Peak 8,420ft P300
Sherman Peak 2x P750 ex-SPS / ESS
Peak 9,611ft P500
Peak 8,886ft P300

Fri, May 22, 2020

With: Karl Fieberling

Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 GPX Profiles: 1 2
Sherman Peak previously climbed Wed, Jan 22, 2014


Day 3 of a Southern Sierra roadtrip saw Karl and I doing some peaks around the Sherman Pass area. It was a marked change from the previous day where we were 3,000ft lower, contending with warm temps, poison oak, ticks and other unpleasantness. By contrast, today's summits involved hikes through open forest understory, easy cross-country travel and delightful high country views, all with more pleasant temperatures.

Peak 8,420ft

This summit is located about 2mi ESE of Sherman Pass, dividing the Trout and Machine Creek drainages. Forest roads from the northwest might be able to get a high-clearance vehicle within half a mile of the summit, but these were currently closed. Instead, we started from the pavement at the Trout Creek TH, about 3.5mi each way. It is a delightful trail, easy to follow with a babbling brook on the righthand side, descending about 600ft over the course of three miles. About halfway along, a trail junction is reached, beyond which motorcycles are not allowed. Logs have been placed over the trail to discourage them, but it seems some have taken it more as a challenge. Where the creek makes a sharp turn to the left to go around the north and east sides of Peak 8,420ft, we left the trail to climb forested slopes on the northwest side. There are a number of rock outcrops vying for the highpoint and the topo map shows three equal-height closed-contours. We bypassed the two northern ones, heading to the southern one that LoJ had identified as the summit. That point was forested with poor view, but it was immediately clear that the highpoint was to the north. So we backtracked and climbed that rock outcrop which had better views anyway (LoJ has since moved the highpoint to the correct location). The views sweep out over a forested landscape with only a partial view of the granite domes and features within the Domeland Wilderness to the south (the summit lies on the northern boundary of the Wilderness). We left a register before heading back down, using much the same route. We were back by 10a, the outing taking us three and a quarter hours.

Sherman Peak - Peak 9,611ft

These two summits rise above Sherman Pass on the north side, the highest summits on that side of the pass for many miles. They lie outside Wilderness areas and can be visited by 4x4 vehicles in the summer months. The COVID-19 pandemic has left most of these roads still closed, or at least not cleared of winter downfall. We attempted to find a driveable route from the east, but were stopped by downed trees on one of the spur roads we attempted. Since we were within about a mile and a half of Sherman Peak, we decided to just start from the blockage rather than spend more time looking for a better road. It took us a little under an hour to make our way west upslope, using a combination of old roads and cross-country, eventually meeting up with the Sherman Peak Trail a few hundred feet below the summit in the east side. The summit has some solar arrays and small telecom installations, the highpoint found in a small jumble of rock just behind them. The best views are to the north and east with a sweeping panorama of the Sierra Crest from Owens Peak to the southeast, all the way to Kings-Kern Divide in the northeast. The snow-capped Kaweahs can be clearly seen as well as the higher summits around Mineral King across the Golden Trout Wilderness to the north. Despite its popularity, or perhaps because of it, we found no register in the rocks, and didn't leave one of our own.

After yesterday's long outing, Karl decided to take it easier today and skip the remaining agenda. I suggested he could take the Sherman Peak Trail back to Sherman Pass and wait for me there, and I gave him an overly optimistic estimate of how long it would take me to get back. Peak 9,611ft lies almost two miles to the northwest, so I would end up hussling more than I might otherwise so as not to keep Karl waiting longer than necessary. I went off down the northwest side of Sherman Peak at a slow jog, happy to find the cross-country travel as easy I might have hoped. The saddle between the two peaks is found about 2/3 of the way to the second summit, the saddle crossed by a 4WD road that hadn't seen any traffic yet this year. This is followed by a 300-foot cross-country climb, a traverse around the east side of a lower summit, then a final 200-foot climb to the highpoint, found in a rock outcrop buried in trees, much as expected. I checked a few other points to be sure, finding them all lower before returning to the original point where I left a register and immediately started back down. At the saddle for a second time, I found that I could bypass Sherman Peak altogether on the return by utilizing Forest Road 33E48 that traverses low on the north side, eventually reconnecting with one of the older roads that Karl and I had utilized earlier. The net result was that I got back to the jeep by 1p, ahead of plan, less than 3hrs for the six mile outing. I drove back out to the pavement and picked up Karl at the Sherman Pass overlook where he was nearly successful in taking a nap - pesky vehicles kept driving in, and finding Karl lying prone in the dirt, they'd invariably check to see if he was Ok.

Peak 8,886ft

We drove back down to the start of the Cherry Hill Rd on the west side of the pass where we'd left Karl's Element earlier in the morning. I had one more peak in mind before calling it a day, so we made plans to meet up again in Big Meadow where Tom and his crew would be staying for the weekend. Peak 8,886ft lies a few miles west of Big Meadow, a subsidiary summit on the long NW Ridge of Cannell Peak. The topo map shows a spur road (23S13) nearly going over the summit, but the road has had some realignment and no longer goes this high. Instead, the road ends at a small turnaround 600ft below the summit on the NE side. Though it is somewhat overgrown, I ignored the pinstriping and drove to the end of the road and went up cross-country on foot from there. It was less than half a mile to the top and took just over 20min. The summit rocks were partially open to views, though they were growing hazy as the afternoon wore on. I left a last register here before beating a retreat back to the jeep, finishing up at 3:30p. There was still more than four hours of daylight, but I wanted to rest up for some harder stuff planned over the next couple days...


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This page last updated: Thu May 28 14:52:49 2020
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