Tue, May 23, 2017
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Juniper BM previously climbed Sun, Jun 14, 2015|
Unfortunately, the old Walt Wheelock register from 1959 was no longer at Juniper BM's summit, a new one taking its place in 2016, courtesy of Richard Carey. Surprisingly, Doug Mantle had visited back in March - it is exceedingly rare to find his name on a summit that is not on one of the Sierra Club's lists. At nearly 9,000ft, the summit affords a fine view of the snowy Sierra in the background to the west, Split Mtn prominently displayed in the center of the panorama. Reversing course, I wandered back down the east side, this time looking more carefully and eventually finding a small cairn (which I made larger) about 70ft from the LoJ point. Richard Carey had left this register as well on that same day in May of 2016. Taking a short break here, I started poking around on my GPSr and found a bonus Peak 8,820ft a little over a mile to the northeast. I was close, it seemed, so off I went. I dropped down to a small valley with a 4WD road passing through it (the same one we had parked the Jeep on during that first visit to Juniper BM) before climbing onto the easy SW ridge of Peak 8,820ft. Finding no register there, I left one of my own before starting back down.
Two other bonus peaks popped up on the GPSr over on the south side of Little Cowhorn Valley, just south of the pavement, so again I extended the outing to tackle these, realizing at this point that I would have to conserve my Gatorade which was now half gone. I dropped 1,800ft over the course of a couple miles, crossing the pavement before starting up the south side. Neither peak is particularly hard, close as they are to the road. Interestingly, they both have the same height and prominence though separated by a mile with a 500-foot+ gap between them. Neither held a register though both were climbed by Bob Sumner back in 2006 (Sue & Vic show a PB entry on one of them in 2016). They both have nice views looking south across Cowhorn Valley to Peak 8,060ft and north across Little Cowhorn Valley to Juniper BM. Around 12:15p I finally made my way back to the van after some six hours. I didn't see a single vehicle ply the road in that time.
After more than 4,000ft of gain, I was pretty tired but I figured lunch would give me the extra energy I would need to tackle Peak 8,060ft in the afternoon. Canned chicken breast on Ritz crackers, a fruit cup and 16oz of soda were just the ticket. The rest and the food did wonders and I was starting the second hike only half an hour later.
I reversed course and headed east, following the ridge along a number of bumps to find my way to the P1K after a little more than an hour. Or at least what I thought was the highpoint. It was the point identified on LoJ, but looking north, another point a quarter mile in that direction that I had conveniently bypassed on my way, looked higher. I pulled out my hand level and took a peek, sure enough it was 15-20ft higher. Rats. Back I went. I found a large cairn there, a generic benchmark, another Barbara/Gordon register and a zillion ladybugs flitting about the summit. I sat down below the highpoint to avoid them and photograph the register contents, but no sooner had I started than the ladybugs began to swarm me enmasse. I had to hurriedly finish my task before brushing hundreds of them off me and my clothes. I could not guarantee that some were not injured or killed in the process. Leaving the summit to the ladybugs, I descended a more direct route back to Cowhorn Valley and the bike. Another 15min of riding had me back to the van by 4:30p. By now it had warmed to nearly 85F at 7,000ft, quite warm for hiking. I cranked the AC and drove back down towards Big Pine before stopping to take a shower just outside town. I then drove to Bishop to while away the rest of the afternoon in the air-conditioned Starbucks before grabbing dinner and heading back up to the mountains. More fun on tap tomorrow...
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