ROCKHOUSE PEAK (8,383'), TAYLOR DOME (8,774'), OLANCHA PEAK (12,123') June 14-18, 1985

Signing up for this peak climb in the Southern Sierra with the Sierra Peaks Section, I motored south Friday in 100+ degree highs, on Interstate 5, then east on CA 178 to Lake Isabella. I found the roads to the campground where we were to meet, and people began driving in during the night.

Waking up to a nice morning, we car-caravanned to the trailhead for Rockhouse Peak. This was a longer hike, and we passed through many meadows and forests. Catching sight of the peak, we used a class 3 route along the dome shaped summit, and I topped out to snap many photos of the views. The others came up, too, and we had lunch on the top.

Climbing back down, we took the same way back, and came back to the cars at a good hour, I was wanting to dine at a nice restaurant back along the Kern River Highway, so I took another fellow interested in doing that, too. He became car sick, and couldn't hold anything down, and skipped the fine meal. It had been about 25 miles each way, of winding mountain road, and my car wasn't the best ride.

Everyone was asleep when we got back, but I managed to wake up in time for the second peak, Taylor Dome. This was a shorter hike, with some class 3 on the summit block area. The view was alright, and we quickly ambled down to head back for the trail.

Trip finished, I left the group and motored back down along the Kern River Highway, and then over to CA 178 crossing Walker Pass. I toured Ridgecrest, CA, and visited the museum. I headed north to lodge in Cartago, CA. It was too warm to camp out at this lower elevation.

Getting a cafe breakfast at a very early hour, I rushed out for the short drive to Sage Flat Trailhead (elevation 5,300'), as I thought that I heard there was to be a cattle drive in a few hours. I had about five quarts of water plus soda, and upon reaching Olancha Pass, stashed some of my canteens.

The hike along the Pacific Crest Trail was nice, with some signs to mark the way. I then came to a view of Olancha Peak, and hiked up the class 2 slopes as I determined where the top was.

An eagle flew close by, eyeing me apparently as it soared about. I snapped many photos of the view, and enjoyed this one day climb's success. I was careful to hike back down, and never saw anybody, this day, on the trails or peak. I began running out of water, but one lone snow patch provided some slush for my canteens. I got back to my water cache, then took the hiker trail down from Olancha Pass. Having some nice sights as I sauntered down, I was back to the car before sundown.

Motoring north on U.S. 395, I took photos of the sunset. It had been a nice mellow time to bag an Emblem peak, and now a successful drive home. I camped somewhere, and saw the morning light from the Mono Lake vista point, then a view of the Sawtooth Ridge.

This had been a circle of sorts of the Sierra Nevada, with 3 more SPS peaks to climb. I was working on my Senior Emblem, and this helped toward that, greatly. About the first time I had stayed at a motel along the Eastern Sierra, it had been pretty rundown, but that was all I could afford.

I surmise there are two sets of people on SPS trips. Beginners do the peaks closer to Los Angeles, while the hard core climbers do the difficult, further peaks. Many of this latter group become list finishers, and the novices drop out fast. I am somewhere in the high middle, being that I strive still for an advanced Emblem, but as it is, I had to halt with few or no climbers to join me.