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After the previous day's long outing to the Silver Divide, I had half a day left before having to head home. I picked a few easy P1Ks that were not far off SR168 on my way home. One of three in the state, the Mt. Tom I had in mind here was the second highest in the state, not the higher and far more familiar massive that is so prominent from Bishop and US395. I had first noted this summit a few years ago when Matthew and I had climbed Balloon Dome and seen this largely forested summit dominating the view to the south where I had expected to see Kaiser Ridge. Mt. Tom lies in the middle of a large section of Sierra National Forest that I hadn't been to, so it seemed a good time to pay it a visit. It sports one of the still-manned Forest Service lookouts, though I didn't know it had a resident spotter until I went up there.
I started early, well before 6a in order to get to the summit before sunrise. I had spent the night on the northeast side of the mountain, less than a mile from the summit, as the crow flies. I was a little too quick in getting to the top, arriving around 6:30a, somet 20 minutes before sunrise. A light was on in the lookout cabin, a beat up pick-up truck parked at the base. It looked more like it belonged to a vagabond than a government employee. These folks are probably not overpaid. I didn't disturb the resident but wandered over to the west side of the summit where the highpoint and benchmark could be found amongst some summit rocks. Ritter & Banner were the two most prominent summits visible far to the north. The eastern sky was lighting up with the approaching sunrise while the view west showed the sun's shadow line slowly descending towards the horizon. It was a little too cold to stay up there until sunrise, so after ten minutes I headed back down. For a change of pace, I avoided the road I had mostly used on the ascent, dropping down the east side 1,000ft in less than a mile (more brush here than I expected or cared for - not a good route), returning to the van in about 30 minutes.
I drove back out to Kaiser Pass where I parked for the most interesting peak of the morning, the unnamed Peak 9,691ft. It's the second highest summit in the Kaiser Wilderness with at least 500ft of prominence, found about two miles west from Kaiser Pass. An old road, now within the Kaiser Wilderness and closed to vehicles, runs part way up the ridgeline from the pass for about half a mile to a lower summit. Cow poop can be found in the area, though no cattle were found during my visit, probably due to the lateness of the season. A ridiculous number of ducks were constructed along the path of the road, most of which I knocked down on my way back. From the lower summit one can see Huntington Lake to the southwest, Mt. Tom to the north and the higher Pt. 9,522ft to the west. The ducked use trail ended (or maybe I just lost it) somewhere near the marshy saddle between the two summits. The cross-country was not difficult, though brushy in places, particularly if not careful to pick the easiest route. Upon reaching the top of Pt. 9,522ft (which I thought was the summit of Peak 9,691ft until this time), I found the actual summit still 15 minutes away with another gap to cross. It was after 9a when I finally got to the highpoint. There was no duck or register to be found and I would have been surprised to find either. There wasn't a whole lot to recommend it for views or a summit, but it had made for a nice hike. I took a zoom picture of the China Peak ski area to the south before returning.
I drove down to Shaver Lake, turning north on paved Big Creek Rd when I reached a junction at the north end of the lake. This road leads through a saddle between Musick Mtn and Ely Mtn as it makes its way north to the west end of Huntington Lake. A dirt road a few miles from from Shaver Lake can be taken to a saddle east of Musick Mtn. A fork leads to the top, but it was gated closed. Parking here, I followed the road for about two miles to the summit. It was warm and the flies were being a nuisance, forcing me to take measures to keep them off my face - a fern frond that I had plucked from the side of the road to use as a fan. I found another lookout at the summit, though this one is no longer manned or maintained. The steel tower holding the lookout cabin has been commandeered by the telecom companies to hold a series of microwave relay antennae. Its probably this facility that allows the community of Shaver Lake to get cell phone service. I climbed the stairs to the cabin but found the hatch locked. I didn't bother trying to circumvent it. The views were washed out by the Central Valley haze that had easily penetrated this far into the west side of the Sierra. I did find a 1950 benchmark under the tower, but no register. With a short bit of cross-country and some jogging I made it back to the car in twenty minutes. I took a quick rinse in the open air before changing into a fresh set of clothes and starting the drive home, the finish to a short day and a half in the Sierra...
This page last updated: Wed Jan 16 09:15:24 2013
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