first junction before running
into some heavy downfall that I had no chance of clearing with a handsaw. It
seems this part of the forest has not yet been cleared for recreational use.
This put the kibosh on my plans for a third day in the area north of Cottonwood
Rd. Instead, I drove back out to Cottonwood Rd, then south on FR02N11. I was
heading up towards Duckwall Mtn, a summit I had climbed back in 2013, just
after the Rim Fire. At the saddle on Duckwall Ridge, I turned east instead of
west towards Duckwall Mtn. A lesser-used road goes up to another summit with
500ft+ of prominence called Duckwall Ridge. On my earlier visit I was focused on
P1Ks and gave it no thought. This was a chance to pick up a missed opportunity.
A partially blocked the road and I got out to spend
10-15min with my handsaw so that I could drive past. There
was further on, but I had managed to get within a quarter
mile of the summit - good enough. A 10min hike saw me to
where I found left by Powen Ru in 2019. There are some views
looking and through the surviving trees and
standing snags. I to the Jeep by
2:45p and decided to pack up and head home. I would wait for another month or
so before venturing back to explore the roads I found closed earlier...