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.
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.
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...