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Day 8 of the 2022 Sierra Challenge was an easy one, sandwiched between the two hardest days. Table Mtn is the high plateau separating Lake Sabrina from South Lake. A trail goes over the mountain from both sides. We would take the shorter route from the east, using the Tyee Lakes TH. We had more than 20 folks at the 6a start, and at least 4 others starting anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours later. Easy days draw big crowds.
We spent an hour and a half plying the trail, climbing 2,400ft over 3.5mi in the process. It was the first time the Challenge had used this trailhead and everyone thought it a good one. There are seven lakes in the Tyee collection, located in a high cirque between Table Mtn and Peak 11,938ft. At the 11,000-foot level, the trail turns north to climb to the plateau. Mature forest gives way to the dwarf variety found at the highest elevations where they are often battered by high winds and buried in deep snow. It was a lovely green today, and several large rabbits were seen grazing where we started the cross-country portion heading northeast to the highpoint. I had expected the highpoint to be a flat bump on the plateau, but it was a spicy class 3 collection of summit blocks, the highest of which holds only a few folks. The two fastest participants had already left, but we managed a group of seven while I was there. A small notepad in a tin box served as the register, only a few years old but already damp and getting abused by the weather.
Mason told us there was a 1981 Smatko register on an outcrop 2/3mi to the west, so most of us headed off in that direction. We met up with a second group on their way to the Table Mtn highpoint, so we paused for another photo of the larger group. The search for the Smatko register on Pt. 11,684ft was a bust. Mason couldn't remember where it was located, only that it was some distance below the highest rocks. While most of our group stopped for lunch and an extended break, I decided to head off, interested in visiting Peak 11,938ft on the south side of Tyee Lakes. SeanR headed off shortly afterwards, and once caught up, the two of us continued the rest of the way. It was easy going for most of it, the greatest difficulty was weaving through the scrub pines while minimizing the thrashing. Much sand for most of the way, some boulders as we climbed up from the saddle on the west end of Tyee Lakes.
Simon was already at the summit when we arrived shortly after 9a. Seven of us would collect over the next 20min or so. This summit had three registers, the oldest dating to 1969 that had a 1973 entry from a party including both Smatko and Lilley. Lilley was back with MacLeod in 1980 to leave a second register. A third one was left in 2017 by Tom Witte. He came back a second time only eight days ago and left a "Hi Bob Burd!" note with it. Chris and I had talked of keeping the day going by heading to the Thompson Ridge for a few summits there, but I was no longer feeling up to it. Chris, in a close race for the King of the Mountain jersey with Tom Grundy, felt he couldn't let this chance slip, so went off that way by himself. While most of the others headed back to Tyee Lakes, I wanted to explore the ridgeline heading northeast from Peak 11,938ft. It was an enjoyable ramble on my own, easy at first, then a steep drop of about 200ft, then a traverse across a narrower ridgeline with much granite boulders. I might have considered this tedious, but I came across two cool-looking pinnacles along the way. The western of the two was like a minature version of the Milkbottle on Starlight Peak, and goes at class 3. The eastern one was a much tougher effort, and highly enjoyable once I figured out how to get atop it. It was class 4 with wild, wild exposure off the southeast side looking down on South Lake some 1,800ft below. After carefully retreating off the block, I left a register on the north side and later would add it to the PB database as SLO Pinnacle.
Having had enough excitement for the day, I headed off the northwest side of the ridge down a sand and rock gully almost directly below SLO Pinnacle. Once in the basin below, I worked my way across it to reach the trail near the outlet of the largest of the lakes. Back on the trail, it would take a little more than an hour to work my way down to the trailhead. The trail was busy with fisherfolks, day hikers and a few backpackers. I was surprised to run into a few participants getting a very late start. It didn't really make much difference - the weather was very nice today with hardly a cloud, and the day easy enough that they'd be back sometime in the afternoon anyway...
This page last updated: Wed Sep 7 13:34:19 2022
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