Peak 7,117ft
Peak 8,580ft P300
Peak 6,751ft P300
Peak 7,359ft P300
Peak 7,540ft P500
Centennial Bluff P300

Wed, Sep 15, 2021

With: Kristine Swigart

Etymology
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 GPX Profile

With most of the national forests still closed throughout the state, I headed to the Humboldt-Toiyabe NF in northern Mono County, the only one open in the state (it has different management than the other NFs in the state). Kristine lives about an hour away and she was happy to come down and join me each morning for a couple of days. Today was a collection of different hikes, peaks found not far from US395 near the junction with SR108. Kristine had met me at 7a along SR108 at the 4WD route to Leavitt Lake, but we quickly found the road gated and locked. Not wanting to do the 3mi+ hike along a route we can drive at other times, we decided to skip the first outing and head to the others. We left Kristine's Suburu at the junction of US395 and SR108 for the first two summits, driving together in the Jeep.

Peak 7,117ft

This modest peak is found a mile and a third north of the US395/SR108 junction on the west side of US395. I wasn't sure if this was public or private lands, so we thought it best to do first before the highway gets busy. We parked east of the summit where the highway crosses to the west side of the Little Walker River. There is a small turnout just past the bridge where we parked. Signage on the fenceline here is a fishing notice to use barbless hooks and other restrictions. No evidence of No Trespassing signs, so we followed a fishermen's trail for a short distance along the riverbank, then headed west up to the summit, less than half a mile away. Modest brush required us to weave through the stuff, but nothing serious. The summit overlooks the West Walker River to the west and north, little more than a creek at this time of year, calm and inviting. Returning the same way, we spent 35min on the roundtrip effort.

Peak 8,580ft

This was the highest summit of the day, located in the Sweetwater Range, above and north of Burcham Flat. We drove Burcham Flat Rd 4.5mi to a saddle southeast of the peak. From there, it's about 2/3mi to the summit. Having read a few reports of heavy brush along the ridge south of the summit, I had us avoid that by sidehilling across the east slopes before working our way up to the summit. This had little brush, but the slope was steep, loose, and tedious. Some whacking at the forested top was required to find our way to the highpoint. The summit is a small rocky perch surrounded by flammable trees - we decided leaving a register here would be a fruitless exercise given the high burn potential. For the return, Kristine decided to try her luck south along the ridge, rather than repeat the sidehilling effort which bothered her fused ankle considerably. She plunged into the thicket of mountain mahogany, disappearing from view for 3-4 minutes before reappearing beyond it. That was all the bushwhacking that would be required. I had even less, using Marcus Sierra's suggestion to stay on the east side of the ridge (I was very close to the ridge itself, just below). When we got back down, I readily admitted the descent was better than the ascent. Kristine just smiled. A little less than an hour for the roundtrip. We went back to the highway junction to pick up Kristine's car, then drove north 14mi to the town of Walker.

Peak 6,751ft - Peak 7,359ft - Peak 7,540ft

These three are found close together in Taylor Canyon, just south of Walker. We stopped at the general store there so I could buy a pair of gloves that I had inconveniently forgotten to bring on this trip. My fingers were already bleeding from the thorny brush. We got a couple of sodas, too, parked Kristine's car out of the way, then headed up the Forest Service road into Taylor Canyon. The road appears to mostly be used by a few motorcycles - it was rather brushy for the Jeep driving up. We stopped at the 3/4mi mark where the route splits. This would be our starting point for a loop to the three summits. The lowest, Peak 6,751ft, was 800ft above us to the northeast, only 1/3mi away. We followed the OHV track for a short distance before leaving it to climb the steep slope on the southwest side. It took about 25mi to reach the top. Like all the summits we visited today, moderate smoke obscured what would otherwise be unrestricted views. We could see the town of Walker not two miles away to the north, and maybe five miles of the Antelope Valley in which it lies. After a short break and leaving a register, we descended east and southeast off the summit, aiming for the saddle with Peak 7,359ft, our next stop. This was a long, but not unpleasant climb from the saddle, over intermediary Pt. 7,216ft and then to Peak 7,359ft, about a mile south of the first summit. We left another register here before continuing south on the ridgeline. We got easily down to the saddle with Peak 7,540ft, but the climb up to the last summit was the toughest of the day. Steep, loose, talus-y and partially forested, I did not find it very pleasant. It didn't help that there was little breeze and the temperature was 80F. We summited, took a break and left another register, then descended steeply back down to Taylor Canyon via an alternate route. This was not as bad as I had expected (given the ascent), the descent helped by generous sections of sand that made it go quickly. Once in the canyon, we picked up a trail where the topo map shows the OHV route. Boulders rolling down onto the road have closed it to even motorcycles - we would not have been able to drive up much past where we had parked. We walked the remaining mile back down the road, spending 3hr20min on the four mile loop.

Centennial Bluff

This last summit is located northwest of Walker and just north of Little Antelope Valley. From US395, we drove about a mile west on Golden Gate Rd until we were about a mile due south of the summit. There is parking on the north side of the dirt road where an old road goes down and across a gully. No longer driveable, it's part of the state wildlife area that occupies most of Little Antelope Valley. We followed a good trail for a short distance, leaving it when it curved east, away from our direction heading north. Kristine led us through moderate brush, finding game trails to keep us from any real bushwhacking, covering about half the distance until we reached the base of the peak. The slopes have less vegetation than the valley, making that easier, but it was now 87F out and we had to admit we were getting tired. We spent 40min on the ascent, finding the smoke thicker now in the afternoon. We stayed only long enough to leave a last register before heading back down the same way, finishing up by 3:30p.

We dined at Walker Burger (reminds me of the Jolly Cone in Bridgeport) before parting ways for the evening. Tomorrow was going to be a tougher outing, so I was looking forward to as much sleep as I could manage. I rinsed off in the West Walker River and hung out for a couple of hours, waiting for the sun to go down. It was quite pleasant in the shade with a breeze blowing through the river valley. I would end up spending the night at a large turnout off SR108, across from the USMC Mountain Warfare Training Center. Hopefully, no nighttime exercises this evening...

Continued...


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