Mount Hale, Picket Guard Peak, Mount Young
By: Ron Hudson
I and RJ Secor needed these peaks as "orphans"; I for the first time and RJ for the second. The other participant was Eric Lesser, a strong hiker and runner who has been on a few other SPS trips. Three of us started at 730AM from Whitney Portal. Packs were 21-27 pounds, and all of us had light footwear. We made it to Wallace Creek on the John Muir Trail at 630PM. We spent a while talking to a Muir Trail traveler who is an orange grower and whose forbearers, the Mulhollands, are of LA water development notoriety. Weather was great. After enjoying an evening fire we left at six for the descent into the Kern gorge and climb up Picket Guard on the other side. The canyon of the Kern-Kaweah River is quite nice; stream with fish, fern in the narrow forest at the bottom. We crossed the river at the 9440' level and headed up the peak, class 2. Much of the way up is wooded. When the 3 of us signed the register, we were the only 1995 party Then down down down, and up the Wallace Creek canyon, the last of us arriving at camp at nightfall with another fire for warmth and stories.
Off at 5 for our third long day, we left the Muir trail at the base of Young & Hale at 11,320' about 9AM and proceeded up Hale first. It was sandy with talus interspersed much of the way, class 1-2. RJ took some photos of Russell which is close by. The traverse over to Young has up and down on big talus blocks; RJ and myself endured it while Eric rested below. Back down the talus (slow) and the sand (fast) we got to our packs at 2PM. Still, we had about 2200' of gain to do. Going over Trail Crest twice to get these peaks is equivalent to two extra 13,000ers. Things were a bit slow at the tail end but we did just make it to the car at dark (8PM). Then a late, but not all- night drive home. The total was 18,000 feet of gain and 55 miles. A great trip for exercise and seeing a lot of country!
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