Maggie Mountain P300 ex-SPS / ESS
Peak 8,774ft P500
Peak 9,900ft P300
Peak 8,093ft P300

Thu, Oct 18, 2018
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPXs: 1 2 Profiles: 1 2

This weekend's highlight was to be an SPS memorial hike to (unofficially) name a peak for Andy Smatko, scheduled for Saturday. I headed to the Southern Sierra a few days early as per usual, to get some extraneous peakbagging in on Thru/Fri. Today's outing was a hike along the Summit Trail on the western boundary of the Golden Trout Wilderness for a climb of Maggie Mtn and a couple of unnamed minor summits. The 10,000-foot Maggie Mt used to be on the SPS list, but it was swapped out decades ago for the slightly higher North Maggie Mtn. There were two closely-spaced fires burning on the west side of the range, not far from the Summit Trail. Consequently, the Alder and Mountaineer Fires would make for unhealthful air quality, heavy haze and almost no views. Though somewhat long, the outing posed few challenges and was on the easy side. Done early, I had time for another unnamed bonus peak before driving back down to the pavement at the main highway.

Starting off around 8:15a, the only other vehicles in the parking lot were towing horse trailers - equestrians out for a camping holiday. I saw lots of their hoof prints and poop, but no sign of the horses or the folks riding them. Oddly, I found a fully-loaded backpack sitting on a log aside the trail after half an hour. I saw no sign of the owner but it was gone upon my return. Just after passing the pack, I headed cross-country up the south side of Peak 8,774ft, my first stop. It took another half hour to make my way to the summit, rocky and normally open to views, but mostly smoke and haze today. As I started off the north side I was surprised to see that the trail traverses just below the summit - seems I could have stayed on the trail and more easily reached it from the north side. I continued north on the trail for another hour, passing by Jacobsen, Mowrey and Alpine Meadows in turn before reaching a poorly marked trail junction. Though the trail was in decent shape, the various posts and signs marking the junctions leave much to be desired, decades old and in need of some TLC. I turned left at this junction, following the trail that goes over the south shoulder of Maggie Mtn before dropping down into Mountain Home State Forest (another route one can use to access Maggie Mtn). Where the trail tops out I turned right to follow the SE Ridge to the summit. Large boulders, some brush and class 3 scrambling added some challenge to the effort.

I was three hours into the hike when I reached Maggie's summit. There is a benchmark, the remains of an old survey tower and a pair of registers in a plastic box dating back to 1992. It appears to be a fairly popular summit with many, many entries. North Maggie could barely be seen through the smoke a mile and a half to the northwest, with Maggie Lakes down below. Only half a mile to the north rises the bonus Peak 9,900ft which I headed to next. The north side of Maggie Mtn was an easier scramble than the south side, but there was lingering snow from the weak storm two weeks earlier to keep it from being too easy. Peak 9,900ft proved a good scramble, class 3 along the south ridge, dodging to the west side where necessary to avoid some rather large blocks of granite in the way. Andy Smatko had climbed this peak in 1958, but I found no sign of a register - perhaps this was well before he got in the habit of leaving them. Like Maggie Mtn, the north side of Peak 9,900ft proved easier. Once down off the peak, I wandered through forest for another mile or so before finding my way back to \ the Summit Trail. From there, it was an easy hike back to the TH in a few hours' time. When I got back, I found several large Springfield Hot Shots trucks, and a ranger who'd just driven up in his USFS truck. Seems the Hot Shot folks were out scouting the Mountaineers Fire and they were getting a closure notice ready to shut down the Summit Trail while the fires continue to burn. Had a I been a day later, I'd have been denied access.

After driving back down 3-4 miles to a major road junction, I turned left on the other fork to drive a few more miles to the Wilderness boundary about 3/4mi from Peak 8,093ft, what I figured should be an easy bonus while I was in the area. The cross-country route proved easy enough with some brush to contend with, the most exciting part was the class 4 summit block that I had to circumnavigate a few times before selecting the easier way up on the north side. My gloves in the photo mark where the two handholds were that I used to haul myself up. The rock didn't appear to be very solid, but the two holds held well enough. Descending, I chose to jump down rather than try to reverse the awkward moves. It was 5p by the time I finished up. I was happy to find my shower would be warm this evening, despite the haze. I still had lots more driving to get myself over towards Sherman Pass where I planned to hike the next day.


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