Los Padres National Forest
I had a good time stomping around in the early snows last year climbing up some peaks on the Hundred Peaks Section list, so with the coming of the new snows I thought about doing some more in the area. The peak guide for Eagle Rest refers to a final class 3 climb to reach the summit, which sounds like something best avoided in winter, so I let that fancy go again. A couple weeks later, I noticed the Doggetts were actually leading a hike to those peaks. Ignacia has completed the list six times and Peter has managed it thirteen times. If they think it can be done, it probably can. The only person who has done it more is a character called Mars Bonfire. (I am assured this is a real person, really called that, and otherwise famous. He has a Wikipedia page that does not even mention his twenty-five list finishes. He has moved on to other adventures now.) I sent off an email to express interest and found myself signed up. They even scouted it the day before to make sure the gate was open and the road passable. All this leads to a group of six gathering at a snowy trailhead just after 8 AM.
|We start off on snow compacted to a couple inches which largely finishes off as we come upon a couple old prospects.|
The trail we are following initially is an old mining road that is one continuation of the road we drove in on. It is covered in a couple inches of snow that fell over the weekend. We wind our way down it, breaking up the clean snow as we go. It levels off, crossing a wide saddle, and the snow largely vanishes. Beside it in the saddle are two holes surrounded by tailings supporting the notion that this is an old mining road. We drop through one avoiding a fallen tree on the road. Further on, we continue on a gentle downhill around the next peak. It looks like this area gets the afternoon sun and there is very little snow now. The downhill finishes with a few slides and a short, steep section past an old gate. Peter points out that when he was first hiking these peaks, they could drive to here.
|Still deep morning shadows under the pinons on this abandoned road.|
|One last drop past an old gate to a thin saddle below Antimony Peak.|
Antimony Peak sits above a steep rock face over our heads. Our old road continues upward to the other side from the cliff. This was once the kind of road where half of it is traveled backwards. It is steep and unrelenting as it winds upward.
|The start of the steep old mining road climbing the side of Antimony Peak.|
|The dusting of snow on Mount Pinos.|
We suddenly level off on a high saddle. The other side is our first view of Eagle Rest Peak below. The road continues down the other side of the mountain. The map shows a rather odd shaped inholding over there that is probably a mine claimed by patent. We turn for the peak instead. Although there is no trail, it is an easy climb compared to the steep road up to the top.
|Eagle Rest Peak from the saddle.|
|At the top of Antimony Peak and retrieving the peak register.|
|Tecuya Ridge where we hiked in from.|
|A little of the view, which does include a few pinon pines.|
We do not spend much time on Antimony Peak. Much of the view is disturbed by pinon pines. What there is is quite nice. We head down to the saddle, then turn down the far side of the saddle away from the road to follow the ridge down. We are back on continuous, thin snow on the sheltered north side of the peak as we get started down. It is a long way down with a big bump in the middle to get to Eagle Rest Peak.
|Making a trail through the couple inches of snow remaining.|
|Coming even with the bump and peak behind it.|
|The dusting of snow on San Emigdio.|
We cross the strange shaped inholding as we climb up the big bump between the two peaks, but there is nothing noticeable about it. A brief rest at the top and we are heading down again. The ground is often frozen as we go, but there is very little snow. It is when it thaws into mud that things get a little worrisome.
|The roots of a fallen pinon pine at the top of the bump.|
|One last downhill with a clear view of Eagle Rest Peak ahead.|
|Liebre Mountain and surrounding peaks in the distance look to have gotten the greatest amount of snow.|
|San Emigdio Canyon on the other side.|
The saddle between the bump and Eagle Rest Peak is particularly thick in places and piles onto our shoes. Ignacia calls it adobe mud, but the lack of straw keeps it from building up too high. It is still plenty to be annoying and make footing slick.
|The last of the easy walking across the wide, grassy saddle between peaks.|
|Time to climb for the last peak.|
We start the climb. It is easy enough at first, but rocks to clamber up come quickly. We cross westward along a grassy hill to find more rocks to clamber up. It is definitely class 2 climbing as we go needing handholds to help ourselves upward.
|Making our way up the side of the peak.|
The summit block is a few feet where the hands feel needed, but it is really a friction walk up a very steep and very rough boulder. I can feel my shoes nearing the point of slipping with each step. As I get to the top, my eyes drop down the back side and suddenly the thoughts of what I could slip back to is taken over by the thought of the drop on the other side. It is steeper and higher. There is still plenty of room to balance at the top. It brings quite a view.
|Looking down the back side as the slope lessens.|
|Past that quick down to the north is a lot of view out to the snowy Sierras.|
|West from the rocks.|
|East from the rocks.|
This peak is the final one in the list for one in the group. People seem to be really trying to get their peak list finished in time for the party in a couple weeks. He has a small bottle of bubbles and some others brought party foods along. We spend some time enjoying it all at the peak, but not too long. The thing about this peak is that it will be a little more work to get back than it was to get out here in the first place. We are parked more than 600 feet higher and have some 1000 foot climbs to get there.
|South and a little bit east overlooking our path in. We must climb to the high notch to get back.|
We start to make our way back up first by making our way carefully down the rocks again. It is a long way down, and up, and down, and up some more, and down again, and up. Mists are forming in the valleys in the already cooling afternoon and then the sun is painting those mists in the evening.
|Mists forming in the valleys and canyons around San Emigdio Mountain.|
|Mists in the flats between here and Liebre Mountain.|
|The mists are filling in the flats to the northeast.|
The bad mud in the first saddle is no longer bad. It has dried out nicely. Climbing up is a different story. Very few places were melted and soggy at the top, but now there are a lot. Some climbs leave few good places for placing a foot. The last climb is not so bad as we get higher and the snow areas have barely melted. We reach the road again before sunset but the sun has already vanished for us. At least we can make the last steep drop with plenty of light to see all the rocks that try to roll as we come down over them. I pull on my warm pants for this last section because I fear cramps caused by cold so bad the muscle gets pulled and cold is coming.
|Heading steeply downward on the old road as the sun sets. It is already gone for us.|
|Gentle painting on the clouds as the sun sets.|
The uphill is easy at first, then turns to climbing switchbacks in the snow after we pass the two old prospects in the saddle. The snow did not melt much here either. Footing on it is pretty solid all the way back to the parking. We all make it back without any injuries and with a lot of great being. It has been quite a successful trip.
©2016 Valerie Norton
Posted 1 December 2016