Table Rock
Cheese Camp Ridge
Four Cornered Peak
Slick Rock
Big Hill Ridge P300

Thu, Jun 18, 2020
Etymology
Table Rock
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPX

Continued...

The second of two days in the El Dorado National Forest was a half day effort tagging a handful of easy summits. I probably spent as much time driving around in the jeep on forest roads as I did hiking, still a fun time.

Table Rock

I'd spent the night camped along Jones Fork Silver Creek, about 3/4mi west of Table Rock. I was up early, starting the cross-country hike to Table Rock by 5:40a. The route gains elevation slowly at first, through forest with easy travel. At the base of Table Rock, evidence of the 2017 Table Fire becomes clear, brush having grown up annoyingly in the past three years. The fire was fairly small, covering the entirety of Table Rock and little else. The brush was only moderately difficult, but I imagine it will be another story in another five years or so. It took 35min to make my way to the open summit where a modest boulder serves as the summit block. Four Cornered Peak rises higher to the north. Union Valley Reservoir can just be seen to the northwest.

Cheese Camp Ridge

Half an hour of driving got me from my campsite to the start for Cheese Camp Ridge. Partially paved Pickett Pen Rd forks east off the well-paved Ice House Road near Union Valley Reservoir. A rougher road forks off Pickett Pen about a mile from Ice House Rd, leading in another mile to an old quarry on the southwest side of Cheese Camp Ridge. A quarter mile hike on an old road, closed to vehicles, then leads easily to the summit. The most interesting view is looking down at the quarry site below.

Four Cornered Peak

Back on Pickett Pen Rd, I drove about 2mi further up the road to a spur forking to the right, then another 3mi on the spur road to a road bend on the north side of Four Cornered Peak, about 1/6mi and 300ft below the summit. On the way up I followed through forest understory to the summit area. There, I found both brush and rocky travel. I bounced from rock to rock to avoid most of the brush and get myself to the highest point with decent views overlooking the forest. To the north was the large dome forming Slick Rock, the next summit on my list. Some plastic pieces of a food tub were all that remained of a register or geocache, found on the north side of the summit rocks. I decided to descend the rockier route off the northwest side for the sporty class 3 scramble it provided. It was fun, but not easier than the ascent route through the forest. It was less than 20min for the roundtrip effort. I have no idea where the name "Four Cornered" comes from - there are no corners anywhere on the mountain that I could ascertain.

Slick Rock

This large dome was the most interesting of the day's summits. I drove to the end of the spur road I was parked on, about a mile, just across Big Silver Creek. The summit is a striking dome easily visible from the north, west and south. It connects to higher ground in the Crystal Range at a saddle that gives it little prominence. I was about a mile from the summit when I started out through heavy forest, the ground littered with all sorts of discarded branches. This made the cross-country a little tricky, walking carefully so as not to stab my foot or trip on my face. I headed up the southeast side of Slick Rock, class 2-3 slabs at too low an angle to offer interesting climbing routes. The views from the large summit were the best of the day, open in all directions. There was a large cairn at the higher southwest summit and signs of much foot traffic in the sand that carpeted some areas. I left a register here and went to investigate the northeast summit, finding it 4-5ft lower. On the way down I went east to the saddle and down through the forest, but I think the ascent route up the granite slabs was both easier and more interesting.

Big Hill Ridge

There is a lookout and telecom towers atop Big Hill, found south of Union Valley Reservoir, a peak I had climbed on a previous visit in 2018. To the south of Big Hill stretches Big Hill Ridge, the highpoint of which is found about a mile south of the paved road going to the Big Hill LO. I spent about 40min driving to reach my starting point. There is a logging road shown on the topo map that gets close to the summit on the southwest side, but that road was gated and closed. It seems most of Big Hill Ridge lies on private logging lands, and while foot traffic is not prohibited, vehicles aren't welcome. My route following the logging road on the northwest side of the ridge was a poor choice. It was only after I'd done about a mile and a half of it that I thought to check the satellite view, something I hadn't done in my earlier research (luckily there's a cell tower atop Big Hill that provides good cell coverage around Union Reservoir). I thought there might be a spur road up from the saddle on the SW side, but the satellite views showed only trees and brush. A better approach would have been to follow an old logging road going along the spine of the ridge on the northeast side that shows up nicely in the satellite view. It was too late to try that now, but I would use it for the return. Looking uphill, I could see there was lots of brush on the northwest side, but not of the impenetrable variety, and noting that I was now only 0.35mi from the summit, decided to head directly up rather than follow the road around to the southwest side. I went up the steep slopes, poking around brush and through forest to find the least brushy way I could manage. As I neared the summit, or what was supposed to be the summit, I did not find the last 120ft of elevation depicted on the topo map. There were three contours shown on the map that simply didn't exist - the summit area was much flatter than depicted and the actual highpoint was found to be almost 500ft further north than expected. It was hard to discern any highest point due to the flatness, and the views were completely lacking as it was buried in trees - a very disappointing summit. I was happy to have consulted the satellite view which led me to the old logging road just below on the northeast side. I followed this for less than half a mile to the northeast before choosing a shortcut of sorts back to the jeep. I could have stayed on the road and another spur that would lead back to paved Big Hill Rd, but a quarter mile of cross-country to the north would get me down to another old spur road, at the start of which I was parked. It was a brushy cross-country ramble, but at least it was downhill making the brush less formidable. I found the spur road exactly where shown on my GPSr and hiked this overgrown road back to the jeep. It took about an hour and twenty minutes for the roundtrip effort, the least enjoyable outing of the day. Pro tip: use the roads on the northeast and north sides of the summit instead. I finished up by 11:30a and decided to call it a day and drive home. I would come back to the area next week for more fun...

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