While the rest of the family was in the LA area, I headed to Tahoe
for three days of gratuitous peakbagging. Today I was hiking out
of Barker Pass on the west side of the lake, reached by a paved
road ascending the Blackwood Creek drainage near Homewood. I had
tried to do this earlier in the season but found the road gated at
SR89. It had opened on Jun 15, so now seemed a good time for a
return visit. It seems to be quite popular - there were dozens of
cars at various trailheads and points along the road. The PCT/TRT
(Tahoe Rim Trail) crosses over Barker Pass, providing easy access
to the trail.
I had spent the night camped at Donner Pass on Interstate 80, up
before 6a for the hour-long drive to Barker Pass. My first effort
was a mile-long hike to Peak 8,514ft on the south side of the
pass. The Ellis Peak Trail provides easy access to the unnamed summit as
it passes within about a quarter mile of the top. I
had visited Ellis Peak on snowshoes in 2009, so I only hiked the
first part of the trail on this effort. As one nears the summit,
the trees thin
out considerably, leaving good views. A good breeze kept most of
the mosquitos at bay, but the more ferocious ones found their mark
despite this - Jun is often a good time to avoid the Sierra in my
book for this very reason, but this year I'm going to stick it
out. There are some snowfields on the shadier sides of the peaks
at this elevation still, but nothing that interferred with the
day's plans. On my way back to the TH, a younger gentleman was
heading up with boots and very short skis strapped to his back.
I'm not sure if he could find much of a run off any part of the
ridgeline, but he seemed like he knew what he was doing.
This summit lies about 2mi west of Barker Pass. The pavement ends
at the pass, but a decent dirt road continues west to the
Powder Horn TH, halfway to the peak. Three other vehicles
were already parked there when I arrived shortly before 8a. The
trail goes a short distance up to a saddle before dropping down
into the Powderhorn Creek drainage. I followed the trail to the
saddle, finding an OHV road coming up from a different point. I
might have been able to drive this had I known about it, but it
ends not far past the saddle. No matter, since the cross-country
to Peak 8,180ft is pretty easy, taking but 30min from the start.
The summit is large and flat, with a slight rise on the east side
forming the highpoint. Trees block views to the west, but there
are good views looking north, east and south.
I returned to the jeep in about the same 30min.
Peak 8,652ft - Twin Peaks - Barker Peak
I had planned to do these summits starting from Barker Pass, but
on the drive back from Peak 8,180ft I found a rough spur road that
I could drive up to about 8,300ft, some 700ft higher than the
pass. Still, it would take me almost 5hrs to complete the loop. It
was a fairly enjoyable outing, following the ridgeline from where
I parked up to Peak 8,652ft, a fairly easy effort with open terrain.
Along the ridge between Peak 8,652ft and Twin Peaks is a section of
difficult rock that I had to get
around, finding it not so bad on the northwest side and soon
getting back on the ridge. I intersected the PCT
where it climbs up to the crest southwest of Twin Peaks, finding a group of
four young folks out on day 4 of a backpack around the entire
TRT - very ambitious!
I had been to the highpoint of Twin Peaks back in 2009 on the same
snowshoe trip, but had neglected to visit the slightly lower west
summit. My return was primarily to tag the west summit, but I also
paid a return visit to the east summit since it was so close.
Both summits are somewhat messy piles of broken rock, as is the
short traverse between the two.
There was a battered benchmark and a very busy register
in a large ammo box on the east summit. I perused it briefly, but put it back
without bothering to sign it - really too messy to be useful.
There are good views of Lake Tahoe in the distance to the east
and of the backside of the Alpine Meadows Ski Area to the north.
After getting off the summit boulder field, I found
a use trail leading down to the PCT, which I then followed
for more than 3.5mi to the south, travelling on the east side of the crest
in and out of several small drainages. I ran across a few more
parties out on a day hike in this
stretch. Barker Peak looks good from Blackwood Canyon, but
has little prominence from the PCT via which I approached it. More
easy cross-country leads to the summit from the PCT in about half
a mile. The peak overlooks Barker Pass which is found about
500ft below to the southeast. I returned to the PCT and then
followed an OHV road for a short distance before heading steeply
uphill for a quarter mile to where I had parked the jeep.
it wasn't yet 2p, I decided to call it a day since the temps were
now in the mid-70s, a bit too warm for my liking. I would spend
the next hour driving back down to Lake Tahoe (where it was 85F),
then up the McKinney Creek drainage on the Rubicon Trail. This
road is pretty rough starting from the staging area at the end
of the pavement, a well-known classic among rock-crawling
afficianatos. I'm not one of them - I really don't like driving
roads that I can hike faster. I only drove the first two miles,
finding a campsite at Miller Lake where I would spent the night.
The mosquitoes were worse than they'd been all day, making it
difficult to take a shower without getting mauled. They drove me
into the jeep where I would have to while away the rest of the
afternoon before it would cool down enough to sleep. Have I
mentioned how much I hate mosquitoes? Argh...