Peak 6,850ft P500
Peak 3,385ft P300

Thu, Apr 22, 2021
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPX Profile


On the last of three days around Lake Isabella, I was back in the Piute Mtns for a couple of peaks south of the lake. I probably should have done these in the reverse order because Peak 3,385ft lies on private property in Bodfish and is open to view from many vantage points. It would have been better to do it in the early morning hours when the town was much quieter. I finished up the two peaks before noon, giving me plenty of time to get home before sunset.

Peak 6,850ft

This summit is located about a mile and half WSW of the HPS Heald Peak. It wasn't until I was driving in to the trailhead the previous evening that I realized my route to the peak was much the same as the HPS Route 1 for Heald that I had used 17yrs earlier. A motorcycle trail runs up the north ridge of Peak 6,850ft, making the first three miles a piece of cake. On that previous trip, our party struggled on the traverse across the north side of Peak 6,850ft, finding horrendous brush and no clipped trail. It seems Route 1 is rarely used and Route 2 (in conjuntion with Nicolls) is the usual route. It would have been similarly horrendous getting to Peak 6,850ft's summit from the trail if it had not been for the 2016 Erskine Fire that burned over the west and south sides of the peak.

I started the hike shortly before 6:30a, taking an hour and three quarters to cover the three miles on trail at a fairly relaxed pace. I enjoyed the cool temps in the early hours of what would become a warm day, and fine views that can be had from the trail. Though there were a few brushy sections along the trail, most of it was clear and open. Where the brush had been burnt off nearer the summit, a large amount of poodle dog bush has taken over, and it has become sizeable after five years. I have yet to get a rash from this bush, but if it's anything like poison oak, it simply takes repeated exposures for the body to become more and more sensitive to it. I did my best to avoid the stuff as I did the cross-country portion of the climb on the west side of the summit. At the top I found some large granite blocks, two of which were vying for highpoint. I climbed the northern block first, a narrow, class 4-ish thing that I mantled from its north side. I believe the southern block is higher, however, and a little easier, too, at class 3. By comparison, it was quite roomy and could hold a small party. The views overlooking the northern half of the Piute Mtns are quite good, though a bit washed out with today's haze. I was out of summit registers, so I wouldn't be able to leave one at this deserving summit.

Peak 3,385ft

After returning to the Jeep, I drove back to Lake Isabella and then through Bodfish to find my way to the starting point for Peak 3,385ft. I had first tried to climb this summit on a previous trip via an easier route from the east, at the end of Laura Dr. There was a locked gate with No Trespassing signs, and neighbor homes around it. Much of this mountain is surrounded by homes at the base, making it difficult to find a place to start. The west side of the peak along Bodfish Canyon Rd near its junction with Lake Isabella Blvd has a dilapidated fence with several openings, no homes at the base. There are homes on the SW side of Bodfish Canyon Rd, and as luck would have it, the owner of one was sitting in a chair outside his garage right where I had planned to start. I ended up parking a few houses down the road from him and started up from another break in the fence that would have me out of his view until I had gained the ridge above. I could do little about the cars passing by on the road, and it seemed unusually busy. I half-expected to get called out almost before I had started, but thankfully no one shouted up at me, no cars stopped, no dogs barked. I climbed the steep, grassy slopes to the ridge and then followed that to the summit in about half an hour. There are some nice-looking oaks along the ridge, but mostly grass with very little brush. There were several fences encountered along the way, but these had numerous breaks as well, and it seems possible that no one is grazing cattle here anymore. In looking at the fire history, the summit burned in 2002, 2007 and 2017 - seems a regular occurrence around here. There are a few rocks serving as the highpoint and I took a few minutes to rest and take in the views. It was getting warm and probably a good thing I wasn't planning to hike more at these lower elevations the rest of the day. I returned along the same route I'd used for the ascent, all done just after 11:30a. Happy not to find an unfriendly note on the windshield, I wasted no time in leaving town...

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