Peak 7,225ft P300
Peak 7,842ft P300

Thu, Aug 4, 2022
Etymology
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The 2022 Sierra Challenge was going to be starting with monsoonal weather. I had already delayed by one day because of expected heavy rains, but could delay no longer. I would end up with an abbreviated version of what I had planned for a warm-up due to threatening thunderstorms in the afternoon. I would get two unnamed summits over the course of about 9mi and 2,500ft of gain in two outings. I had gotten up at 3:30a so that I could be assured of getting at least one hike in. Lots of highway work held up traffic and I didn't get started until 8a. Still, that would be enough to do the first hike under mostly blue skies.

Peak 7,225ft

This summit is located in the northeast corner of Tuolumne County, in the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness. I used the Wheats Meadow TH off Forest Route 6N06. I had used this TH for Whittakers Dardanelles back in 2013, but most of the route would be on new trail or cross-country. Others have reached this peak more easily from Spicer Meadow Reservoir to the west, but that is terribly inconvenient when one is planning to drive over Sonora Pass. The outing is about 6.5mi roundtrip, taking me a little over 3hrs. The first mile and a third is on the maintained Wheats Meadow Trail heading northwest. At a trail junction, I turned north onto the Sword Lake Trail, but this is only lightly used and sometimes hard to follow. There are some ducks and some flagging in places, but mostly it follows up Darndanelles Creek. After another mile, the weak trail turns northeast and it was here I left to continued cross-country more directly to Peak 7,225ft, another mile to the NNW. There are some swampy areas to avoid, but mostly the cross-country is fairly tame, the last climb up more open slabs with modest brush and few trees.

The summit offers views overlooking Spicer Meadow Reservoir to the west and northwest. The Dardanelles rise to the east. A Levi Cover left a register less than two weeks earlier, so it was no surprise that mine was only the second entry. I returned via much the same route, though with variations where I found different trail threads or wandered off on more cross-country. The weather had held out nicely all morning. Only a few harmless clouds until about 10:30a when the expected thunderstorms began to develop. Finishing back at the Jeep after 11a, it would be noon before the clouds looked threatening. I had hoped to do an 11,000-foot peak near Leavitt Peak, but decided that was too exposed and would not be wise.

Peak 7,842ft

Instead, I did an easier, lower summit east of US395 only a few miles from Bridgeport. A little-used Forest Rd spur off US395 gets one across Swauger Creek on a narrow bridge. I parked just on the other side where the road disappears. From there, it is about a mile and 1,000ft NE to the summit of Peak 7,842ft. Sandwiched between the higher Sierra Nevada and Sweetwater Ranges, the peak is mostly covered in pinyon and junipers and appears to offer decent protection from lightning compared to the higher summits on either side. The brush is moderate, but it appears cows have made paths through much of it, obviating the need for any real bushwhacking. Some of the slopes are steep, but the footing was decent. I spent about 45min on the ascent where I was treated to ominous clouds to the south and west. Mt. Jackson can be seen to good effect to the northeast, the higher peaks of the Sweetwaters further north. By the time I had gotten back down, only a few scattered drops had fallen, and the single peal of thunder to be heard was far to the west over the Sierra. Seemed like a good time to call it a day and head to Bridgeport...

Continued...


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