I had hoped to make another trip to Northern California but a weak storm system
up that way dissuaded me and I headed to the Southern Sierra instead. This
proved a fine choice, despite it being hunting season. I spent the first day in
the Greenhorn Mtns on the western side of the range. I started off with Pine
Mountain as planned, but then completely diverged from my itinerary. I ended
the day's hiking at Greenhorn Summit around sunset, then driving down to
Kernville where I topped up on gas and had dinner at the Kern River Brewery,
one of Tom's favorite stops. I sent him a picture from inside the brewery to
which he simply responded, "Bastard".
With just over 750ft of prominence, this had been the day's primary objective.
It's found just south of California Hot Springs on the western edge of Sequoia
National Forest. I drove up M56 through CA Hot Springs, then south through Pine
Flat before leaving the pavement for a good forest road to Capinero Saddle,
about two miles east of Pine Mtn. I had hoped to use other roads shown on the
topo map to drive much closer, but these are all now permanently closed. I
on the old spur road from Capinero Saddle, quickly finding it
choked with , making for slow progress. Heavy brush is
found on most of the slopes, leaving me little choice but to use the old
roadway. After pushing through this a bit, I discovered a decent use trail after
about a quarter mile. This is part of a network of such trails that hunters use,
mostly following the old roads. After crossing , I found
in better shape and my hopes improved that I could find my
to the summit, . About halfway to Pine Mtn, I came across
3 hunters in camo fatigues with orange hats, rifles in hand, slowly making their
way up the trail . The last in line spotted me as I
slowly kept behind them at a distance so as not to disturb whatever animal
(deer, most likely) they were stalking. After about 20min of this, they paused
at a junction and waved me to come join them. Speaking in hushed whispers
(which I found rather comical), they were quite friendly and didn't seem to
mind my intrusion. "Hey, it's all our public lands," one commented. They wanted
to know if I knew where one of the trail forks went to. I didn't. Seems we
were all here in this area for the first time. I eventually went right while
they went off to explore the left fork. The continued up to
the east side of the peak where the topo shows a fork going directly up to the
summit. I found no sign of an old road and no reasonable way to go up
cross-country. There was either heavy brush on the non-forested sections or
poison oak underfoot in the forested parts. I continued on the trail as it goes
around the east side of the summit to a saddle on the north side. Here I found
under forest cover that continued nearly to the top.
the top proved little hindrance and I was able to make my way to the low summit
rocks about an hour and a quarter after starting out. There was
that once held a register, now rusted through and the contents unrecognizeable.
No real views from the summit due to haze in the Central Valley, though there
of the higher Greenhorn ridges on the way back. Without the
hunters to slow me down, it took only 50min to make my way back.
It was after returning to
that my itinerary diverged. I noticed
that I was only a few miles from Sugarloaf Peak, a summit I had forgotten about
on the ESS List
I've been slowly working on over
the years. So rather than return to M56 and the other peaks along it as I had
planned, I worked out a route to get me close to Sugarloaf. More
took me through the White River Summer Home Tract, then further up to paved M9
another large collection of summer homes on the north side of Sugarloaf Peak. I
should have continued up to Sugarloaf Saddle on the east side of the peak and
hiked from there, but not knowing this, I drove through the summer home tract
to follow an old road on the north side. This road is signed for No Trespassing
but appears to be collectively owned by the homeowners. In any event, I found
it before it ends at a saddle northwest of the
summit, so simply and went up on foot.
worked decently enough, taking less than 15min to reach the top. The summit is
buried in forest without
views, though I found myself now in clouds that would hang over the tops of
the mountains for the rest of the day, an odd local weather event brought about
by strong winds blowing over the crest. The most notable thing about the modest
was that they were infested with poison oak. At over 6,200ft of
elevation, it was some 700ft higher than I've ever seen the stuff grow before.
The rocks had somehow protected it from the 2016 Cedar Fire that swept over
the summit and a huge swath of forest lands. Fire fighters did an extraordinary
job of saving the summer home tracts, none of which had any reasonable cleared
zones around the properties.
After returning to the jeep, I continued on M9 up to on
the crest of the range. This minor summit lies about half a mile northeast of
the pass where . I used that runs
above the roadway on the south side of the peak to get closer before going up
cross-country for the last bit. I found an easy
with frostly, blowing winds that drove me off the summit rather quickly.
After returning to Portuguese Pass, I drove north on the main road along the
crest of the range. Normally there would be good views across the Kern River
Valley to the Kern Plateau, but these were all blocked by the heavy cloud cover.
I passed signed as a Warming Shelter, used in the wintertime for
snowmobilers. There were grazing in one of the meadows I passed
by, common throughout the Southern Sierra. Peak 6,902ft is another minor summit
lying in the Bull Run Creek drainage east of Baker Ridge. A victim of the same
2016 fire, moderately heavy brush now dominates . A forest
road that nearly reaches the summit on the west side is now closed and
unuseable, but a lower road near Tyler Meadow is in good condition and gets
within half a mile. I fought through the brush and wind to reach
in about 15min and then quickly beat a retreat.
This was another short hike but had the most interesting summit of the bunch,
a more challenging class 3 block to get one atop , though
no views due to forest cover.
This summit is found sandwiched between Greenhorn Saddle and Black Mtn Saddle.
The latter is reached from paved Greenhorn Saddle via a good dirt road, used
to access the HPS summits of Black Mtn and Split Mtn. A rougher dirt road can
be used to get within a few hundred yards of the summit on the southwest side.
I parked here and walked to in a few minutes' time.
Lots of downfall about the summit and no obvious highpoint, rather
This last summit is also on the ESS List, found just southwest of Greenhorn
Summit. There is a well-maintained trail starting from near the saddle that
goes to the summit in 2mi, via a loop. It was getting late when I
the trail but I only went a short distance before studying the map a little
closer. I discovered I could use the paved Rancheria Rd heading south from
Greenhorn Saddle (goes to the ski area) to get within a quarter mile on the
southeast side. Of course there's no trail and is very steep,
but it worked nicely with minimal brush to get me to the top in less than 15min.
There are several at the summit, at least three
register boxes, and a pair of (though no views today). I
was back to the jeep a little
after 6p. I found a place down by Lake Isabella to take a shower (it was 60F
down there compared to 42F at Greenhorn Summit) before heading to Kernville for
gas and dinner. After dinner I drove north from Kernville to the junction with
Sherman Pass Rd where I found a quiet place to spend the night away from the