Wed, Jun 23, 2021
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I was camped high on Indian Creek Rd in the Eldorado National Forest east of the Sierra Crest, sandwiched between Pleasant Valley to the north and SR4 to the south. There is a group of five summits in this area that I was interested in. Others had reported climbing them from SR4 via IXL Canyon, but described brushy conditions. Chris Kerth had suggested using Indian Canyon Rd as an easier alternative, and it was this road I'd driven in on the evening prior to check out. I was surprised to find a private gate across the road about 1/3mi from the saddle between Peak 8,448ft and Peak 8,420ft. I checked the peakbagger app and found that there is indeed a private inholding on the ridge here. Luckily, the home is found on the south side of the ridge, and not in the path of my intended route. I camped at a site just off the road about 1/4mi back from the gate and started from there in the morning around 6:40a.
I turned west and followed the ridge back over the false summit and down to the saddle through the private property, no signs or fences encountered. There is a neat little log bench next to the road where it goes over the saddle here. On the west side, I picked up a use trail and followed it briefly before it veered off down the south side of the ridge. I then made my way directly up the ridge to Peak 8,420ft, reaching it about 40min after leaving the first summit. The forest boundary is found just below the summit rocks, so it appears all four peaks are on NF lands. The views of Silver and Raymond improve as one moves west, to no great surprise. There is a good view looking north as well, with Round Top, Hawkins, and Freel prominently displayed in the distance.
My next stop was Peak 8,410ft, another mile to the WNW. After descending the upper part of Peak 8,420ft, I picked up an animal trail that traversed nicely along my route, eventually leaving it as it veered southwest near the saddle with Peak 8,410ft. I continued northwest through mild brush up to the summit of Peak 8,410ft, reaching it by 8:30a, only 45min from Peak 8,420ft. The highpoint was topped by some scraggily trees, but I found some nearby rocks to the south that would make for a good place to leave a register and take in the views. It would take another 50min to traverse to the last summit, IXL BM, perhaps the most interesting stretch. I picked up the animal trail again, finding it appeared to be more used by bears than deer, judging by the large depressions in the forest duff. It conveniently bypassed some minor points along the way, an efficient route between Peak 8,420ft and IXL BM. The trail does not reach to the top, but the last bit of cross-country is quite easy. It was not yet 9:30a when I reached the last summit, probably some sort of record for me reaching four summits. There were some wooden planks formed into a triangle, a wooden survey tower collapsed and off to one side. There was no obvious benchmark to be found, and later I noted that someone had checked the USGS datasheet to find that it was buried several inches under the surface (why?). IXL BM has the best views of Silver Peak and Raymond Peak, the latter less than 2.5mi to the west - a very nice view perch.
My return would go fairly quickly, thanks to the bear trail that I followed for most of the way, taking just over an hour. Back at the saddle east of Peak 8,420ft, I hiked the road back out to the private gate and then to the Jeep, finishing up just after 10:30a. I decided to try another route to the last summit, Peak 7,730ft, and drove back down the road to investigate it. In hindsight, it would probably be easier/quicker to traverse from Peak 8,448ft along the connecting ridgeline which looked to have very little brush when I viewed it from Peak 7,730ft. I will leave that exercise to a fellow peakbagger to explore.
The creek was dry this time of year and brushy along the banks, so I continued upstream a short distance until I found a clear place to cross. From there, the route immediately becomes steep, sometimes loose footing, sometimes brushy. The trick seems to be to avoid the heaviest brush as well as small cliff sections. My descent route was all class 2, roughly down the center of the main gully on the north side. Brush on descent is easier to get through and thus not as necessary to avoid. On the way up I was looking for more solid footing and wound up on mild class 3 terrain - ymmv. The gradient relents just before the summit, the final stretch having more brush that can be minimized by weaving through it. It was not a quick way to get from A to B, taking me most of two hours to reach the summit. The summit provides a nice overlook of the Carson River drainage southwest towards Ebbetts Pass, southeast into the Wolf Creek area, and northeast towards Monitor Pass. I rested up here longer than I had on the other summits - it was getting warm and the effort to reach the summit was far more significant. I actually enjoyed exploring this route a good deal as if felt very remote and Wilderness-y, at least until one reaches the summit and can view SR4 below. I did a slightly better job on the return, pretty much the same route back to the swampy lake, then trying to follow the road back up. It's quite faint in places, but still useable, my mistake being to leave it too early when I thought it was going too far north into the adjacent drainage. I ended up back in the brush I had encountered earlier and had to sidehill my way back to the old road once again. It was after 2:30p by the time I got to the Jeep and ready to call it a day.
I had planned to stay another night in the area, but the early finish had me wondering how to avoid the heat of the afternoon until evening time. I checked the weather reports for the next day and found there was a 50% chance of thunderstorms. I'd brought no raingear, so this seemed sufficient to push me to deciding to head home a day early. The peaks weren't going anywhere. I showered before driving back out to SR88, then home to San Jose before sunset. Good fun...
This page last updated: Mon Jun 28 18:34:28 2021
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