Adams Peak, Mount Elwell, English Mountain, Mount Lola, Sierra Buttes
By: Rick Jali
After enormous difficulties, mainly in getting used to the very long lead times for Schedule and Echo announcements we finally did the first SPS Leisure Trip, to the northernmost Five peaks on the SPS List. At one time, there were six SPS'ers signed up, but finally there were only Rick (this writer), Campy and Ski (Campy's wife).
On Wednesday, 14 Oct, we drove to Hallelujah Junction, 22 miles north of Reno, and then west through Chilcoot, and north again to a USFS campground. This night, like all the others, was a car camp (this is a Leisure Trip, remember?). The next morning, we drove to Frenchman Lake and then followed Forest Service roads towards Adams Peak (8197'). We had both USGS topos and the USFS Plumas NF map, but not all of the roads are shown, so we had to guess. Good thing both of our cars were 4WD! We got to a point about 1 mile north of the peak; later we found we could have driven even closer.
From there it was about an hour's walk to the summit. There was a register. It was a nice day, with good views. After an early lunch, we descended, drove out through Chilcoot and Portola (enjoyed the Railroad Museum), and after dinner in Blairsden, continued south to the Lakes Basin for our second camp.
The next morning (Friday) we set out from the campground along good trails to Mt. Elwell (7812'). The Lakes Basin is well named the 3 mile trail passed numerous beautiful lakes set in forested basins. The peak was soon reached; no register was found, but again we enjoyed an early lunch on a lovely day with great views.
That afternoon, we drove south to scout the approach to Sierra Buttes. At Packer Lake, we saw road signs pointing towards the peak. We followed them, through Increasing difficulties. Soon it was 4WD time again and by the time we had reached the end of the road, we were only 1/4 mile from the summit lookout! If the rest of the road had not been closed, we could have driven to the bottom of the 100+-step ladder leading to the lookout. Again, no register (the lookout was closed), but great views. Later, we drove on to Sierra City, where we had a delicious dinner at an old inn called Busch & Hutchinson (sp?), and then drove on to our third camp at Jackson Meadows Reservoir.
On Saturday morning, we set out for English Mtn (8373'). The USFS Tahoe NF map showed a road to English Mountain Ranch at Jackson Lake, but this is private and closed, so we started from another road about a half-mile north. We went cross-country to the west of the rock buttresses on the north and then up gentle forested slopes to the summit rocks. The high point is near the south end of the rocky summit ridge. The peak could be equally easily approached from Forest Service roads on both the east and the west. There was a register; and again good weather and views.
This time it would have been simpler to have stayed in the area and cooked dinner in, but this was a Leisure Trip, so we drove out to Sierraville for dinner.
We returned in time to find the Mt. Lola trailhead, near where we had camped the night before. What we did not find was a road going south between the designated trailhead and the last cattle-guard to the east. This road is not marked but it parallels the trail for about two miles; finding it would have greatly reduced our hiking on Sunday.
Sunday morning was overcast, windy and cold. But we set out for Mt. Lola along the trail. After going through forest with bright fall colors, a meadow with a beaver dam and up a long slope, we arrived at the summit. No register, but lots of "ruins"; rock walls built as shelters. We stayed behind one, but not for long. We quickly returned to our cars and set out on the drive back home, satisfied that we had reached all of our objectives.
In many ways this was the SPS at its best. We had used the List to guide us through new country, and had not only enjoyed some good hiking and climbing but also seen some very beautiful places which none of us had seen before. And we had plenty of time for other sights and pleasant dining as well. It was a very successful first Leisure Trip.
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