Peak 8,445ft P300
Peak 9,033ft P300
Peak 8,980ft P300
Peak 9,361ft P500

Sat, Sep 25, 2021
Etymology
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Continued...

I'd spent the night camped at Rodriquez Flat, on the east side of the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness, above the town of Walker. Winds had started sometime in the night, bringing warmer temps and smoke from the Caldor Fire still burning south of Lake Tahoe. I got a text at 5:15a from Kristine, "not making it maybe tomorrow", which I took to mean "today" without the maybe. I went back to sleep until 6a, then got up, did the usual morning routine, and waited to see if she might show up at 7a. She didn't, leaving me on my own. I was interested in a pair of low peaks along the Silver King River, the sort of summits that would only appeal to someone trying to climb all the summits in Alpine County or the Wilderness area. There were two other peaks south of Rodriguez Flat on, or near the Alpine/Mono Co boundary, that I added to make a large 14mi loop with more than 5,000ft of gain - a fairly big outing that would keep me busy most of the day.

I parked at the Corral Valley TH and started from there, right at 7a. The trail starts climbing steadily as it passes through a badly burned section of forest from the 2020 Slink Fire. The trail climbs more than 500ft over the first mile as it crests over the shoulder of Peak 9,361ft's NW Ridge. The forest gives way to low, open brush with vistas west towards Silver King Creek and south to Corral Meadow, numerous peaks just visible through heavy smoke today. A junction is found at the highpoint of the trail here. I turned right to follow the gently descending trail southwest and west down to Silver King Creek. I could see my first summit, Peak 8,445ft to the southwest, forested and not looking all that impressive. I reached the creek at 8:15a, immediately needing to cross over to the other side. Though water levels were fairly low, I could see no way to get across on rocks or logs in the vicinity, so off came the boots and socks. There is another trail junction soon after starting again on the other side. I took the left fork following the creek south. The trail goes only a quarter mile or so before crossing back to the east side, again the boots and socks came off - seems they might have kept the trail on the east side to save some trouble. In another 1/3mi further, I reached the confluence of Silver King and Tamarack Creeks, the two nearly making an island of Peak 8,445ft. I left the trail to cross Silver King Creek for a third time, this time across a broken log spanning the watercourse. Once on the other side, it was a steady climb of 600ft over half a mile to reach the summit by 9:10a.

There are two point vying for highpoint, but I found the southern one to be about 3ft higher than the northern one. Views are limited by the surrounding forest, though there is a partial view looking west to Pt. 9,403ft. After leaving a register, I descended south to the base of the peak at the south end of Long Valley, then back across Silver King Creek (easy to find stones to walk across now) to regain the trail. I continued on the trail up through Lower Fish Valley for about a mile before heading cross-country to the east up towards the second summit, Peak 9,033ft. This climb was more involved with more than 1,000ft of gain, but the terrain is quite pleasant. I had intended to aim for the saddle between the peak and Pt. 8,841ft to the northwest, but my aim was off due to inattention, and I ended up on the south side of Pt. 8,841ft, about 100ft higher than I needed to be. I dropped to the saddle and then climbed up Peak 9,033ft from the west. The summit is comprised of class 3 granite blocks, again with two summits. Of course I climbed the lower south block first, before making my way about 150ft to the higher north block. This was the most interesting summit of the day, the only one with class 3 scrambling. Now 10:45a, I left a second register here before continuing on my way.

More class 3 scrambling got me off the north side of the summit blocks, then steeply down forested slopes to the northeast. After dropping 800ft, I reached picturesque Coyote Valley, my return trail located on the far side. In spring or normal summers this might be a quagmire to cross, but it was trivial today. The ground is soft and damp in many places, but no water save for a trickle running down the middle, easily stepped across. There are various wooden posts and portions of old fencing to the left of where I crossed, but none of it is maintained any longer. I did not find the trail where depicted on the map, but further upslope past where the forest begins. I followed the trail up for more than 600ft as it goes over a gap in the long NW Ridge of Antelope Peak. It then drops down 500ft through more burned forest to the expansive Corral Valley.

At this point, I was 2.5mi of trail to get me back to my starting point, but because it was still early and I was feeling stronger, I decided to add the other two summits. Peak 8,980ft is located in Mono County about 2.3mi to the east. I left the trail at Corral Meadow and followed the gentle slope ENE up to the county line. The route went mostly through low brush, not particularly difficult (lots of high stepping), but also a short section of annoying aspen forest and much easier pine forests that were torched in the Slink Fire. Even before reaching the county line, one can see Peak 8,980ft to east, rising up behind a gap that drops about 300ft. The slopes down to the gap aren't hard, they've been torched too, but one needs to watch for low, burned snags that can easily trip one up. The remaining wood sticking out of the ground is quite hard and unforgiving if it catches a foot. I crossed the meadow at the bottom of the gap and now getting tired, slowly climbed the 400ft+ to the summit. This summit also had two points vying for highpoint honors, separated by about 300ft. I visited both, but found the northern one to be a few feet higher. I was out of registers, so this one got no love from me. If it weren't for the smoke, this summit would have really nice views overlooking Little Antelope Valley to the northeast and the West Walker River drainage.

Now 1:20p, I had about three miles remaining along with the highest summit of the day, Peak 9,361ft. I dropped back down to the meadow to the west, then began the slow climb along the crest towards Peak 9,361ft. Most of this part had been burned, leaving a variety of challenges, including a maze of burned mountain mahogany - not the best thing to weave through with a white shirt. The last 100ft of the summit is a pile of rubble, not terribly loose, at least, but steep. An ammo box held a geocache of mostly junk, along with a busy register dating back less than a decade. Interestingly, the last entry was only two days earlier by Michael Graupe. Good to see he's still keeping at it.

I could see the pack station and various spur roads around Rodriguez Flat to the north. I had about a mile to go back to the TH, all downhill now. I finished up the cross-country back through the badly burned forest I'd started off on, finding the trail only about 200ft from the TH. I finished up shortly after 3p, having spent just over 8hrs on the venture - a very fun day.

The TH was busy with hunters (seems deer season had just opened this weekend), so I drove back down from Rodrguez Flat to find a quiet place for a shower, then down to US395. I would end up driving over Sonora Pass and down to the Clark Fork where I planned to hike the next day. The Arnot Creek TH had a few vehicles when I arrived around sunset, but all was quiet and I spent a peaceful night there...

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