I gave myself a couple of warmup days before the 2019 Sierra Challenge, the
first of which was about half a day since I had to drive up from San Jose. I
went over Sonora Pass and down the east side in order to tackle a handful of
summits with more than 700ft of prominence. It was rather warm and I skipped
the last two in order to keep from over-exerting myself. I finished up by 5p,
giving me almost 6hrs of hiking with some driving in-between.
Seems the USGS misnamed this one which overlooks Pickel Meadows and the USMC
Mountain Warfare Training Center. There is a road going to a pass on the south
side of the mountain that might make for a shorter route, but it is private
property and gated at SR108. The all-USFS route goes up from the north, starting
near the Sonora Bridge CG. I pulled off the access road to the CG and simply
found a place to park off the road before reaching the CG. From there,
one climbs 1,200ft in a little over a mile up somewhat steep,
forested slopes with modest amounts of brush. There is
a benchmark at the summit, along with a MacLeod/Lilley register
from 2001 (which also mispelled the peak as "Picket").
The seven pages of entries are mostly a collection of peakbaggers and military
personnel from the nearby training center. It took a bit over an hour
and a half for the roundtrip effort.
This freebie is located across the highway from Pickle BM to
the northeast, a short 30min RT hike. With a suitable vehicle, one can drive
higher onto the peak's SE side, but it's hardly worth it since the hike is so
short anyway. I found part of a coyote jaw enroute, but not
much else. Views are decent but a bit weak
due to the low elevation, surrounded by higher peaks on all sides. Terry Flood
left a register in 2015 with a handful of recognizable names.
I hadn't planned on this one, but it popped up on the peakbagger app and seemed
a shame to pass up.
This is one of three P700s+ south of US395 and east of Sonora Junction that I
had hoped to do in a large loop. Peak 9,002ft is the highest of the three and
closest to the highway and the only one that I managed. The lands right along
the highway appear to be private, but I didn't have to cross any gates or
fences at my starting point where the Forest lands come closest to the
road. I climbed almost 1,600ft in two miles to reach the summit in an hour and
three quarters, hardly a blazing pace. The route was moderately brushy and
required some weaving to find ways through it, passing by a high meadow
and then some interesting rocky features (one with a hole near the top)
and pinnacles. I bypassed these by going around the west and south
sides of the ridge, eventually finding the summit rocks with a short
class 3 finish. To the north rises the smoothly-featured
Sweetwater Range while to the south can be seen the jagged ridgeline
of the Sawtooth Ridge on the northern boundary of Yosemite. Rather than return
the tedious way I'd come up, I descended to the southwest into Little
Long Valley which lies between the three peaks. From there I picked up an
old 4WD road that descends Sawmill Creek to the northwest, eventually
going through an open gate and past an occupied homestead.
There were no No Trespassing signs encountered past the home, but I'm not
sure of the
legality of it all. I know there is a gate at the highway that accesses this
homestead which I believe is signed and locked. It certainly makes for the
easiest way to access the three summits from Little Long Valley. I followed the
road north out of the hills, turning northeast at an abandoned road that headed
towards my starting point. This took me past some old ranch buildings
that look abandoned, but had a newish-looking trailer parked nearby, then
out to the highway for a short walk back to the jeep. In all I spent
almost 3.5hrs on this one summit, a lot of work for a minor peak.
I drove off to find a place to shower, then to Bridgeport for dinner. Afterwards
I drove up into the Bodie Hills to find a quiet place to camp near where I
planned to hike the next day...