Fri, Sep 24, 2021
Our second day in the Wolf Creek area was far more enjoyable than the first. The terrain was much more conducive to cross-country travel, allowing us to cover more ground in a shorter time, and finding our way to three summits instead of just one. Kristine met me at the High Trail and East Fork Carson River TH where I had camped for the night, and together we started out around 6:45a.
There is one trail leaving from the TH, but it splits into the two main trails after about a quarter mile. We turned right to follow the High Trail for more than two miles, through pleasant country of mixed forest and meadows, the latter quite dry this time of year. We found the trail well-maintained with no downfall. After the first hour, we left the trail where it plateaus and begins traversing to the southeast towards Snowslide Canyon. We continued heading south up forested slopes, aiming for a vague saddle between Peak 9,221ft and Pt. 9,075ft. The route is quite steep from 8,000ft to 8,600ft, then begins to level off. Kristine and I got separated above this point as she seemed to be heading towards Pt. 9,075ft instead of the higher summit to the west. I turned southwest, continuing through forest and avoiding the rocky ridgeline higher up. I emerged from the forest somewhere west of the saddle and gained the open ridgeline, going over a false summit before making my way to the top of Peak 9,221ft just before 9a. Kristine would be another five minutes behind me, lamenting that her bearings were "all fucked up", leaving her unusually confused about her surroundings. There was no smoke to mar views today, and the open summit provided sights in all directions. Most impressive was the view to the west across Wolf Creek and the jumble of cliffs that we had attempted to navigate the previous day. Had we seen this picture beforehand, we would surely have attempted a different route. Looking southwest, we could see our ridgeline continuing to Peak 9,960ft and Peak 9,911ft, more than three miles away. The ridgeline looks to make for an inviting hike over mostly pleasant terrain, a route that Chris Kerth had used in 2019, collecting these and other summits in the same day. Kristine commented on the nice ridgeline several times to which I suggested she could go off that way and return back along the Wolf Creek, but she decided to join me for the other two "crappy peaks" I had in mind. We left a register at the summit before continuing on our way.
We turned eastward, returning back across the false summit and ridgeline to Pt. 9,075ft. We avoided some loose rock and small cliff areas by staying mostly to the north of the ridge, back through the forested section I'd traversed on my own, then up to Pt. 9,075ft in about 35min's time. There was a steel pole left by a survey crew, but nothing else of note. Though views were wide open, we were unable to see the two peaks we were heading for off to the northeast, down in Silver King Valley. Their summits were more than 2,000ft below our current position, trees blocking any clear views we might have in that direction. We then began a long, hour and twenty minute descent, most of it steep, forested terrain with surprisingly good footing. After dropping 2,800ft, we reached the East Carson River with Peak 6,781ft directly across the other side. The Carson River used to run on the northeast side of the two peaks, but later cut this newer channel on the southwest side, leaving the two peaks as small islands in Silver King Valley.
I had thought the river crossing would be trivial at this time of year, but try as we might, we found no way to cross on rocks or logs. Off came our boots and socks, then across the cold, slow-moving river. I had already gotten my boots back on and tied when I suddenly realized I'd left my gloves back on the other side of the river. My frustration was countered by Kristine's unbridled amusement - off came the boots again, back across the river to retrieve the gloves, then a third trip across the river. What a pain. But at least Kristine got some good laughs from it all. She had already started up to the peak less than 1/5mi away as I was putting my boots back on for the second time. I followed her up through a steep gully between volcanic crags, reaching the top just before noon. We left one of Kristine's registers here before heading to our third summit.
Peak 6,760ft is less than a mile away to the northwest, our route taking us roughly along the ridgeline between them, though the saddle was nearly as low as Silver King Valley itself. The route was entirely forested with mostly open understory, much as we'd had most of the day. The top was a bit brushy, but we found the highpoint at the north end of a short ridgeline, under a pine tree. No real views from this summit. We left a register in a small pile of rocks, but suspect it will get torched when the inevitable fire burns over this small peak.
After a short break, we descended off the northwest side of the peak, eventually picking up the East Carson River Trail at the base of the peak. We followed this west through brown meadows back to the river at Grays Crossing. No bridge or other way to facilitate the crossing, so off came the boots and socks again. To yet more amusement, and this time some of my own, I made the same mistake in leaving my gloves on the other side of the river. This would be the first time I had to make six barefoot river crossings in one outing. As I was making my way back across the river to retrieve my gloves, a horseman with two horses and a dog came up to the crossing from the same direction we'd approached it. He had been out for two nights by himself, and from our short conversation, seemed to have enjoyed every minute of it. He was a very pleasant fellow, as was his medium-sized, black and white dog. I was still getting my clothes and boots back on while he crossed the river on his horse and disappeared up the trail. We wouldn't see him again until we were back at the trailhead.
From the river, the trail begins a slow, steady climb of more than 300ft up the southwest side of the river drainage, passing by Wolf Creek Lake (now little more than a pond) and going over a shoulder where a trail junction is found, the same one we had turned off on early in the morning for the High Trail. It was nearly 2p by the time we returned to the trailhead and our vehicles. We'd covered 12mi and more than 4,000ft of gain over seven hours, not a bad day at all. And this one we both enjoyed thoroughly.
After changing into more comfortable clothing, we drove back out to SR4, then over Monitor Pass and down to US395. We had a late lunch/early dinner at the Topaz Lodge, not far from Kristine's place. Afterwards, I drove back south to Walker, then up to Rodriguez Flat to spend the night. Kristine planned to drive out in the morning to meet me there for another outing...
This page last updated: Tue Sep 28 12:14:11 2021
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