04 June 2016

Black Mountain and Split Mountain

Sequoia National Forest

I signed up for another Hundred Peaks Section outing, this time bringing along another geocacher who is not at all worried that there are no geocaches to get along the way. The planned early morning start got earlier when the weather for the weekend became known. The high for Kernville, somewhere down the hill a bit, is expected to be 104°F. Up here, 3000+ feet higher, that translates into something that is on the correct side of body temperature but still very hot. Twenty minutes after sun up, it is not yet hot, but it is certainly not cool either. I have dropped in three bags of water at 2.5 liters each to try to make it through the 12 mile or so day without drying out. I find a half liter a mile is a minimum on days that hit 90°F when on trail and these will be off trail miles. The water is heavy, but the pack is riding better than usual with the extra weight as we start up a thin track in the grass, climbing steeply up the hill.

right up the mountain side
Without a trail, it is easy to fall into the most direct way to climb the mountain in front of us.

little flowers
Blankets of purple show to be a carpet of low growing flowers when up close.

The track splits as we go, but we pick our way ever upward. Directly upward. A steep and unrelenting climb upward. Winding through the trees and curving our large rock outcrops, upward. Then, suddenly, there is a summit block. It is after a lot more effort than the distance traveled would seem to indicate.

next peak
Already looking to the next peak through a view obscured by trees.

summit block
The summit block of Black Mountain. This is the taller of the peaks today, but the view has some obstructions.

After a little time at the top, we head down again. Down is steep too. Actually, down might be steeper. We veer north to catch a ridge that will take us to Split Mountain. There are tracks here, but they are not left by previous peak baggers. The tracks keep turning away from where we want to go, and then we drop steeply again. One short and particularly steep climb gets us onto the ridge top.

mountains covered over in green trees
Other tree covered mountains in the distance.

off the peak again
What goes up must come down.

Up on the ridge, there is a track to follow again. This is a good thing, because we are winding and pushing through brush. It is hard enough to find a route with a track. The minor peaks along the ridge are easy climbs and there is more travel, if a little circuitous, than climbing along it.

Split Mountain
Split Mountain up ahead.

purple Mariposa lily
Mariposa lilies dot the small grassy spots. Plenty of clay, too, but these stood out as less familiar coloration.

track through purple carpet
Finding our way past purple carpets and through brush.

The view opens up as we head slightly downward along the ridge. Usually, that would mean more vegetation, but here things are getting rockier.

Lake Isabella
Lake Isabella is filling up.

Bushes full of yellow flowers like these full of lady bugs are found along the way.

peaks to the north
A northwesterly view with Sunday Peak.

Black Mountain
Looking back to Black Mountain. It is getting to be a longer way up.

We stop short of the last drop before the climb to the top of Split Mountain for some nibbles and to stash extra water for the trip back. The last drop is quite steep as is the last climb. It will be nice not to have that weight. I have just swapped to my second bag of water, so it seems to make sense to drop the third one here. Prepared, we head out for the climb and it has gotten quite hot.

natural planters full of flowers
Coming up to the summit block, it is as if it has a decorative front yard.

summit block
Part of the summit block, which has a little bit of a secondary split on this taller part of the split of Split Mountain.

We take a bit more time at Split Mountain. There is just a lot more to see from it even though it is quite a bit lower.

Kern River
The Kern River flowing out of the distant snowy Sierra Nevada peaks.

tops of Split Mountain
Looking across from one peak of Split Mountain to the other.

Sunday Peak
Bohna and Sunday Peaks across the way. Something for tomorrow.

Eventually, we do head back down. It is even hotter as it gets to probably the hottest part of the day. Down is slow and careful even with the heat. Especially with the heat. I am starting to really feel the heat and I am not the only one. At the bottom, with probably 300 feet of steep climbing to the water stash, my second bag is dry. Fortunately, a fourth bag supplementing my fellow geocacher's supply was not stashed and he is quite happy to let that weight go.

flowering yucca
Climbing up in the heat past flowering yucca plants.

We gather up our stashed water and head back up along the ridge. It is nice to be back to the gentle ups and downs and getting into areas with more shadow. It is nicer as the shadows get longer. It seems longer to get to where Black Mountain breaks off the ridge and then continue along the ridge and along an old road. Eventually, it is even noticeable that we are traveling along an old road. For this area, it is likely to be some old mining concern that built it.

flat space on a slope
A long flat spot along a slope is likely to be an old road. Now it is well populated by brush and some trees with a few decades on them.

The road junctions with one that will take us to waiting cars. One way seems to be wrapping around the mountain the way we want to go and one seems to be heading down the ridge where we do not want to go. We take the wrapping one. Unfortunately, this is wrong. When the motorcycle tracks from someone pushing through the brush turn around, it is concerning. We press on, but then turn to follow a ridge down to find the other bit of road. Travel along it is much easier, especially as we pass a parking area and it becomes a drivable thing.

iris with ants
One of a few irises seen throughout the day, often with ants or a little past their prime.

We would have been shuttling from the parking except the road is blocked by a boulder. We get there soon enough. I have a half liter left of that third bag of water, so I suppose it was a good amount, but stashing it was not such a good idea. That is two more peaks in the bag. Oh, wait, I was trying not to start working toward a list finish.

©2016 Valerie Norton
Posted 9 June 2016

1 comment:

RalphOnEarth said...

Yep, it happened just like that. Thanks for the writ up Valerie, and thanks for not including the fact that I couldn't keep up and never topped Split Mountain, ...oops..! A mighty crew is right- 12 hours on the mountain without a trail or shade when I needed them most. Bill is an awesome host and guide. Glad I was able to join you all. RalphOnEarth