Castle Peak, Mount Lola, Round Top
By: Pete Yamagata
Kathy Price and Jim Adler flew up Friday night to Sac Metro in the hopes of securing Kathy's Senior Emblem and doing some more Northern Sierra peaks. For Saturday, I enlisted Rich Gnagy to take all of us to the end of the dirt road up Castle Valley in his 4WD. We hiked, then scrambled to the top of the class 3 climber's summit, which is the south-easternmost of the three crags that comprise the peak. We saw that Patty Kline had carried up an ammo box register just weeks previous. We quickly returned to the Jeep, and drove around to the Jackson Meadow Road off Highway 89 north and then to White Rock Lake, which is -southwest of Lola. This is definitely a 4WD road! We found and took the trail to the summit of Lola, and enjoyed the nice feeling and a beautiful sunset while hiking back down to the Jeep. We celebrated in Truckee at O.B.'s Board with a great prime rib and shrimp dinner.
The next day, Kathy, Jim, and I motored up to Carson Pass and took the PCT and then to the north side of the peak. I noticed a little cloud build-up, but chose to ignore it aside from a brief mention, as Kathy and Jim had come such a long way for these peaks. Remarkably, on the ascent, I talked to a colorfully equipped local mountain shop employee who had turned around, seemingly stating some difficulty(?). We then passed a group having lunch on the summit ridge, and then completed the ascent of the easy class 3 summit block. We signed in, then heard a loud rumble above. "Let's go!" I shouted, and we left the summit. While proceeding along the summit ridge, the crackling and buzzing began. "Run, run," I yelled, with all of us being at the worst possible place during a lightning storm. Kathy could only manage a slow walk, recovering from the flu as well as a knee-grinding peak season. Jim stayed back with her, while I figured better just them than all three of us!
Fortunately, nothing else happened but this good scare. Lower down, we talked with the other group, who, it turned out, was a State Park Ranger-led group out of Grover Hot Springs State Park. I queried them as to the liability risk of leading a group and exposing them to the lightning hazard (they didn't do the final class 3 summit scramble), but they didn't think much of it! We enjoyed the fall colors while driving through Hope Valley, and finished the daylight hours dining at the Forest Buffet ("voted the best") at the top of Harrah's in Stateline. I dropped off Kathy and Jim with an hour to spare for their flight home.
I was abuzz for days about "nearly being electrocuted!" Kathy sent me a SPS banquet ticket in appreciation, but my plans didn't work out. I continued to do some hikes and peaks in the Sierra up until the end of November, after which the snows came. I celebrated the end of my "peaks recession" with steadily falling numbers since 1992 till this season!
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