BULLRUN PEAK (9,495'), HENRY PEAK (9,334'), PEEPSIGHT PEAK (9,716'), AND LOOKOUT PEAK (9,584') August 30, 2003
Not wishing to waste this fine holiday weather, I induced myself to partake of an ambitious goal. Looking at the maps, I saw where I could increase my peak count with a relatively easier effort. I also needed to get in condition for an upcoming SPS Northern Sierra peaks climb. So it was set.
I woke up at about 4 a.m., this fine Saturday, and promptly motored off, by 4:50 a.m., to CA Highway 4. Arriving at the Pacific Valley Trailhead, I made my hiking start at 8 a.m. Walking up the signed, "rough" 4WD road, I came to the signs directing me toward Spicer Meadow. The trail climbs nicely to a saddle, and I then headed cross-country, for Bullrun Peak, southwest along through boulders and forests. Looking for a good use trail, I strode through tall grasses on a sloping hillside. I came to the scree couloir, and found the use trail there. I was reminded why some people think, "This really sucks!"
Summiting at about 10 a.m., I began my routine of recording the views, and looking for a register. It was hazy this day, and too many of my photos would be less valuable. I am still testing my memory card, so this exercise is useful for that.
All the summits today had registers, although I had to place one new book. I carried three sets of nesting cans, but mostly glass jars, already, provided the protection for these books or scraps. All were generally in fine shape. I had placed registers over a decade ago, but only one remained.
I saw some fine examples of geology, and composed a few shots with my film camera. I wanted to finish a roll left over from months ago. And, figuring this would be an easier day, with no big pressure to rush, I saddled myself with the extra 3-4 pounds. Somehow I feel more secure with back-up, too.
I found another, easier, way down. From the trail saddle, I started my climb to Henry Peak. I swept back and forth for any use trails, but found little trace. I summited here at 11:16 a.m., and enjoyed my good times. I was glad I had waken up early today.
I hiked several hundred yards to the south, along the cliff face, for an easier descent down to the Hiram Meadow Trail. A short, easy gully with a large, single tree at its top provided me with an easy way down through the cliffs. I was able to traverse, using animal trails, back to the north. The eastern facing cliffs of Henry Peak, above me, made a good photo. I spotted the large arch, across the valley, that comprises the "Peepsight." It is just to the right of the summit.
I intersected the trail, and gave myself a good rest. It was becoming warmer, so I took off my jeans to use my hiking shorts underneath. Hiking up the trail, back north, it was a short distance to the signed trail fork. I took the upper Milk Ranch Trail, which contours and climbs up the southern side of Peepsight Peak. I was uncertain where exactly to leave the trail and start heading up Peepsight Peak. So many crags looked as if they could be the summit. I had to consult my map. I guessed well enough, and took a steep rocky slope, which put me next to the top.
Gaining sights of crags and pinnacles, I was happy to get these photo ops. This wilderness has its hidden secrets! I knew I had lots of time. I only had to trudge up some 700 feet of this hard pan and rubble, and I well knew the other side was easy.
On top of Peepsight by 1:49 p.m., I gladly rested. I was getting low on water, having brought only three liters, and a cold can of soda. I meant to drink the insulated soda on this peak. But I needed the liquid earlier, so drank it, back on the trail. I did my summit photos, but with the haze, I declined to try very hard for a summit view panorama.
It required only some 600' gain to top out on my next and last peak, so I tried to enjoy and relax. I was getting good data on routes. I will add Peepsight Peak to my peaks guide, and hope that someone else will be inspired by my multiple climb today.
A long, wide, gentle, mostly grassy, and partly forested plateau forms the route over to Lookout Peak. I hiked along happily with the worst parts behind me.
I look for use trails to report on, and love to get new photos and a new route. I recall a local chapter trip, where the group was led to the wrong peak. On the old 15' maps, there are two near adjacent points designated as "Lookout Peak." The 1950 era map maker must have had a bit of a drink or something when they named the peaks! The higher one is now renamed "Peepsight Peak."
I hiked up slowly. Summiting, then, my last peak, the time was 3:27 p.m. I had figured my hike would have gone faster, but I was definitely tired. Low on water as well. It was a relief to have the climbing behind me, but I wouldn't feel safe till I hit the trail.
I sought to get a good sand run, so followed the white granite slopes down. My exuberance was tempered by the earliness of the day. I like a good sunset, and saw I would be driving home in daylight. I would have been tempted to go to Reno, but for the holiday. The rates go up when the weekenders come to spend.
Back down to the Milk Ranch Trail, I sauntered along at a good clip. I had done it! I ran into other hikers, and even a horsewoman. Back to the start of this big loop by 5:00 p.m., I was determined to enjoy this last, home stretch of dirt road. I was admiring a meadow when I strode over to snap a photo. Blam! I tripped over some barbed wire. Blood! Luckily my cameras weren't damaged, but now I will have to get a tetanus shot. I cleaned up the wound with some of my left-over water, and came back to my car at 5:35 p.m. What a disappointingly easy four peak!
When planning this, I figured on leaving for the trip later in the morning. I totally assumed I might be coming back in the dark. I had my two headlamps, so I'd be O.K. Now I would be getting home when it was still warm.
I recorded some mileages as I motored back west on Highway 4. The road is narrow and curving, so it takes some time to drive. About Bear Valley, it again becomes a full fledged highway, and I thought to come back this way to do some more hiking and climbing.
Because of the election interest, I stopped in Arnold, CA, to snap a few photos. Nothing here to see about the "Terminator."
Returning to Angels Camp, CA, I stopped for more pictures, and to stroll the historic part of town. Nothing much for "magic hour" photography, except maybe the "Angels" theater neon. The remainder of the drive home was pleasant enough.
I hiked maybe some 12 miles with 4,200' gain. I shot 326 digital photos, and some 7 frames of Kodachrome. I spent only $3, and used a half tank of gas.
I saw no mosquitoes, or many bugs. I was fine with three light layers in the cool morning, then stripped down to one layer as the clock turned to Noon. I used a red polo shirt, fearful of any hunters (bow season). The air was pretty still on the last summit. Not much of a cool breeze today!
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