06 November 2016

Sewart Mountain, Snowy Peak, and Black Mountain

Los Padres National Forest

Another 6 AM morning and the group of Hundred Peaks Section peak baggers are assembled again at Buck Creek Trailhead. Since we are still subject to the stupid idea of changing our clocks twice a year, it is quite a bit brighter this today than yesterday.

Buck Creek Trailhead
The sign at the trailhead.

It gets even brighter as we deal with a little car trouble on a car that is driving out this morning. Once they can be sent off safely, we roll out down the hill to start climbing Sewart Mountain once again. The hardest part of the climb is still getting over and around all the logs on the trail.

tree on the trail
Another run through the obstacle course.

Warm Springs Mountain
Looking toward Warm Springs Mountain. Sure is pretty with the morning mist still in place.

south from Sewart Mountain
The view south from Sewart Mountain includes Mugu Peak looking a bit like the west side of an island across the Oxnard plain and a little Catalina Island behind the Santa Monica Mountains.

Third time is the charm for getting photos around Sewart Mountain that are not blurred by low light and no tripod. We do not spend long before continuing along the trail. This time at the obvious junction we take a left onto what might have been Big Cedar Creek Trail. It is another long drop down to the saddle below.

Snowy and Black
The new peaks for today are Snowy Peak and Black Mountain.

At the bottom, the trail we are following turns and follows the creek bed. There is no indication of Divide Forest Camp or a spring that should be around here, but we are a little downstream of where we would be if we had actually followed the historic trail. Another trail should turn off the other direction to get into Buck Creek and then join Buck Creek Trail. We head out over a couple small bumps and there is an old fire ring and a thin trail at the next saddle. The mountain side on the other end of the bumps is scruffy and trail free except for the path made by former groups like this one. We make a steady climb to the top.

Sewart Mountain
Looking back to Sewart Mountain and what will be the final climb of the day.

Alamo and Frazier
Alamo, Pinos, and Frazier Mountains.

The top of Snowy Peak is a little on the bushy side. There should be a benchmark somewhere, but it is not obvious. The wide, smooth peak was probably bulldozed and the benchmark destroyed shortly after it was placed. There are some fuel cans.

Snowy Peak
The top of Snowy Peak is a little bland.

Black Mountain
Black Mountain from Snowy Peak. It is a little brushy, but used to be a lot brushy before the Day Fire.

We head down the other side toward black. It seems not to be the traditional route for the group, but the vegetation is easy to work through. There are a couple poodledog plants along the way to keep us on our toes. As we duck through a line of scrub oaks, we are back on the usual trail which is a bit more rocky and maybe a little more steep.

Hungry Valley
Hungry Valley below us as we make our way down the side of Snowy Peak.

trees along the rocky ridge
A long hot day without trees was advertised, but this is a nice line of trees.

making a way downward
Going down Snowy Peak.

Once down to the saddle once again, it is time to climb all the little bumps we looked across at yesterday. The start is again with a stutter as the first few in the group decide they are not on the somewhat established trail and try again. The lumps tend to be small after the first one, and since we know about them, they are not so frustrating as expected. Near the top, we run into what looks like the base of a rain gauge. What is left of it is locked down tight.

Black Mountain
The last of the lumps ahead as the peak comes into view.

Pyramid Lake
Pyramid Lake below.

We stop a little longer at the top of Black Mountain. It is also a bit brushy for maximum enjoyment. It is still quite nice to be out on it.

White Mountain
White Mountain as it drops down toward Dome Mountain.

Sewart Mountain
Looking to the last peak of the day to climb: the fourth time up Sewart Mountain.

Unless we bushwhack around the side of Snowy Peak, we have to go right back over it again. The work of the hike is really not quite half done even though we have all our peaks now. We get moving down and up again. We were warned it would be warm to hike this, and the climb up Snowy Peak tries to make that true. A rest under one of those trees on the ridge, cooled by the shade and the moisture from the rain last weekend sets us to feeling comfortable again. The weather really is perfect for these peaks this weekend. It is cooling already by the time we are climbing Sewart Mountain again.

up Seward Mountain one last time
Following the trail up Seward Mountain one last time.

burned trees
Back among the corpse of the forest on Seward Mountain.

Seward Mountain
All still in one piece as we finish the fifth peak climb of the day on only three peaks.

camp at the trailhead
One more pass through the obstacle course to get back to the trailhead.

©2016 Valerie Norton
Posted 12 November 2016

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